Quality outdoor advertising makes world-class cities – Mbanefo

Dozie Mbanefo is the Managing Director of New Crystal Communications Ltd and unarguably one of Nigeria’s marketing communications best and brightest practitioners. In this interview with MARKETING EDGE’s Ralph Tathagata, he speaks on how his agency is deploying static and digital billboards to propel Nigerian outdoor to new heights. He also highlights how the media asset owner is positioning to use 5G to shape the future of the industry.

What’s your view on Nigeria’s contemporary out-of-home advertising?

Out-of-home advertising, as far as I am concerned, is catching up pretty quickly with current trends because of its peculiar nature. If you look at what is happening across the world, people are more outdoor than ever. People now spend more time on their smartphones and on the social media; all those things are basically outdoor and not indoor activities any more. And the medium that is always interacting with the social media and other supposed indoor activities is out-of-home advertising. So,

I would say that outdoor advertising is moving with the trends as the case may be today. If you look at the digital platform, you will find out that outdoor can actually do and it’s already doing much more than what people think it is. You will find out that digital is not just about playing video on steel, but is engaging even in terms of the platforms and the way it plays its ads; the way it lights up the environment and most importantly, the values that come with it.

You will now be able to do a lot of CRS with it; you will also be able to engage people by giving traffic updates and all those are digitally connected through IT platforms. You will be able to display time, temperature, traffic on the roads and information from government. So, digital billboard in its nature has caught up with social media, CRS and the society in general. If you look at it today, a particular digital billboard that you pass through has the ability to divide its screen into multiple segments. And within each of those segments you will find out that different pieces of information, apart from the product that it is showing, can be passed simultaneously.

The most important thing about this medium unlike the way I would talk about TV and radio and the rest of them is that it’s pretty cheap. Very cheap in the sense that it’s out there 365 days in a year. And being there, if you have a location of a billboard for instance on the Third Mainland Bridge, another one on Airport Road, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello Way, you will find out that everybody in that town will pass through one of those locations at least once in every three days or in a week. And they don’t have to pay to see it. That means almost everybody in the town or city will get to see what you have paid for. So, it’s not like it’s staying for a day or a few days. If you have an advert there for a quarter or something, obviously everybody in that town will get to see it, including the CRS that it drags along with it. People are beginning to get used to the fact that from digital billboards they can pick information about government, traffic and a whole lot of things. It’s even interactive because when you talk about outdoor advertising, it’s those things that catch you when you are out there. Whether it’s at the airport, the mall or at the bus stop, they are all outdoor advertising.

If you look at the malls and even the ones at the airport, they are pretty engaging today. Most of them provide Wi-fi platforms for your phones. So, when you get close to any of them, it gives you Wi-fi and then even the advert that is playing on the screen comes alive on your phone and their interactive base is usually massive. There are some of them that you can walk up to the screen and play with it because you can even look at three segments like we are doing in some malls. You will see yourself when you start walking towards the screen and whatever move you make it makes with you. For instance, we are currently deploying a couple of drinking bars that will be able to do karaoke and engage people at different levels. Let’s assume there is a football match going on, and someone at the backend observes that no one is talking. The screen might be in Port Harcourt and someone in Lagos just posts something like “Jay Jay just scored a goal, what do you guys think?” It’s all about making the whole thing interactive.

So, I think based on what is happening today, outdoor advertising is creating that interactivity that carries the future of the young and also carries the future of the world and where it is going. There is no way you can do without that medium. It is there, it must be seen, and you don’t pay to see it; you just have to drive or walk through to see it. And it is attracting extra attention and creating so much good CRS that is making things better than they would be.

As a very big player in that sector, do you think digital is going to completely supplant traditional?

No. It won’t because digital has its own area of play both in interactivity and in drawing attention. But outdoor is also a shared platform, mind you. Sometimes you need to be somewhere alone to be able to pull that attention to yourself, so it must be a balance between the two. Yes, digital has so many advantages even in terms of material print because you can deploy it within seconds. You don’t have to wait for flex to be printed; you can also change materials and play multiple campaigns.

But, there is also something about static – a static billboard is you, and it’s you not shared. Let me draw you into something which we have noticed and as result of that, we have decided to play static on digital. There are billboards we’ve been deploying; we have already deployed one in Port Harcourt and another one in Abuja. They are large format billboards of about 100
x 30 ft minimum. And at the end of these billboards, we have about 6 x 3 metres LED attached to the board together. So, what is happening is that this is a large format static and at the end, it’s an LED of 6 x 3 metres. Remember, 6 x 3 metres is not that small. Now, you are drawing a massive presence and attention to that board with your large format static display. Then that digital now serves to play your video ads, your products and all those alternations as well as your CRS. So, on that platform, we can display time, temperature, traffic situation, news and any kind of interactivity.

The client on this static platform is exclusive and we are trying to make the cost as friendly as possible. That’s why we are keeping it to 6 x 3 metres so we can use solar to power it and cut the cost so that clients will be able to pay for static and digital at almost a price they would have paid for a digital. We have been deploying them in Port Harcourt, Aba, Abuja, Benin, Kano and Kaduna. For most of them the structures are ready and for some others conversions are still going on.

That’s what we have looked at and decided to match traditional and digital so that clients will comfortably be able to drag their CRS, attraction and interactivity into the screen, and most importantly, have their dominant platform on the static board. Your question drew me into this and I believe I have been able to demonstrate that there is no way you can throw away traditional outdoor advertising.

There has always been this concern about digital in terms of measuring the Return on Investment (ROI).
Industry analysts maintain that countless digital impressions do not always end in brand buy or service patronage. What’s your take on that?

ROI data as far as I am concerned is still a little bit of a problem, especially when it comes to matching data to the real situation. There are technologies today, which we are also deploying, that could grab all the eye balls on a digital board and even segment them into male and female, including recording their age bracket. Now, I must tell you that the formula with which people transit data to go to bottom ROI is always a thin line. For me, I have looked at a lot of data conversion system that do all these from what you call the outdoor to real bottom line and it’s neither here nor there. But I stand to consistently say that when we go to the bottom line of what advertising is, which is the opportunity to see, digital has a 100+% chance. Remember that advertising is an opportunity to see. Now, how does that opportunity to see create the bottom line for your product? Data calculation and the rest will bring data into it, but if there is no opportunity to see, where will you start from?

If you have a product that you have not created any opportunity for people to see, how will such product be in their scale of preference? I can tell you that if you have a good data calculation and ask questions around to find out from people how they got to know about a particular service or product; if the owners of that service or product deployed a lot of outdoor, I can assure you that you would be surprised and shocked that more percentage of the people got to know about it from outdoor platforms. If I will repeat myself, if you don’t get something on people’s scale of preference, how will that thing stand a chance? So, opportunity to see is number one. We used to call it a reminder medium, but it’s no longer a reminder because it’s inclusive of pure advertising and a reminder. It gives something to you, and then it reminds you because each time you pass it, it knocks you back and you remember.

When people say outdoor is a reminder medium I tell them that a reminder medium is a virtual medium because if I manage
to see an ad on TV without a constant reminder, it might pass and go. But outdoor is inclusive of all.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.