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‘Continuous innovation a must for relevancy of common currency’

By Rajiv Raghunath - September 22, 2018

Dave Roberts, Chairman, Out of Home Measurement Council, South Africa and CEO, Primedia Outdoor shares his perspectives on what it takes to develop a common currency for audience measurement metrics

As Chairman of the Out of Home Measurement Council, South Africa, you have spearheaded a vitally important initiative for the OOH industry. What are the key landmarks that you have surpassed in this journey toward establishing a common OOH currency in South Africa?

With more than 7,500 panels measured, the currency has solidified the professionalism and relevance of the OOH industry in South Africa. Having successfully introduced the currency in 2016, we now have a credible, consistent trading currency for buying and selling of out of home media. As our medium and the landscape evolves, we are also cognisant that we need to continuously innovate to ensure we build a relevant measurement offering to the industry. In response, for example, from this year we are also rolling out bi-annual satellite modelling updates, of which we just released our first update, ensuring that the measurement remains current and accurately reflects audiences.

In developing the measurement metrics, how did you go about getting the support of all OOH industry stakeholders for the initiative, more particularly to fund the project?

One of our major challenges was around funding support from all the media players. Financial contributions towards industry platforms and associations have consistently been problematic within the South African landscape due to legacy issues which has resulted in low levels of trust amongst industry players. In response to future proofing out of home, the four biggest players pulled forces to get the currency off the ground, similar to other global markets where the initial funding was dependent on a few contributions from either media owners or agencies. Now that we have successfully launched an OOH currency in South Africa, getting more South African OOH players on board with the research is a top priority for the OMC. As part of our drive to encourage participation, we have implemented a tiered discounting model to accommodate smaller media owners.

How open are the smaller OOH firms in extending their support to the project?

As clients, especially multi-nationals, are demanding more accountability from media owners to produce measurement and campaign results to demonstrate ROI, we are seeing an increasing number of briefs stipulating that sites included in the ROAD measurement will be prioritised for planning purposes.  As the measurement is gaining more traction within the agency environment, we are seeing a lot more interest from smaller media owners to participate in the measurement. 

Do you think that going digital will actually make OOH audience measurement a lot easier to track and manage?

Measuring digital requires additional methodological considerations, such as travel speed and digital slot timing. With technological advancements and data science, this is made possible as OOH measurements are becoming more scientific and robust.

Do you see the South African OOH industry growing in the wake of adoption of standard audience measurement metrics? Does it compare with the experiences of OOH industry in countries like UK, US, and Australia?

Although still in the early stages, I do envisage that the adoption of the currency will reflect what happened in the global markets and grow the SA OOH industry. As media planners can now demonstrate the value of OOH in various ways, they are able to justify better allocation and better spend within the category. However, in the current landscape with double digit growth for digital media, the adoption of an audience measurement today is also important to ensure that we future proof our medium by being on the same playing field as other media channels.

Having visited India and met with the industry leaders here, what in your view are the aspects that need the closest attention when the Indian OOH industry embarks on the journey to develop common audience measurement metrics?

Collaboration with media owners and agencies is key. The success of our currency is greatly attributed to all media owner members that have worked hard to make this measurement a success. From sharing offices to pulling resources together to having monthly committee meetings, to training of agencies, the partnership between the media owners has absolutely driven the measurement forward. Furthermore, we also work closely with agency strategists and OOH planners to ensure that our measurement is aligned to industry expectations and requirements.


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