The South African media industry as a whole has been receiving tons of bad press as of late. Numerous publications have closed their doors, mass retrenchments are commonplace and the first thing to get cut by struggling corporates is their advertising budget. But in the mucky quagmire there are those media companies who are still shining; The Media Online calls it Pockets of Excellence.
We began this series of articles in order to tell the positive story. In media the common phrase is, if it bleeds it leads; but we wanted to explore the lighter side, where against all the odds the underdogs are winning the war against tough economic times.
We began the series with a look at cinema, where surprisingly people are still flocking to watch the latest blockbusters on the big screen despite supposed belt-tightening in a tough economy. Ster-Kinekor is making all the right moves with its customers to keep the crowds coming. This week Michael Bratt wanted to examine a form of advertising that you see every day, even if you are not fully conscious of it.
You can’t drive down a highway or main road without seeing a billboard urging you to buy an alcoholic beverage or telling you to change your cellular provider. You can’t leave home without being bombarded with various messages, both subliminal and overt; it’s called the out of home industry.
One of the big players in the space is Primedia Outdoor. In an interview company CEO Dave Roberts said the company has been performing very well in recent years recording, “growth in excess of 30% per annum for the last three years”. Several initiatives were cited as the main reasons for the success including:
- the development of new products
- the integration of the Comutanet business into the group
- the creation of a marketing services team
- good inventory and cost management
Under its new product offerings Primedia Outdoor expanded its Bhamuza billboards beyond the primarily rural locations and into urban environments. It also introduced new urban based LED screens as well as freeway LED screens. Digital signs are one of the main focuses of the company as Roberts says, “As a result of the growth in revenue from our digital signs we will continue to expand our digital screen offering by developing LED screens in locations that provide advertisers the right audience as well as meet the right return metrics”.
Incorporating the Comutanet division into the rest of the group, “facilitated a significant amount of rationalisation and synergy,” Roberts said. He also said “the marketing services team was formed to compensate for the lack of research tools in outdoor advertising”.
But despite these developments Primedia Outdoor says business slowed in the second half of last year and into the beginning of this year. “This is due to an overall slowdown in the economy”. However he went on to say that “it appears advertisers are returning to the market and the order book is filling up very nicely,” Roberts said.
One of the major plans that Primedia Outdoor is focusing on, that it says will move the outdoor industry into a position where it is able to compete better with other media products, is the outdoor currency project. The project kicked off at the beginning of 2014 with the creation of a newly formed out of home joint industry committee called the Out of Home Measurement Council (OMC) in a pilot phase. The OMC was tasked with carrying out an annual audit of the methodology and advertising data for the out of home industry, to ensure a fair and unbiased currency. But Roberts says, “The OMC will take time to bed down and get accepted by the buyers. We are anticipating seeing the effect of this in 2016”.
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