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The out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry was greatly affected by the Covid pandemic, but has been experiencing a recovery since the lifting of lockdown restrictions. A recent FM Redzone discussion – sponsored by Tractor Outdoor, Airport Ads and Outdoor Network, and moderated by Livia Brown from what3things – focused on how the outdoor industry has been faring.

The airport space was hard hit by the pandemic as travel restrictions were put in place. Mzi Deliwe, deputy CEO at Provantage Media Group said airports have recovered with greatly increased passenger numbers as well as more interest from advertisers for airport advertising space.

Locally, figures from July 2022 have recovered about 70% compared with July 2019, Deliwe said. SA is a sought-after global destination and local airports are expecting increased passenger volumes over the December holiday season. Smaller airports such as George have benefited from the work-from-home trend, with more people moving out of large cities to smaller towns.

Anisa Kale, owner and founder of Keys Communication, said the township audience behaviour has changed since the pandemic. The trend of doing more shopping locally at spaza shops has persisted post the pandemic and has in turn given rise to more township entrepreneurs. Township consumers – particularly the youth – are doing more online shopping from the comfort of their homes. “We expect this trend to continue,” said Kale.

Online and offline integration offers the biggest opportunities in the OOH space, said Sadika Fakir, integrated media and digital director, group marketing at Tiger Brands. Creative excellence is just as important when it comes to OOH advertising as it is for any other advertising platform, she said; brands cannot repurpose a print ad for OOH.

Many media owners struggle to connect with agencies. Celia Collins, vice-president of media at Publicis Media, said media owners need to stand out and must understand the landscape and the brand’s consumer.

Static, traditional OOH still has a place, said Warren Dugmore, head of sales at Outdoor Network. Since the pandemic there has been increased demand for static OOH advertising space, which has undergone some interesting innovations in recent years.

Programmatic, or optimised, planning is often regarded as a complex and difficult-to-navigate space. Pointing out that this form of advertising has come a long way in recent years, Remi du Preez, commercial director at Tractor Outdoor explained that buying programmatic advertising is merely another way to buy OOH and a place, when relevant, and that it should not be regarded as intimidating. OOH can be monitored in real time, which is a big advantage.

Sally Stewart, head of OOH at GroupM, explained that what clients are looking for is an action or a transaction. Communication must create a connection with the audience. Offline advertising plays an important role pushing consumers online. Getting it right relies on understanding who the target audience is. 

Coca-Cola has effectively used OOH to engage with and excite audiences. Ivania Naidoo, media planning manager at Coca-Cola SA, said a stand-out Coca-Cola OOH ad is a Coke karaoke billboard that is about to be launched. OOH gives consumers an experience, which helps brings a brand to life, she said.

The big take-outOut-of-home advertising helps to build brands through its wide reach.

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