Out of home advertising (roadside billboard) strategy and planning, until about four years ago, was a shot in the dark.
The Out of Home Measurement Council, (OMC), has come a long way in developing their innovative methodology to illuminate key media metrics for roadside billboards (which account for around 80% of out of home spend) and consumer travel patterns.
The innovative methodology includes the combination of traffic flows, satellite images, and travel patterns to create a comprehensive traffic model, which when combined with the location of all media owner billboard panels, creates an accurate representation of OOH audiences.
These elements are modelled to create OOH ratings demonstrating reach, frequency, GRP’s, impacts, CPM and so on for roadside billboard campaigns or single billboards.
Elements such as direction of traffic flow and visibility are taken into account as part of the model.
The OMC has just launched their fourth release of their ROAD data which includes the rolling three-year data from 2017 to 2019. This update highlights the altered travelling patterns and emergent commercial hubs since the outset of the research.
Not reflected yet, however, is the impact of the lockdown and what that has done to alter travelling patterns, peak hour changes influenced by new shopping habits and work-from-home trends.
Interestingly, latest mobility data shows that peak hour peaks have flattened, and travel patterns have flattened to accommodate new travel and living patterns throughout the day.
The value of this OOH currency is undisputed and follows the global gold standard. It provides accountability, allows for empirical planning to ascertain the best coverage, improves rates, provides a better valuation of sites in the development phase, allows for cross media integration, and finally optimises campaigns to the marketers advantage.
As much as the data allows for accurate planning, it is still necessary to check the environment around each site for visibility, and scrutiny of each site’s latest pic needs to be undertaken to check for tree growth or new development around the site that may impede visibility.
There are still challenges for this currency, however. The data represents approximately 78% of roadside billboards which, commendable as this is, excludes the smaller media owners who cannot afford to pay the membership fees, or believe that they do not need to be measured based on good occupancy rates. (Perhaps this attitude will change with the dearth of sales in our current economic crisis driven by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic).
In addition, there are a high percentage of media owners, particularly in Cape Town, that are not members of the OMC. Cape Town has fewer sites, but they’re in great demand. Many of the unmeasured sites are possibly the best performing sites (based on location and size) in Cape Town.
From a planning perspective this leaves holes in the evaluation of a campaign, as well as the possibility that their sites are excluded as they are not measured. This negates the value of choosing sites that best suit a campaign’s objectives rather than only selecting sites that are measured.
A conundrum indeed! The research provides strategic and planning guidance based on fact, however in order to represent the best sites to suit campaign objectives, planners are still juggling with a mix of metrics and gut-feel.
Lyn Jones has been in the marketing, advertising and media industry for over 30 years, and is an Advertising Media Association of SA Board member. Her strengths are strategy, planning and implementation of all aspects of the marketing and media function. She has been in the out of home industry for 15 years, and was a contributing force behind the launch of the Out of Home Measurement Council.
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