Bringing on board senior data scientist, Shavani Vandeyar, and top media strategist, Deborah Schepers, perfectly highlights the direction Primedia Group CEO, Omar Essack, is taking.
“We want to truly understand how we can segment audiences, around their behaviour, including consumption, hobbies, interests, very much like platform businesses like Facebook. Every media buyer is looking for greater targetability, along with reach. Getting data analytics right will result in new products, enhanced growth and sustainability for our media channels,” he explains.
The reach of radio in South Africa still trumps any other metric when it comes to buying, whereas overseas ROI and targetability are the priorities. “Targetability is becoming more and more important in the local market. There was a time when the reach proposition was enough, and for the moment it still is. But if you don’t get granular, you will soon be irrelevant,” says Essack.
Essack also revealed how Primedia Group has morphed its radio research methodologies.
Digital transition driving OOH growth
On the out of home side of the business, Primedia Outdoor, Essack says the transition from static to digital is driving accelerated growth rates around the world.
“In Europe, between 2010 and 2017, ad share dropped in newspapers and magazines significantly, radio was stable at 6% market share, and the medium that grew, apart from the internet and mobile, was out of home. Its share, over that period, grew from 7% to 8%,” he says. The same pattern is also being seen in the US market, and the move to digital OOH is the primary driving force behind the increases.
Digital OOH advertising is powerful, as customisable adverts can deliver more targeted, relevant messages to consumers.
Consolidating OOH offerings
Primedia Outdoor went through a transition period, aimed at creating greater efficiency, which saw the integration of the mall business, Primall Media, into the out of home operation.
“This made sense as both these businesses are OOH businesses that are increasingly moving from static media into digital screens,” Essack explains. “The technologies are going to be similar, the buying engines are going to be similar, and the marketing & sales is reasonably similar. In addition, we have very strong leadership in our Outdoor business so managing malls and roadside out of home in one business was perfectly logical.”
Growth beyond South Africa
The group is currently exploring a number of growth options outside of the SADC region, particularly in the OOH space. “Radio comes with a lot of barriers from a regulatory and ownership point of view, barriers that don’t exist with OOH,” he says.
Opportunities that enhance the group’s data strategy are also key targets for partnerships and Primedia’s differentiating proposition is always top of mind when venturing into other territories.
Brushing up on other media channels
Since being appointed to his current position, Essack has been interested in learning about other media channels, having come from a radio background.
“I was aware of them, but didn’t understand them deeply, for example our out of home channels across Primedia. The biggest surprise for me was how relevant OOH media continues to be and how exciting some of the projections are for growth of the medium as it transitions from static to digital,” he comments.
Asked about a hypothetical listing on the JSE and how the group would sell to investors, Essack responds, “You’re buying a pure-play media advertising business, with very high cash generation, very high dividend yields, and a much improved EBITDA margin. When bringing in the growth prospects, it becomes even more attractive.”
This is part one of our interview with Primedia Group CEO Omar Essack. Keep your eyes on the site in mid-January for part two, in which he will give his views on the broader media industry, and talking consolidation, challenges and trends.