OMC OFFICIAL RESPONSE: The Media Online article OOH, that hurts! By Mr Alasdair Muller (14 April 2020)
Nobody around the world ever thought that we would find ourselves in this position in 2020. Neither did we ever think that here in South Africa we would go into lock down. How on earth could any of us have anticipated this and quickly find a way of continuing doing rigorous OOH travel research?
The answer is quite simple – nobody could and not one media owner around the world is able to continue doing OOH research at this time.
Tracking people’s movements via GPS technology is being done, but this is not a media currency that allows for detailed demographic information to be collected. The likes of Waze, Google Maps etc are indicating that people are travelling less and are remaining within their immediate home radius. Sure there are the essential workers who are allowed to travel and are travelling, but for the vast majority of people in South Africa, travel habits have changed dramatically.
The OMC does not believe that Covid-19 has put a spotlight on our ability, or inability, to provide real time or actionable insights for advertisers at all. We all understand that our population has been asked to stay at home and we all understand that there will be an impact on the numbers, just as there has been a positive impact on TV viewership and Radio listenership at this time, swings and roundabouts.
OMC takes umbrage over ROAD research claims
The OMC takes umbrage to the comment that our ROAD research “falls spectacularly short in its ability to deliver real-time statistics”. The industry is fully aware that the OMC was unable to use GPS technology initially to do our ROAD research as there was a patent in place that restricted the use of this.
The patent has subsequently lapsed and we may well look at using GPS technology to gain additional insights into travel movements in the future, but there is a much higher cost to conduct this kind of research and we would look to supplement our existing methodology rather than start afresh.
We would like to remind everybody too, that our face to face interviewing method that Ask Afrika conducts on our behalf has been highly recommended to other countries around the world who are looking at doing OOH research. We gain extremely rich information from our research, which at a time when the Establishment Survey is unable to give strategists insights into daily routines, ROAD can supply this information.
Please be aware though, that there is currently no face-to-face research being conducted around the world due to social distancing and lockdowns. We are also aware that our international colleagues have also stopped conducting their OOH research, no matter what methodology they are using as we all understand that there is going to be a huge drop in our figures
The OMC stopped our interviewing on 16 March with a view of keeping the interviewers and the those selected in our geo-targeted areas safe from catching and spreading Covid-19. We will reimplement our field work when it is safe and our interviewers are able to go out again.
Let’s be honest though, one has to agree, our research does give us media metrics in order to compare OOH media with all other media types which is extremely valuable!
The OMC has worked so hard to be able to give the industry this kind of measurement to allow OOH to get its fair share of the share of media budget. Every year we interview 15 000 individuals based on a random probability sample. We then fuse three years of data together to give us a rolling average sample of 45 000 people. This is the largest sample in the industry Our ROAD survey coupled with the traffic flow satellite imagery that Cuende Infometrics supplies, makes the ROAD research one of the most sophisticated pieces of research available in South Africa.
Realistically measuring DOOH
The question regarding digital OOH (DOOH) and needing insights to adjust and improve campaigns? Well we are so glad you asked this question. We are able to realistically measure DOOH panels. No more dividing the overall reach by the number of ads rotating in the loop. We take traffic speeds and dwell times into consideration and get a realistic reach and frequency across time bands, days of weeks and weekends.
We all acknowledge that there is a huge shift in travel behaviour but when will this return you ask? Well – how long is a piece of string? We wish we had a crystal ball at this time. We wish we could know the answers and tell everybody that at the end of April things will return to normal, but we can’t.
We don’t believe President Cyril Ramaphosa is in a position to give us an answer at this time either. The OOH industry will probably be one of the most affected media sectors in South Africa. That being said, every single media owner, media agency and marketer will have to watch and monitor day-by-day.
The OMC believes we have done our very best in giving the industry meaningful research which is robust, stable and complies with the ESOMAR standards. We are on par with our worldwide colleagues and we collaborate and use a set of agreed standards for our research.
The OMC has gained traction in the industry and this can be seen by our phenomenal growth in memberships from our initial four founding members to our current eighteen (18) members! In total we have over 8 600 panels loaded onto our Quantum software with approximately 7 600 panels for media agencies to access and plan against.
By analysing these available panels against a client’s specific demographic target market, it is easy to cherry pick those panels which are best suited to reach the target market, achieving the correct levels of frequency and generating specific results. Our 18 member’s inventory equates to approximately 75% of all urban and peri-urban panels in South Africa.
Enhancing research tools and data
We will emerge from this and the OOH audiences and traffic figures will return to normality and, we will, as we have done, continue to enhance our research tools and data.
OOH! Mr Muller, you contacted us about becoming members last week. We are still awaiting your email to confirm the number of panels you would be interested in loading onto our amazing software, Quantum, so that the industry can have access to your inventory.
We are sure you are keen to know how many people travel past your new DOOH site on the N1 between Rivonia and Buccleuch interchange? Please do drop us that email you promised to send Our ROAD research can’t be bad can it?
Trish Guilford is the general manager of the Out of Home Measurement Council and has written this response on behalf of the OMC’s members.
The OMC (Out of Home Measurement Council) is a non-profit Joint Industry Committee that has been incorporated to provide buyers of out of home media with a currency and survey that allows for efficient and accurate OOH planning. It produces consolidated, inclusive and representative research covering the key OOH formats, commencing with static roadside panels in South Africa, including the panels from all out of home participating media owners. The JIC aims to market and grow the OOH advertising industry within South Africa.
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