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From your experience from working on major brands across Africa, how would you advise clients on how to win in Africa with OOH and Digital OOH?

 Kirsty Carlson

General Manager – Africa

OMG (Omnicom Media Group)

 Kirsty Carlson

Kirsty Carlson

24 July . 4 min read . Opinion

(Credit: OMG, Ghana)

Africa is a diverse continent of cultures, languages, and landscapes. When we approach media in Africa the first rule is to not assume the media landscape and media consumption of 1 market, is the same as the other just because we are all on the same continent. In addition, some of the African markets also have different and, in some cases, more stringent regulations when it comes to advertising. So always ensure you are upskilled to understand these fully.

The way consumers behave and their particular consumer journeys will differ in the various African markets, whilst there may be overarching similarities such as daily travel for Home – work – shop -Home as a basic example, when you get into the detail such as the time spent in transit, it is a lot higher in many markets than in South Africa due to extremely high traffic, as well as the transport used for people to commute can differ by market, Such as a ‘Boda Boda’ Motorbike in East Africa, ‘Dala Dala’ in Tanzania etc, and where they shop for their daily  / weekly / monthly shop can differ.  

Road and building infrastructure can be different in some markets, as an example a market like Angola has many round-abouts / circles. Therefore something you would consider here when selecting your sites is viewability; Back to back boards around round-abouts can mean that certain boards can be covered from view.

All of the above contributes to the varying landscapes and in such effects the OOH inventory available and developed in these markets and how you plan OOH in these markets. OOH in Africa is mostly a cluttered space, and so to deliver on your OOH Objectives, your OOH strategy and plan needs to be tailored specifically for that market. And you need to mitigate the risk of being another OOH ad in a sea of boards. This is where understanding the market, the way and where people spend their time, whether it be commuting, shopping and leisure, is extremely important. And as always with OOH it is important to be relevant. To understand how your audience behaves, where your brand is within the journey and target them where it is relevant for them.

Whilst there may be similar formats found across markets, there is often a more dominant format in the markets. As an example Mozambique Maputo – you will find a lot of wall sites on tall buildings due to the town planning and infrastructure in this city. Here you would need to approach your OOH planning that you have suitable and latest view of the sites from different angles to ensure it is not blocked by another building, and to evaluate if it has a good run up to be seen by the person driving on the road or if it is to high up and unable to be seen. Or alternatively you could locate a format that provides differentiation, or use innovation to stand out. Kenya as another example, you will find there is a dominant format of portrait 10m x 5m boards than you would find in another African market.

DOOH has grown across the continent over the past 10 years. We also now have programmatic DOOH in selected markets. This is a great achievement for OOH in Africa, however it is important that you also ensure selection of quality DOOH screens. With this increase of screens in markets, there is a lot of screens in many markets that are not of high quality. You can book your ad on a DOOH Screen, but is it visually appealing and impactful if the screen is not of good quality? No.

The below guidelines are what I would suggest to anyone approaching OOH in Africa:

  1. Always tailor your OOH strategy and plan to the particular African Market. Do not ‘copy and paste’ the same strategy across multiple African Markets. Use market knowledge to build your tailored approach.
  2. Understand your audience and how they move around Out of Home in the particular market. This is a universal rule with OOH, but particularly in Africa. You will find differences and insights across the markets when you build your strategy from this understanding of audience behaviour and movement.
  3. Always ask for the latest visuals of the sites you are considering.
  4. There is always quantity but look for quality sites / formats that you would want your brand on / associated with. Be careful booking sites that structures look like they are in bad condition or have not been maintained.
  5. Use Innovation (or format differentiation) to stand out of the clutter.
  6. If Illumination is important for your brand– remember power to boards in Africa can be a difficult feat in selected countries and rural areas. Be aware of this and consider possible solves with innovation.
  7. Monitoring – It’s important to understand that whilst main cities are easier to attain monthly photo evidence for monitoring and compliance, a lot of rural areas takes time to travel to and as such you often find that in Rest of Africa OOH monitoring reporting has a different frequency depending on the market and area. You need to factor this into your monitoring and reporting cadence. Talk to your vendors before booking so that you understand the frequency of photo evidence, and if more frequent monitoring is required and there are additional costs for this, then ensure that it is factored into your costs upfront.
  8. Last but not least Travel to as many African markets as you can. Do market OOH site visits. The best way to understand the markets OOH landscape is to see it first-hand. If travelling is not always an option, seek out and engage with expert knowledge from Africa experienced agencies, and suppliers in market.

Be open to learning when doing media in Africa. Understand that what you may know about 1 market can be very different in another, so be flexible in your knowledge and understanding.

Africa lends itself to be an incredible space for more and more OOH innovation, so bring the great ideas and ensure to tailor them to the market, landscape and audience insights.

Senior experienced director with a demonstrated history of working in the South Africa and Rest of Africa media and advertising industry.

In her career, Kirsty has also developed and led successful OOH centralised shared service departments for 2 large media groups in South Africa.

Over and above Kirsty’s media experience, she is experienced and passionate about operations, empowerment, and people development.