Provantage Media Group has big plans for 2016. And it has started with three acquisitions, which are currently in progress. Michael Bratt had an exclusive interview with managing director Jacques du Preez, to find out how the group has fared in 2015, and what can be expected from them next year.
While Du Preez would not disclose details of the three acquisitions currently being formalised, he did say they are part of the group’s strategy for 2016 to “diversify and take market share from competitors”.
This year saw a slow start for the company and for the out of home (OOH) industry on the whole, but Du Preez says it was a positive year for Provantage, with all of its divisions performing well. He credits this with being a result of OOH competing better with other media types due to fragmentation, which has seen it harder to connect with consumers. He explains that the ever-increasing on-demand trend, where consumers pick and choose what they want to consume, when they want to consume it, is most beneficial to OOH. He believes it will become a medium of more value as consumers “can’t turn off or change adverts”.
One of the main trends of 2015 was the rollout of a lot of digital offerings, driven mostly by the big billboard companies. “Digital integration is a core part of Provantage’s along with three other key pillars: activations, static, and large format. All are important and all must be done right,” says Du Preez.
The best performing division of 2015
When asked which division of Provantage showed the best performance in the past year, Du Preez chose the airport advertising business. It recently won a Feather Award for the Best Advertising Service Provider for OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport, and it also recently secured the contract for Lanseria Airport. He describes the division as “a very professional unit which is world class in its offerings and clients”.
The two areas of OOH that Du Preez believes should be kept an eye on as they still haven’t been fully done properly are the in-store space, closer to the point of purchase, and small niche spaces where consumers are sitting, which haven’t been looked at.
Challenges galore for OOH, and media in general
The three main challenges that OOH is currently facing, du Preez believes are, dealings with government, the down skilling and resource stretch of media agencies, and the tough economic times. Regarding the first one, he says that it has become easier to deal with some parastatals, but when dealing with municipalities it is still a challenge. “The best offerings globally are OOH companies partnering with authorities to offer value to customers. We haven’t seen collaboration between OOH and government in South Africa,” he explains. Du Preez says the the tender process is “problematic” and “the consistency and enforcement of bylaws also needs attention”.
The problem with media agencies and OOH
When explaining about media agencies, du Preez says that over time Provantage is seeing less and less qualified staff handling OOH portfolios. He says staff don’t have the time or the resources to properly explore different OOH options and their benefits and thus they tend to default to billboards when clients ask for an OOH component to bolster their advertising needs.
The group has begun to meet more and more with clients face-to-face and Du Preez says the company has seen a much better response when dealing with clients directly. “Most certainly we are going to have more one on one discussions with clients. I call it educating the client. We are going to have to carry a lot of the educational responsibility for our audiences, the environment, our stakeholders we represent and our brands,” he adds. “Collectively we need to go and educate brands and consumers about opportunities.”
Measurement tools and research
Du Preez also commented on the new OOH measurement tool unveiled recently by CUENDE Infometrics, in partnership with Telmar. He says international OOH research and modelling has been very successful especially since OOH data sets are the most complicated of any media type, based on numerous factors. This research is a good place to start for the industry but, he cautions, “It won’t be perfect at the start. We need to develop it.”
While OOH, and media in general has faced, and will continue to face, harsh challenges, it seems Provantage has steered its ship the right way. The group has changed the way it operates with stakeholders and how it deploys media, and has spent a lot of time with the likes of Millward Brown and brands to understand the needs and the world OOH is operating in. If the three ongoing acquisitions are any indication, Provantage has big plans for the coming year.
Follow Michael Bratt on Twitter @MichaelBratt8
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