The OOH industry is set for substantial growth that will drive the modernisation of mediums and environments in the coming years.
OOH is a well-established feature of the African marketing and media landscape, both literally and figuratively. It holds a greater share of advertising budgets in Africa than elsewhere and, along with digital media, has expanded in recent years: OOH media now accounts for 13% of advertising revenue in most key African markets.
Furthermore, digital OOH (DOOH) is growing substantially in all African markets, with rapid digitalisation of media assets across formats including digital billboards and digital place-based networks (DBPN).
And while the industry (particularly airport advertising and brand activation) was hit hard by the pandemic, 2021 saw it make a sharp recovery. We believe that this is just the beginning – and major growth is set to follow.
Africa is growth central
Sustained growth of 3-6% CAGR is projected for Africa over the next five-year period. Some of the social, technological and legal-political macroeconomic factors that will fuel the ongoing growth of OOH in African markets include:
- Demographics: With about 1.3-billion people, this is the world’s second-most-populous continent. It’s also home to its fastest-growing middle class. Moreover, 60% of Africa is younger than 25 years old. These factors make it appealing to brands, with the number of multinationals active across the continent a growing testament to this.
- Urbanisation: Africa’s population is urbanising at a much faster rate than that of other continents. By 2050, more than half of Africa’s people will live in its rapidly expanding cities. That’s the equivalent of the population of China. Rapid urbanisation has important implications for how residents go about their day-to-day lives, as well as how businesses operate. Urbanisation marks one of the most significant opportunities for the OOH industry, as big infrastructure development and investments aid modern and innovative OOH executions.
- Mobile connections: Africa is a highly established mobile market with more than 800-million mobile connections across the continent. OOH has a natural synergy with mobile media, so this development opens up fantastic mobile out of home (MOOH) opportunities, enabling retargeting strategies and powerful call-to-action campaigns.
- The African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Signed by 44 of the African Union’s 55 member states in 2018, this is expected to drive substantial growth on the continent.
It’s clear Africa presents a massive opportunity for the OOH industry, as long as we take steps to make the most of these developments. Ongoing development should also play a role in addressing some of the perennial challenges that confront OOH in Africa. For example, developing infrastructure may well bring a more reliable power supply, enabling a faster roll-out of digital. Then, as ever more big brands move in and OOH media ownerships continue to consolidate, this should propel standardisation of OOH media formats and sizes, along with robust media-efficacy data and enhanced campaign reporting, further driving industry growth.
Changing landscape, evolving challenges
One challenge that persistently confronts OOH is the extreme diversity in regulations and government policy concerning the medium across cities and even councils. However, the influx of infrastructure investment, along with the expansion of global and regional OOH companies, means that there is more pressure to formalise regulations and standards in key African markets.
As such, infrastructure build partners have increasingly initiated dialogues around concessions and legislature, with government and council officials displaying a growing hunger for knowledge, information sharing, and global best practice around the legislation of OOH formats and concessions. Many are demanding more from OOH media ownership, including sustainability, environmental beautification and public amenities.
PMG acquired Global Outdoor Systems in 2018, thereby expanding its presence across the continent, with an established footprint in 11 African countries. Over the last three years, we have significantly enhanced our capabilities in all our key markets by aggressively investing in systems, people and infrastructure.
In line with the growth and evolution of OOH in Africa, we have introduced our portfolio of OOH services and products into these key markets. Our ambition is to evolve and modernise OOH from a one-dimensional, billboard-dominant sector to a multidimensional medium that captures a great number of audience and consumer segments, strategically spanning multiple formats and touchpoints.
We have several focused and strategic initiatives towards reaching this goal:
- Cultivating Africa’s massive and vibrant informal sector: This contributes significantly to economies and employment while offering a huge opportunity for brands. We are therefore aggressively scaling our field merchandising, sales and brand activation operations by introducing our Field Force and Pro-Active portfolio within selected key West African markets. Our main aim is to modernise and infuse expertise within the route-to-market and brand-activation segments where the informal market is booming and client demand is high.
- Developing fit-for-purpose and scalable innovation in key segments: We are introducing and developing dynamic, flexible OOH media formats that capitalise on convergence and transit nodes, to effectively reach and service the substantial informal market in most African markets.
- Engaging with infrastructure developers and governments to introduce and launch new generation DOOH formats and networks that reach key audiences.
- Discussing the modernisation of legislation, spatial planning frameworks, and the role of OOH in the broader ecosystem with authorities, councils and municipalities, with a view towards launching longer concessions that will enable sustainable infrastructure investments and maintenance.
- Forming deeper collaborations and strategic partnerships with our Pan-African media agency partners and multinational clients to drastically increase transparency and quality of media campaign reporting. This is alongside pioneering the ramping-up of OOH media executions across various OOH segments.
- Initiating dialogue with the key players in priority markets to drive the formalisation of measurement within Africa. These include Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, along with the respective industry associations concerned with launching and establishing standardised, industry-accepted audience measurement.
In closing, we believe that the continent offers unrivalled opportunities, and we are very excited by the chance to pioneer the evolution of the OOH media segment within this space. As such, PMG is investing heavily in both growing and modernising the OOH media industry across the continent.
It’s time for Africa to take its place on the global playing field, and PMG is committed to making that happen.
Jacques du Preez is CEO and founder of the Provantage Media Group, which operates in 19 African countries, with nine specialist divisions dedicated to airports, taxi ranks, train stations, street-side billboards, malls, street furniture, large-format digital and face-to-face activations. PMG partners with clients to develop integrated media and activation solutions across multiple environments.
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