by Craig Page-Lee (@cpl_ignite) I’ve previously covered the topic of the sheer physical size of Africa and the magnitude of the opportunity for brands operating there. Both are structured upon the concept of “numbers” and I have therefore decided to expand upon this and add another layer to the conversation, namely that of “measurability” and “information by numbers” on the continent.

Looking at recent report on global population numbers (dated July 2014) and obviously taking into account that there are a multitude of reports that provide different facts, figures and points of view, I reference the numbers with caution, but nevertheless have found some interesting insights that I want to share before expanding on the topic of measurability.

Big White Blank Billboard by ponsulak at
Image courtesy of ponsulak at

The Total Global population is estimated at 7 264 billion people, with the top three countries, China (1 367bn), India (1 260bn) and the US (318 816m) making up 40.4% of the world’s population.

What is incredible to note is that Nigeria (178 517m people) makes up 2.5% of the world’s population and when combining South Africa (54 002m), Tanzania (44 929m), Kenya (41 800m), Uganda (35 357m) and Ghana (27 043m) — all countries are listed in the Top 50 nations by population size — the collective number (381 648m) makes up 5.25% of the world’s population.

An enormous opportunity

It is further estimated that, by 2050, the total population of Africa will make up nearly a quarter of the world’s population. This presents an enormous opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on the continent.

A recent McKinsey & Company report on Global Consumer Spending Growth predicts a CAGR for Middle East/Africa of 13% by 2017. Then consider that, by 2020, it is estimated that 50% of all Africans will be middle-class and that mobile penetration on the continent is expected to reach 84%. How can brands not want to be present on the continent?

This is where the topic of measurability really comes to life, especially when many markets on the continent remain unregulated, where media platforms are fragmented (in excess of 173 radio stations in Kenya alone, and 15-30 TVCs per break and in excess of 187 ads in a daily newspaper in another country on the continent) and where the highest-reaching TV channel in a particular country could possibly be the digital-screen network installed across all of a particular retail brand’s stores in that country.

Points to consider

There are:

  • in excess of 11 000 billboard faces (3mx6m and larger) in South Africa — excluding all streetpoles and small formats, all retail malls and all digital networks within airports and transport nodes and all mobile/moving media — and delivered by over 170 media/operators
  • in excess of 1 300 billboard faces in Uganda — predominantly in the cities of panels in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja
  • in excess of 1 200 billboard faces in Tanzania — predominantly in the cities of Dar es Salaam and Arusha
  • in excess of 2 000 billboard faces in Kenya — predominantly in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Voi, Ukunda, Malindi, Naivasha, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kisii
  • in excess of 10 100 billboard faces (3mx6m and larger) in Nigeria — predominantly in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna and delivered by over 120 media owners/operators and 57% of the investment being made in Lagos.

This presents over 25 600 opportunities to reach consumers when out of home and 25 600 opportunities to deliver a clear call to action for brands using these faces in these economically active countries on the continent. Again, how can brands not want to use this medium on the continent?

Now consider that the Nigerian OOH spend has grown from US$59.1m in 2008 to around US$177.8m in 2013, with the top two sectors using this medium being telecommunications and beer.

Top four brands

The top four brands spending in the region are MTN, Glo, Etisalat and Airtel. The collective size of the market for Kenya (US$33m), Uganda (US$27m) and Tanzania (US$30m) is US$90m and the value of the total OOH market in SA is in the region of US$35m* — including previously unreported media income from a number of OOH platforms.

In Nigeria, OOH accounted for 23% of national advertising spend SOV in 2013 versus 47% for TV; in SA, the OOH* accounted for just over 10% of national advertising spend SOV versus about 45.4% for TV in 2013.

Digital OOH is available in the top 10 cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, and this accounts for about 27% of national OOH advertising spend, a significantly higher allocation to the platform compared to SA, where huge investments have been made by the likes of Continental Outdoor Media and Primedia Unlimited in the roadside format, which will see a rapid increase in the amount of budget being allocated to this format in SA. In Kenya, DOOH accounts for less than 5% of national OOH spend and less than 2% in Tanzania and Uganda.

How do we prove the efficacy?

As detailed as the information is on spend value and SOV, the truth is that there is not a single country on the continent that can produce a measure of effectiveness for every one of the networks within its offering. So how do we then prove the efficacy of this far-reaching medium when no level of formal data-collection exists?

In most instances, OOH spend measurement is limited to past 7 days exposure in AMPS survey, or from bespoke on-the-ground billboard-by-billboard audits that take a huge amount of time and financial investment to complete across the vastness of Africa.

You may say that the digital networks will allow a greater level of measurability — certainly, but only if the campaigns are integrated and are developed with a strong call-to-action, driving consumers to mobisites or other interactive platforms that have been directly influenced by the message on these billboards. It is important to tailor messages across the regions to establish efficacy of the medium in a particular region vs another.

Stand up to interrogation

Advertisers demand measurement and ROI metrics that can stand up to interrogation by their executives, measurement on the real impact of campaign messages and beyond just numbers that list the frequency of an advert being aired — or seen, in the case of billboards.

Advertisers want insights on outcomes and not outputs, insights on conversation starters and sales conversions. This is nowhere more apparent than in Africa, as new brands embrace the opportunities in a low-margin, high-volume market. We do still have some way to go before this become a standard for any post-campaign reporting, though.

Creative agencies need to heed the call to create integrated campaigns that respond to the OOH medium appropriately; and produce relevant and purposeful messages that enable participation and lead consumers to a digital point of engagement or into retail stores where genuine measures can be derived.

Creative and media agencies need to work together to ensure that the industry gets to a point where we produce the metrics that actually measure if consumers are participating in the channel in an optimal way and not just viewing the channel.

Learnings from European counterparts

Technology obviously plays the biggest role in this regard, with the high levels of mobile penetration and access to the internet through mobile handsets rising at a rapid rate on the continent.

Another way to fast-track this topic is to take some learnings from what our European counterparts are achieving where partnerships have been established between mobile operators and media owners — this is not any different to the deals that digital agencies are making with the likes of Google and Facebook.

Mobile operators are able to identify where their customers are (location-based information), what search activity is taking place when these customers are out of home (only what categories are being searched as Protection of Personal Information Acts will not allow the granular details to be revealed). Then create a layer of hotspot proximity to billboards and we can develop totally integrated campaigns using the combination of these key platforms to allow advertisers a much more accurate opportunity of connection and engaging with consumers.

With data at the epicentre of all this, we can surely prove value for every marketing cent spent.

The biggest question of all

Who will be first out of the starting blocks in the race to mine the new “gold” of raw data on the continent? The media owners? The media agencies? The telecommunications companies? Or possibly a combination of all — something that I believe will be best for the industry?

Craig Page-LeeCraig Page-Lee (@cpl_ignite) is the group managing director of Posterscope South Africa. He has over 21 years of working experience across the disciplines of architecture and retail design/brand communications and marketing management/advertising and media, across 11 pan-European and six pan-African regions. Craig’s monthly column on MarkLives, “Beyond Borders”, focuses on doing business in various African markets. Don’t forget to tune into his #eBizRetail slot on


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