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Research shows that the returns to brands from outdoor advertising is not only booming, but that urban consumers across the continent think that this media beautifies their suburbs and neighbourhoods.


By Lyn Jones

For many global companies Africa represents a significant market. For others who face sales declines in the credit-crunched markets of the developed world, Africa represents the next wave of opportunity and growth. The continent’s middle class is growing rapidly while more African governments are opening their economies and moving away from state-control.

The rise of the African urban consumer is another factor that will fuel long-term market growth. Today, 40 percent of Africans live in urban areas, a statistic close to that of China’s burgeoning consumer market. Research shows that the urbanisation of Africa’s consumers is set to continue. The number of households with discretionary income is projected to rise by 50 percent over the next 10 years, reaching 128 million. By 2030, the continents’ top 18 cities could have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion, say McKinsey & Company.


The out-of-home (OOH) medium is one of the most effective for advertisers in Africa and studies show that many Africans feel that OOH enhances their environment, according to studies by Millward Brown, TNS Mauritius and ZAMPS. This is supported by advertisers and marketers who claim that OOH is key to their media plans as illustrated in a recent survey to major brands throughout Africa conducted by Continental Outdoor. Many studies done by different organisations throughout the continent show the effectiveness of the medium as it relates recall and the awareness of OOH media, along with the positive perception billboards (both static and digital) have on the average consumer.

Outdoor advertising has one of the longest histories in reaching and influencing people. In many ways, it is the last ‘true’ broadcast medium. Out of Home advertising cannot be avoided. Unlike other media it cannot be turned off, zapped or the page turned over. OOH reaches everyone within the catchment area of a billboard and is not impacted by fragmentation or media choice by consumers. It’s also a medium that has continued to evolve and has increased in sophistication – both in terms of how it reaches, as well as impacts, audiences.


Strategists continue to include Outdoor Advertising in their media plans as it is a great support medium to radio and TV, ideal for brand building or tactical campaigns, achieves regional objectives, and continues to be a good visual medium in illiterate markets. OOH is still the most cost effective mass reach medium – media Planners around the world say the CPM (cost per thousand) of OOH is far more effective than other media types. An OOH campaign reaches more people for less.
The challenges facing the medium remain universal. Marketers want to see that Outdoor Advertising is more accountable and delivers a solid return on investment. Recent global research conducted by BrandScience found that for each dollar spent on out of home advertising, an average of $2.80 was received in sales. Television and print advertising have a lower ROI, yet receive a greater share of the dollars in the average media mix. The study also confirms that using Outdoor Advertising in combination with other media improves the decay rate, or time it takes for a person to forget a campaign’s advertising message. This works particularly well for TV and online advertising. When Outdoor is included, the retention rate increases by several days.

A recent study by TNS Mauritius revealed that (via 500 face-to-face interviews) 68% of consumers mentioned that they recall having seen a billboard the day before. Large billboards had the highest recall with 81% of consumers. Billboards are noted to contribute to the aesthetics of the environment with 69% of consumers agreeing that, ‘Billboards make the environment look colourful’. In addition, 50% of consumers agreed that they trust a brand or product that is advertised on a billboard.


The PAMRO 2013 country reports revealed that in Botswana, consumer recall of OOH media for large billboards is high, at 60%. Street poles follow closely with a recall of 49%. In Namibia, consumer recall for large format billboards carrying advertising is 42%. This high recall shows sensitivity to the medium. Large billboards in Zambia also have high recall, with 49% of the consumers having seen a billboard within the last 7 days.

The Zambia All Media Products Survey 2011 (ZAMPS) revealed that on average, 8 out of every 10 people have ever seen a type of either fixed or mobile advertising media. Billboards have high penetration and visibility followed by adverts on the side of vehicles and adverts on buses. Overall, 6 out of every 10 people can recall a brand advertised on the different types of OOH type they have come across.

With regards to the overall perception 9 out of 10 people are of the opinion that billboards make the environment colourful, 8 find the brand or product information on billboards useful and 7 trust the brand that is advertised on billboards.

The Continental Outdoor Media Tanzania Millward Brown Study showed that nearly 15% of the day is spent travelling. This presents a significant opportunity for OOH media. Out of all the campaigns tracked in the study, OOH media had consumer recall of 68%. The relative impact of OOH media in Tanzania is stronger than in most other developed markets in the world, however follows the trend within Africa.

Overall, consumers believe that digital and static billboards add positively to the immediate environment and are aesthetically pleasing. These multiple research projections highlight the true value of OOH Advertising.


The future growth of OOH is expected to come from Digital Outdoor Advertising. Continental Outdoor is leading the way in paving South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa’s roads, commuter and consumer convergence areas with Digital advertising screens. It is fast expanding its network across Africa into airports, malls, on escalators, bars and restaurants, and onto roadside! A key benefit of the networks is that marketers are now able to plan, by day-part, or region, across Africa.

Lyn Jones is the Marketing Manager of Continental Outdoor Media, Africa’s leading billboard advertising company which operates in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond the digitisation of OOH campaigns, Continental Outdoor now offers interactivity and inter-connectivity with mobile platforms delivering ‘commerce on the run’ for busy marketers.
Contact Jones by emailing lynj@continentaloutdoor.com or by calling her on + 27 11 514 1610.

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