‘DOOH has seen significant growth in South Africa’
By Rajiv Raghunath - August 18, 2023
Dave Roberts, Chairman of OOH & Head of M+A, Primedia, South Africa shares his perspectives on OOH business patterns in South Africa and rest of Africa, market readiness for programmatic OOH, among other key factors. Edited excerpts of the interview with Rajiv Raghunath.
As the largest wholly South Africa owned OOH company, how do you see the OOH business prospects shaping up in South Africa and indeed rest of Africa where you do business?
Over the last five years the South African industry has seen growth in the number of media owners as well as the amount of inventory installed. In this period there has been a net increase of 1,280 new panels. However, over 1,250 panels were removed, meaning that over 2,530 new panels have been installed.
Part of this growth in inventory has been driven by poor regulation on the behalf of local authorities and media owners willing to install new sites without the appropriate approvals. The main consequence of this increase in inventory has been the negative impact on pricing with supply exceeding demand. This was also exacerbated by the pandemic. The industry has largely recovered from the pandemic and as the new opportunities are mopped up by the advertisers, we anticipate growth in the future.
In the markets outside of South Africa in which we operate the markets shrugged off the effects of the pandemic quite quickly and have shown growth over the last 3 years.
Are the markets geared up for DOOH expansion, and is there scope for more roadside DOOH media in South Africa and rest of Africa?
The growth in DOOH has been significant over the last five years. In South Africa outdoor auditors have reported that the number of screens has grown from 170 in 2018 to 507 in 2023. The market has adopted DOOH with better utilisation and the short lead times for advertisers to implement their campaigns has been positively embraced by them.
There are still massive opportunities for growth in DOOH in secondary cities with most of the installed sites located in major urban areas.
In the rest of Africa, the adoption of DOOH is also growing and is becoming a larger and larger share of our revenues generated in those markets.
To what extent has the adoption of audience metrics contributed to OOH growth in South Africa?
It is difficult to conclude that the growth that we have experienced is a result of audience measurement. However, if we review how the Outdoor Measurement Council (the body that was created by the industry to provide audience measurement) has performed, it can be concluded that it has had a positive impact.
In 2014 when we started, we had four members and this has now increased to 31. These media owners represent approximately 50% of all the inventory in South Africa.
In 2022 we adopted MGE as our technical partner and whilst this was challenging, we have bedded it down and we anticipate additional members joining. An area that still requires improvement is the media buyer usage of the system but we again anticipate that this will improve as the software to access the data is free whereas in the past it was very expensive.
Are the African markets open to adoption of ad tech and DOOH programmatic platforms?
Programmatic DOOH has been adopted very positively in South Africa with most DOOH media owners enabled to offer programmatic. Countries in the rest of Africa are being more cautious but we see that they will follow the trend especially when multinational businesses start using programmatic for buying in these markets.
Looking ahead, will business eventually consolidated in the hands of few media companies or with new technologies coming up, is there a proliferation of media owning firms and agencies?
We do not see major consolidation of media owners happening in the next 2 to 3 years in South Africa or in the rest of Africa. This is driven by the heightened levels of risk due to exchange rate volatility, lack of certainty in regulation and very high valuation expectations.
Finally, are you seeing more creativity and innovation on the OOH canvas?
The creative side of our industry is always something that can be improved. We do see examples of award seeking creative executions but all too often this does not flow into base load outdoor advertising.