The out of home media sector is poised for significant growth in South Africa, says Sarel du Plessis, Out of Home Media South Africa’s (OHMSA’s) executive director. Research here and abroad shows that people spend more time out of home than ever before. The rise of technology means that we are always connected. These and other factors stand out of home advertising in good stead. But, there are challenges amid the opportunities. The Media Online chats to Du Plessis about them.
What are OHMSA’s plans for 2013?
OHMSA, in 2013, is moving towards a process of “re-engineering” that will see it becoming a fully-fledged marketing organisation serving the out of home advertising sector. To that end we have formalised two measurable primary goals: 1. Grow the out of home market share from 4.59% to 6%. 2. Grow membership to represent 75% of the total out of home spend. Both these are tough goals. But with the help of our members, out of home media owners and out of home media stakeholders, such as suppliers, the goals can be achieved.
What exactly do you mean by your statement that you will be a marketing partner to your members, and how?
We have decided to take this route because without it, we will not see any growth in market share. If we can help our members grow market share, all out of home stakeholders will benefit. OHMSA is thus busy building the necessary marketing tools to enable us to take a positive story to marketers and ad agencies. Some of the other media sectors are today more vulnerable than 10 years ago, and the out of home sector has the opportunity to capitalise on this.
How is OHMSA trying to get Continental Outdoor Media and Provantage back as members?
We need to build an OHMSA that they want to be part of, simple as that! And in return, OHMSA needs the support and expertise that these two large media owners bring to the table. For example, who would take PDMSA (Print and Digital Media South Africa) seriously if the biggest player, Media24, was not a member?
Furthermore, OHMSA is a member of the prestigious international out of home media association, FEPE, of which Barry Sayer (Continental Outdoor Media CEO) is President. This opens up more doors for the sector than ever before, but if relationships are strained, it will hamper all our efforts to grow the market share of which we are capable. We will listen to both Continental and Provantage and do our best to provide the required structures and systems that will see their return to OHMSA.
What is OHMSA going to do about the illegal billboards in Johannesburg?
Probably nothing! It is, and always will be, an issue between the media owner and the City Council to resolve. And until OHMSA represents all of the out of home media companies, we are not in a strong enough position to enforce anything. But, we can call on our present members with billboard rights in Johannesburg to ensure that all by-laws are obeyed and remind them that, as members of OHMSA, they have signed the Code Of Standards and Practice which clearly delineates ethical guidelines.
Why is local government’s statement that “all billboards are illegal in Johannesburg” problematic?
It is alarming when we hear senior local officials making such statements. That infers that all media owners (whether they belong to OHMSA or not) are deviant and non-compliant. This is simply not possible. I refuse to believe that 10 or more media owners simply erected billboards without the proper due process of tendering, applications, etc. The money that goes to local authorities is happily received. Of course, there are illegal billboard in Johannesburg, and Durban and Cape Town. In many of these cases the billboards were not illegal when they were erected five, six, seven years ago.
But by-laws tend to change, officials move on, new people are appointed, and all of a sudden these boards are deemed illegal. Media owners invest large sums of money in building and erecting billboards, and the contracts with local authorities are anything between three and seven years. Why on earth would a media owner jeopardise his income by not adhering to the due process required to ensure that the board is legal?
Are the Cape Town City Council and the out of home sector still at loggerheads over the placement of advertising in that city? Many media owners feel that they are severely restricted by the Council’s law as to where and how advertising can be placed?
It is common knowledge that Cape Town’s proposed Outdoor Advertising and Signage By-Law was not adopted. That does not mean that the out of home sector has achieved any significant victory. There is still a long way to go before the Council and media owners feel a fair agreement is reached.
What are the top three issues facing the out of home sector in South Africa?
We need to rectify the image and perception of the out of home media sector, finish and klaar! 2. The need for a dedicated, independent and believable out of home audience study is paramount. 3. Transformation of the sector to recognise, assist and build sustainable business for black entrepreneurs. The first two issues are non-negotiable for the sector to grow market share. If we can achieve this, all the players in the out of home media sector will benefit.
Does OHMSA communicate with other out of home associations around the world? What have you learnt from them?
We communicate almost on a daily basis. We have established an informal work group called Global Outdoor Media Associations. The executive directors of the world’s outdoor associations (America, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and India) share information on items such as membership categories and fees, marketing materials, data, etc. We also hold a monthly webinar which helps in building relationships.
What market share would you like the out of home sector to achieve?
Ten percent…but I could settle for the tough goal of 6% for the next two years.
What are the most exciting out of home advertising innovations?
We are building a set of sub-brands for the association. These brands are designed to provide improved tangible membership benefits; help with achieving our two primary goals; build new revenue opportunities for OHMSA; build the reputation and influence of the sector. Some of these brands are: OH! News Daily; OH! Classifieds; OH! Digital; OH! Online; OH! Recruitment; OH! Connect Days; OH! Thought Conferences.
What are your personal goals for OHMSA?
To make OHMSA the representative out of home media sector association. There is always strength in unity as demonstrated by the print and broadcast media associations. Oh yes, and change the OHMSA logo…I personally hate it.