Billboards are prime real estate in South Africa’s townships. Competition is fierce, and the battle against clutter continuous. Daniel Thebe gives the lowdown.
This post was written shortly I had been approached by a landlord to take over a site in Cape Town, Khayelitsha. She had complained about the previous billboard owner not paying her. As she was promised a R500pm but got a mere R250pm that was paid only once for a 6×4 site located at a Khayelitsha train station. This was exploitation, to say the least.
Before you call me anti-capitalist, isn’t one of the rules of doing good business to keep a mutually beneficial relationship by being fair to the social environment of which you operate in?
To top it all off, as a media owner, doesn’t this behaviour impact the reputation of the brand with the land lord who is also likely to also be the brand’s target market and because there will be a bad perception regarding the brand are you the media owner not responsible to some point for this damage of brand positioning?
That is why municipalities such as the City of Cape Town have opted to contacting the brands directly and fining them.
Social trends situation
As it stands the market is not regulated. Yes there are bodies representing the OOH sector, but they are not as affective regarding regulation as they should be in the township market.
According to a PWC report and forecast (2013) on OOH sector: Urbanisation and the need to capture the ever growing township population have become drivers in the growth of the industry which is valued at R4.2-billion (2014).
Due to urbanisation, an influx of resources have been invested in the townships. Some communities have created economies that are township based, dubbed ‘Kasi Economies’. Proof of this is seen from Soweto and the jewel of the Cape, Khayelitsha. Malls, shopping centres, hospitals, transport terminals and the like have increased have in response to this growing demand and surplus cash.
The rise of the commuter is clear in townships too, meaning advertisers have now a single point of reference where they can engage with their market. My only problem(s) with this opportunity is that the messaging on billboards gets lost, because in a dense area such as a taxi rank, having brand A next brand B which competes with Brand C, gets too cluttered. This means the end user, the client, isn’t getting their promised retention of eyes and mind, as promised by the media owner and advertising agencies.
Is there an opportunity here for advertisers and media owners?
The short answer is, ‘Yes’. And the longer answer is that the general township populations is still blind to the income OOH can bring to them but the youth have caught on to it and are starting to penetrate the market.
I foresee two things happening:
The local media entrepreneurs will work hand in hand with big business and their advertisers because seemingly there is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Big business and the existing media owning companies won’t want to work the locals thus forcing the new locally based media owners to rally the community to only allow their companies to operate in the township(s), thus forcing big businesses to listen.
Proof of this is already seen in NGO’s and business forums in the townships taking down billboards, getting film companies to ask them for permission instead of municipalities, as municipalities don’t even consult them when movies will be shot in their areas.
Some of these NGO’s and forums have been reported to having the backing of the communities and are able to tell council members that x and y won’t happen, unless they pay the communities.
With all due respect to the insight measuring data companies, but if you will be based in Sandton or in Cape Town CBD and try to calculate measurement/s and pass them off as accurate without using people who live and understand the dynamics in those areas, or you yourself being there, then your job or your entire profession is a complete farce. Even if you use technology you will still need the human chain to protect your instruments or to be part of them.
Benevolent brands and media owners
With the township population increasing tremendously, media owners need to engage with the communities they operate in to come up with improved accurate measurement tools to quantify elements such as: traffic, insight of locals movement and buying habits.
This will also help to eradicate issues of billboard panels being stolen, and in most cases these panels are used for shack insulation or taverns, who is it for the table covers.
Cutting through the clutter
Taxi advertising will increase in popularity as taxis transports close to 60% of the township commuters daily.
Digital billboards should increase in usage as a result of mall-ativity (mall activity) and brands wanting continued dominance in the existing sites they have.
Container advertising, which is when communities use their shipping containers that they currently use for informal trading and give brands the opportunity to advertise on them.
Flash mobs, currently are only used as an experiential marketing devise but I believe that if used in conjunction with an out of home campaign this could create impact.
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