Despite the reach that broadcast mediums such as radio and television provide, none can compete with Out of Home (OOH) media in terms of frequency and cost efficiency
Although broadcast media provide advertisers with access to their markets, it is done at considerable expense across a variety of stations. Because our society is dynamic and constantly on the move, the need for media "on the go" is growing too. As suburbs start to evolve into the undeveloped areas, so too do the retail and commercial industries to best serve their consumers' needs.
The most effective method to reach these new Diasporas is through OOH. Why does OOH advertising have an advantage over its competitors? Les Holley, executive director of Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA) explains: "Globally, OOH media follows progress, both commercially and industrially, and in South Africa it is no different. OOH serves as an ideal broad-based commercial medium, as well as providing advertisers and planners with a tool to capture specific markets."
OOH moves with markets and any brand wanting to capitalise on such markets would follow the movement in population. Some parts of the city, like Newtown in Johannesburg, undergo a revamping process, and because OOH is easily adaptable to all types of environments and surroundings, it makes the ideal medium to communicate with diverse markets.
There are however restrictions and laws that come into play; for example, every legal site location is determined by municipal bylaws that ensure a minimum distance between OOH advertising sites. This system is based on speed, for example, in a 60km/h zone, sites have to have a distance of 200m between them and this distance increases with higher speed zones.
Value of compliance
"At times, OOH has been accused of clutter in certain areas," says Holley. "However this is mainly due to outdoor operators who are not compliant with OHMSA and its constitution nor with the applicable regulator's bylaws and are often found to be unapproved.The industry needs to realise that areas with cluttered spaces means that media owners, clients and landlords all lose out."
As Holley explains, media owners cannot charge premium rates in a cluttered environment; which in turn affects the landlord who loses out on the site rental. Clients also lose out on exposure and impact as their brand message is competing with other OOH messages in the same area.
Responsible outdoor operators remove excess OOH infrastructure in dying areas, but still allow for a certain number of sites in the locality to reach these markets. For example, in the early 1990s, the route to Sun City was heaving with more than 200 OOH sites, today visitors can expect to see only 40. "In fact, in the past 15 years, OOH in general has cut back on the number of sites," says Holley.
Media owners are taking pride in their sites, by beautifying the environment around the sites and replacing outdated structures with more stable and aesthetically pleasing versions. These sites not only add value to the advertiser and brand, but also to the community. With industry investing more capital into upgrading their sites, it does not make sense for the sites to become cluttered. Further to this, OOH advertising is regulated in all cities and is controlled in the residential and suburban areas.
Generally, the only forms of OOH allowed in suburban areas are suburban signs, litterbins, bus shelters and street pole ads to a lesser extent. In most instances, trailers are meant to be constantly attached to a vehicle when they are stationary during peak hours but should be moving at all other times during the day. "OHMSA and its members have in the past worked closely with regulators to designate certain areas as sign alleys," says Holley. "These areas, for example Queen Elizabeth Bridge in Johannesburg and the Airport precinct, are subject to a high volume of slow moving traffic. In these cases, the normal spacing areas are relaxed."
"The biggest challenge that remains is to get the media owner to adhere to the regulations and approval processes," says Holley. "It is invariably this non-adherence to regulations that overpopulate certain areas with outdoor signage"