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2022 and beyond

There is no denying it, South African OOH audiences have returned en masse as they step out of their covid cocoons, kick off their fluffy slippers and slip into more formal attire for the workplace. It’s been almost 2 years since we were told to stay at home and become “mute on” savvy. We have all lost a lot during this time, but we have sure grown in leaps and bounds through digitisation of what we do on a daily basis and how media has developed during this time.   

For marketers wanting to reach consumers on the go between their commitments, the opportunities are in abundance as audiences are proving to be more mobile than ever. With caution and consideration included in the OOH purchase decision, we should see positive growth for the medium in 2022.

The rebound of OOH has aligned and been fuelled by digitisation. The global OOH forecasts have been reviewed over the past few weeks and the OOH positioning is robust across various sources. Dentsu reports a forecasted growth of 12%; MAGNA a 11% growth rate; and GroupM a forecast of 15% – positioning OOH as the second fastest growing medium to Digital yet again, on the back of a positive 2021 allowing the medium to come out of the pandemic situation strongly. In 2021 we saw a growth in demand for both DOOH and traditional platforms, but DOOH was the driving force. Programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) became more and more prevalent as we saw an increase in media owners subscribing to supply side platforms offering inventory through automated technologies.

In South Africa over the past year, we as media owners have seen an increase in demand for OOH as publicly available audience movement resources, including Primedia Outdoor’s very own Prime(i), has shown an increase in audiences and their mobility across major OOH environments, signalling a move of audiences from their homes into the outdoors.

For 2022, South Africa will follow the global trends of DOOH revenue growth as networks expand and popular technologies are adopted to keep up with the international benchmarks. Flexibility of buying DOOH was highlighted in 2021 as a must from marketers and we will see further developments in 2022, especially as we see OOH in South Africa becoming one of the last freely available visually impactful creative mediums to consumers.

The indisputable brand building visual capability of OOH will play a pivotal role as we see marketers sourcing prime locations across South Africa subsequent to the impact of March and April 2020, which saw local and international brands remove key OOH communication placements across major cities. OOH is positioned perfectly as a mass targeted visual medium that offers marketers the opportunity to showcase their brands across a creative canvas that is located exactly where it is intended to target.

The South African OOH environments will be vital for marketers to consider in light of our consumers settling into a return to a some what normal way of living and working – they are out and about and ready to be engaged with. Some key themes to consider in the OOH environments are as follows:

  • Business travel through airports may still be below pre-Covid levels due to the advancement in digitisation of communication. However, people are keen to engage face to face and will plan their business travel more strategically.
  • Commuter market continues to be a viable market as ranks and stations (the ones that are still operational) are functioning at full capacity.
  • Malls/Retail – there will be omnichannel enhancements due to e-commerce growth, and location-based advertising is pivotal as the last point of contact before a physical purchase. Augmented and virtual reality will become a key product in this environment too, as shoppers are curious about experiences.
  • Roadside – remains powerful as audiences have become more flexible and increasingly mobile throughout the day, compared to pre-Covid patterns of inflexibility.

The value of an OOH placement and how a campaign is executed is and will be more important now than ever before. For the past few years, we have seen an influx of billboards across the roadside environment – where scale and location irregularities are evident, making the decision difficult for marketers to choose OOH. When choosing OOH, ensure it is validated with credible data and strategic application to the brief. There are OOH specialists across the country that are able to ensure they are providing the best possible solution for your brands – please use them! We at Primedia Outdoor, pride ourselves in having one of the best marketing services departments in Africa, with access to sophisticated strategy and media planning tools. We have reconnected with marketers and agencies over the past year as OOH specialists to help solve their OOH and insight needs.

Measurement has been a formidable asset to the OOH industry over the past few years, as we have seen the adoption of ROAD from the OMC by the media industry with many more media owners joining, in an effort to sell their inventory as the demand for measurement increases. As an industry, we are looking forward to seeing measurement being brought into more environments in the foreseeable future, increasing the value of these locations even further. In 2022, we will see the start of the static transit currency come to life with a newly formed JIC from the OMC.

Because of measurement, we are able to deliver impressions for the programmatic buy. This is a giant leap for OOH, as we are officially part of the digital mix and it allows for integrated omnichannel positioning due to the audience measurement of our platform building on impressions and delivering adverts that are positioned prolifically as a one-to-many delivery on limited available space. Sequential messaging along the consumers’ journey will be an elevated opportunity this year.

Over the past 20 months we have seen a number of media owners adopt this product and propose the programmatic or automated buy to marketers on supply side platforms. I believe 2022 will see an increase in marketers utilising pDOOH, with some using this channel to get onto OOH for the first time due to the precise targeting, streamlined buying that pDOOH delivers. pDOOH will be seen on more marketers’ schedules as an ever-expanding pool of media owners and advertisers adopt the capability of selling and buying DOOH inventory automatically.

However, decisions regarding audience measurement need to be made with curiosity, ensuring transparency on how an OOH asset is valued. There needs to be a level of standardisation in how audiences are captured and represented. New technologies allow for current data to be integrated with ROAD measurement to get an understanding of what is currently happening on the roadside, but media owners are utilising different sources and analysing the data differently. We have also observed this on a global level, and we are all looking forward to standardisation of measurement in the near future from the World Out-of-Home Organization (WOO) developed on behalf of WOO by industry specialist Gideon Adey of the GUROOH consultancy.

Sticking with standardisation, a major pain point for anyone involved with DOOH – an industry standard is needed for proof of play of DOOH inventory. According to Outdoor Auditors August 2021 audit, there are currently over 444 DOOH screens in South Africa belonging to a number of media owners, each having their own reporting method or adhering to a specifified structure from marketers or agencies. Reporting needs to be simplified and easily transferable across large networks and environments. DOOH is one of the main driving forces behind OOH growth and will continue to deliver the results and expectations of marketers, but accountability in DOOH must be a priority for 2022. The recent introduction of Seedooh, an OOH verification company contracted to Outdoor Auditors is a promising advancement in the accountability of DOOH for South Africa.

That being said, as per Vistar Media, DOOH is well positioned as we move further into the data privacy era, as OOH utilises probabilistic models using representative data on anonymized location data to understand aggregated consumer movement, not constant tracking of an individual. According to Dentsu, brands “will be forced to find alternative avenues of identification beyond names and email addresses to group interactions”.  In addition, Vistar Media states that “it can allow advertisers to get in front of their target audiences without one-to-one targeting”.

As marketers, agencies and media owners work towards a sustainable future, brand and corporate citizenship will rise in South Africa over the next year. It’s not only up to the brands to stand tall in embracing concepts of sustainability and citizenship, but it is up to each and every member of this industry to support and participate in sustainable initiatives. As an advocate of sustainability and support for our communities, I look forward to what the industry will give back in 2022 and beyond.

Published on 7 April 2022 by The Media Online