“The need for research that is credible, and a common standard is undeniable. Without these essential elements, global brands will not invest or will invest less,” emphasised Celia Collins VP of Publicis Media – Publicis Groupe Africa, during the inaugural Africa Forum organised by The World Out of Home Organisation (WOO) in early 2022. Her powerful statement continues to resonate in 2023, underscoring the urgent need for credible research and standardised measurement in African countries.
Collins emphasised the necessity for collaboration among marketers, media owners, and advertisers to secure the funding required for obtaining reliable research in the continent. This joint effort is vital in ensuring the availability of the credible data that informs strategic decisions and drives progress.
As we reflect on these statements in 2023, it remains evident that South Africa stands alone as the sole African country with a with an established Out of Home (OOH) trading currency and reliable research known as ROAD 2.0. The Out of Home Measurement Council (OMC) launched ROAD in 2015 as a Joint Industry Committee (JIC) specifically for roadside inventory in South Africa. Initially established and sponsored by four media owners, the OMC has now grown to encompass 40 members in 2023, representing 70% of urban roadside inventory in South Africa. Primedia Outdoor, as a founding member of the OMC, continues to demonstrate its commitment by providing ongoing support and investment in this currency.
The fact that there is no currency in other African markets should not overshadow the significant efforts made so far for audience measurement. Multiple OOH media owners have demonstrated unwavering determination to showcase the extensive audience reach, mobility, and targeting capabilities of OOH in line with continued infrastructure development and growth in digital OOH (DOOH) throughout Africa. Their collective endeavours aim not only to establish OOH’s credibility as a brand platform but also to emphasise its effectiveness as a performance-driven medium.
In 2021, Primedia Outdoor launched an initiative to implement audience measurement capabilities across its DOOH inventories in seven African markets, namely Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zambia. This initiative, supported by LMX, a supply-focused subsidiary of the Moving Walls Group, empowers Primedia Outdoor with location intelligence capabilities, enhancing transparency, accountability, and attribution for advertisers and agency clients.
The audience measurement system applied to Primedia’s DOOH screens facilitates the evaluation of reach, frequency, and impressions – leveraging a patented multi-signal audience measurement platform that combines various data sources to generate near real-time insights. Additionally, it enables the profiling of locations based on the demographics of audiences near OOH sites and digital billboards.
In the same year, Pikasso, an OOH media owner operating in the Levant, North Africa, and West Africa regions, leading the drive to programmatic DOOH, joined forces with Broadsign Reach to introduce the inaugural African programmatic DOOH campaign in Ivory Coast. This milestone was achieved through the expertise of Admobilize, a leading authority in audience verification for DOOH.
Following suit in 2022, Primedia Outdoor successfully executed its first programmatic DOOH campaign in Nigeria, collaborating with Google’s DV360 and Broadsign Reach. This campaign exemplified the potential of utilising DOOH to effectively engage a large target audience through seamless and automated buying capabilities from the platforms.
Alongside the above-mentioned audience measurement companies, audience data is available across many African countries from leading data capturing entities such as Lifesight; Quividi; AllUnite; IRL; Lightstone; Vicinity, and Tomaco, operating in key markets. Credible research companies across the continent are also committed to driving credible audience measurement with the right investment. Additionally, there has been growing interest from other international audience measurement companies that have currently only have a presence in Europe and the United States.
Following the measurement successes from Primedia Outdoor, there has been increased interest from advertisers wanting to utilise the power of programmatic DOOH to target key markets in Africa. Still, this is not to the magnitude of support and revenue generation we have seen in South Africa, where programmatic DOOH has established itself as a powerful tool for advertisers to execute DOOH campaigns based on performance metrics mainly from a standardised currency ROAD 2.0 and other real-time data sources.
Although programmatic DOOH is in its infancy across key markets outside of South Africa. The demand for OOH and DOOH is evident, year-on-year increases in OOH average at 15%. And OOH as an industry across Africa, represents a significant share of advertising spend as showcased by recent data from WOO, estimating OOH at 12% of total media spend and DOOH at 19% of this share in 2022. This is significantly higher for OOH share of media spend than what is reported from Nielsen or Outdoor Auditors for South Africa as a standalone, and higher than the global average of 5%.
While borderless technological advancements have made data more accessible in Africa for research, cost remains a significant barrier for many players due to weaker local currencies against the American Dollar or Euro, the common trade currencies for global audience measurement companies. With no less than a thousand OOH media owners across the continent, standardisation and common measurement practices are essential, and individual media owners cannot achieve this alone due to the current cost of available data and research.
As the appointed WOO ambassador for Africa and drawing upon the insightful discussions held at the WOO Global Congress in Lisbon during June, where the significance of standardisation and measurement was unequivocally acknowledged for driving OOH growth, accountability, and credibility, it becomes imperative for us to unite in safeguarding the future of OOH and attracting sustained investments from advertisers. Demonstrated by its impact in leading OOH markets like the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, and notably recently in South Africa, measurement has consistently fostered growth and proven to be a catalyst for success.
As an industry firmly committed to unlocking the immense growth potential of the African continent, it is crucial that we underscore the paramount importance of credible and reliable measurement practices. By establishing commonalities and ensuring robust measurement standards, we can instil confidence in advertisers’ decision-making processes pertaining to OOH. While OOH companies traditionally compete for OOH dollars, we must recognise the collective advantage of competing for media dollars, which can yield a staggering eightfold increase in revenue. Investing in a comprehensive audience currency is a shared investment that delivers a collective return, fostering the growth and prosperity of the entire industry.