From in-vehicle screens and digital boards at transit hubs to mobile targeting of people as they commute, digital transit advertising is a booming sector in South Africa.
Described as “under-utilised as a segment” by JCDecaux Africa’s (former) marketing director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Donald Liphoko, digital transit advertising is becoming more and more recognised by brands and marketers in South Africa as a valuable investment.
From cars, buses and taxis to trains and planes, this advertising medium targets economically active people, in captive environments, with a “one-to-many” reach.
As Touch Media managing director Margie Carr comments, “In South Africa, we have the benefit of digital transit exposure to audiences across the board. Due to the travel patterns in the country, there is a heavy focus on ‘out of home’ at commuter nodes or inside public transport. Nowadays, this includes anything from the high-end Gautrain in Gauteng and airports across the country, screens in Ubers and mass commuter nodes like taxi ranks, train stations and bus depots.”
No matter the transit type, players are in the same situation, according to Liphoko. “All of us are experiencing a growth in numbers, are experiencing increased duration of people on various platforms, and are being forced to innovate in terms of content, technology and go-to-market strategies regarding packaging and pricing.”
Choosing the right transit type
But with so many transit types and spaces to choose from, how should the choice be made of the most relevant one, which will provide maximum return on investment? Carr identifies these five factors that will make for an effective campaign:
Identify the correct audience
Your message must stand out/be unique/create interest/call for action
Your design will make or break the campaign – it has to be eye catching and quick to comprehend
Select a DOOH option that has proven its worth – and one that creates audience interest, and limit your advertising slots
Consider time of day to ensure you reach your audience at the time most relevant to your product/service.
Craig Wallis, business unit manager at The MediaShop, adds, “Marketers should deal with reputable media owners who have researched the audience, and can offer a professional media offering. But all DOOH transit platforms are effective advertising mediums for marketers.”
Established networks, but not many new opportunities
Despite the growth in popularity of digital transit advertising in the country, Wallis, who is an advocate of the effectiveness of this medium, says there aren’t many new opportunities.
“Transit DOOH offerings have remained static over the last few years. Large networks have been established and have not been added to, in any significant way…most of the prime commuter nodes have been assigned to media owners on a long term basis, so there is little flexibility/opportunity for innovation,” he explains.
Trends they see developing in the next few years include focused apps and in-vehicle mediums encouraging ‘deets for treats’ data collection, journey expectation management, and community store-/spaza-specialised advertising, all the way to the holy grail of in-trip purchasing, and being able to collect goods at the rank the journey begins or ends at.
In terms of transit hub advertising, the duo stress that having a digital platform at a taxi rank doesn’t mean you are going to be effective. “It has to be in the right space, attracting the attention of commuters, either queuing while waiting for their ride or in central interaction points like food stalls before their trip begins,” they explain. “The spaces that transit media providers work with are very restrictive due to municipal laws and bye-laws as well as the agenda of the dominant political party of the city or the province’s objectives. Something we are working on is rejuvenation of ranks and finding the best for space and purpose for digital offerings in these projects.”
Africa’s first large format digital screen
JCDecaux, which has exclusive rights to advertising opportunities in the Gautrain network, is installing Africa’s first large format digital screen in this space. This is on top of their 244 digital screens across 10 Gautrain stations, and highlights their belief, which has been reinforced by studies, that digital outperforms static, mainly because of attention-grabbing movement.
“A UK study by Neuro-Insight concluded that while both static and full motion content delivered high levels of positive emotional response, full motion content delivered even higher emotional and memory intensity peaks when it was combined with interactive technology. The net impact of these measures in combination equated to an eight times stronger impact for full motion DOOH with technology, compared to static content,” says Liphoko.
Mobile integration to boost OOH’s reach
Digital transit advertising extends beyond the physical infrastructure in vehicles and at transit hubs. Mobile is increasingly being incorporated into OOH campaigns to not only broaden the reach, but to also get closer to the consumers through targeting with relevant content.
“We serve ads based on a number of things, but primarily location. We plug into a network, get a user’s location when they log onto a publisher and then serve an ad… for example, we could geofence Gautrain stations and then re-target people who have been in those stations with specific advertising for the Gautrain,” explains Neil Clarence, chief operating officer at Vicinity Media. This approach adds the benefit of measurability of audience, with stronger analytics, and without the need for physical infrastructure on the ground.
There have been instances where traditional OOH players have paired their offerings with Vicinity Media’s services, which Clarence refers to as “out of home amplification”, citing studies that show that OOH works better when working in conjunction with mobile.
He identifies a desirable advertising scenario as: “A brand should speak to a particular consumer throughout their day at various touchpoints. So a consumer has been to the taxi rank to travel, so the brand takes an advert on a board there, and then the brand can use mobile to re-target them when they are at home at night.”
Interactivity, programmatic, and video driving digital
One of the more innovative digital transit advertising options is Hubble, which offers in-Uber media opportunities. With a current inventory of 700 screens in rideshare vehicles (with a goal of 2 000), the company’s creative director Brett Atherstone reveals that Hubble will be exploring what is called “programmatic” in the rideshare space once they are able to scale their platform.
Programmatic is a major trend not only in digital transit advertising, but digital in general. It provides ease of planning and buying media, as well as ease of delivering creative and having the tools to access the data.
“We will shortly be offering a Cost per View model, with user-initiated video only. If the platform is interactive, it opens up a lot of scope for creativity,” he adds.
In terms of the major developments in transit media that are creating innovative advertising opportunities, Atherstone identifies more interactivity, less static and more video, more data-fed media, gamification and augmented reality as key, though the latter is still in its infancy in South Africa.
He also points to a bugbear that he has, explaining, “Clients only focus on conversion. Many clients shift their entire budget to only converting customers. What they don’t realise is that if they are not advertising in all stages, awareness/consideration/conversion, then they are likely to put off many customers who might have come around eventually.”
That’s why, he says, “Media agencies must push back to clients and educate them on the dangers of having a conversion only mindset. People need a bridge of trust and familiarity with a brand before they consider purchasing. Digital is an easy sell for conversion, therefore, a challenge for DOOH.”
Michael Bratt was until recently a journalist with The Media and The Media Online. He recently took a job with Huawei SA. He has a Bachelor of Journalism degree with a Master’s from Rhodes.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.