People spend much of their time exposed to out of home (OOH) advertising, stuck in traffic, going nowhere slowly. Or waiting in queues at the bank. Or even visiting the refreshment rooms at airports and shopping centres. There’s not much to engage your mind, but there is advertising. Yet OOH ad spend only accounted for 4.6% of South African media spend in 2012.
That’s a number Out of Home Media SA (OHMSA) CEO, Sarel du Plessis, and chairman, Sydney Mangena, want to change and much of the focus of out of home’s umbrella marketing organisation in 2013 will be in growing the reach of the sector. One way is to market the industry vigorously, and another – of vital importance – is to ensure the sector has proper measurements in place.
The Media Online caught up with Du Plessis and Mangena to find out more about the challenges the industry is facing, and how OHMSA intends confronting them.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing OHMSA right now?
A. The three primary challenges are embedded in our approved and stated goals for the next 24 months. 1. Grow market share from the present 4.6% to 6.0%. That means that the OHMSA executive, with the help of members and non-members, will have to be out there talking to marketers, media agencies and creative agencies to present to them compelling reasons why they should channel more budget to the OOH sector. Some of these reasons include fantastic opportunities to go digital on almost all of the OOH categories, the availability of innovative new categories and activations in OOH, as well as cost-effective campaigns across all the platforms. 2. Grow membership numbers. If OHMSA is to be taken seriously as a media sector we need to comprehensively represent the members on all levels and industry bodies. 3. The sector requires an independent audience study (OHMS) to assist OOH media owners to effectively sell their inventory to marketers and agencies.
Q.Has membership grown? And any progress bringing back members who left into the fold?
A. Membership is static with 2 smaller members who joined recently and 2 others who resigned. Membership drives will be a priority for the next 12 months with an aim of securing membership that MUST represent at least 75% of the OOH spend. We simply cannot claim to represent the OOH sector effectively unless we achieve this figure. Of course that means that we MUST have the two big members that left the OHMSA family. We have had discussions with both Continental Outdoor and Provantage to establish their needs and to find ways to address these. I believe that we need to build an OHMSA that these two important media owners WANT to be part of. We are not there yet.
Q.There are a couple of legal challenges facing the OOH industry, in Cape Town and Johannesburg. How involved are you in these challenges and what is your position on the by-laws impacting on your members?
A. OHMSA is primarily a marketing organisation as outlined in the first question. However, we will act fiercely in support of the sector and its members when illogical by-laws prevent OOH members from their right to freedom of commercial speech.
Q. What kind of impact are digital developments having on OOH. I’m thinking of Provantage’s launch of Transit TV for example. Will companies unable to afford the outlay for the technology fall by the wayside, do you think?
A. Digital opportunities and platforms are some of the most exciting developments in the OOH sector. It is not limited to TV applications and smaller LED signs. During the past week we have seen the unveiling of a major digital billboard in Johannesburg with more to come soon. Digital applications are possible in almost all of the OOH categories as it allows for quick tactical campaigns and variation. Gone are the days that a static 96-sheeter goes up and stays up for three months at a time. Digital also means rich content and for the first time the sector challenges other sectors such as print and broadcast in offering a mix of content and commercials. There will always be a place and space for media owners who chose to or cannot afford to change over to digital. But change is a constant and if marketers prefer digital applications then members will simply have to adapt…or die.
Q. With so many OOH companies operating in Africa, has OHMSA started liaising and partnering with any other umbrella organisations on the continent?
A. OHMSA has a very strong bond and working relationship with a number of associations in the USA, Europe, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand. We are also a member of FEPE. But we are not yet active on the African continent. It is something we need to address.
Q. Mike Leahy’s latest MIW for OOH: Rates +2.5%. Performance change none. MIW Index (CPM) +2.5%
A. Out of Home contractors are actually hiking rates but at levels lower than most other media, and somewhat beneath the CPI. Much depends on the format, advertiser demand, and location…and of course, rate card rates remain highly negotiable. Your comment on the above? Mike is spot-on regarding the available statistics. However, the sector is notorious for not adhering to the norm of rigid rate cards and reporting on turnovers. The landscape is changing and the market is flat. That calls for innovative negotiation of inventory and rates, and OOH members are doing just that. Some of the other sectors are seeing a decline in their product line-up and sales, especially print, and OOH sees this as an opportunity.
Q. What are you doing to attract more members, and what are you offering? Why should they join?
A. Associations are clubs. You join a club because you receive a set of benefits and you also enjoy the company of likeminded individuals. Often the latter are more pronounced than the actual benefits. We are in the process of building compelling and tangible benefits. But we need members to provide us with the resources required to fulfil on the 3 primary goals outlined in question 1. If we grow markets share for the sector, EVERYONE will benefit. Amen.
Image: ADreach’s ‘Wreck it Ralph’ street pole campaign for Disney