Digital OOH in the Age of Loadshedding

Published by Lucia Rabali


14 June 2023


I am not a Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) media expert, but it does not take an expert to realise the detrimental impact that loadshedding has on this medium.

While loadshedding affects various sectors, its impact on DOOH advertising is particularly noticeable. In this digital age, with businesses relying on technology to effectively reach their audiences, the unreliable supply of electricity poses challenges and threatens the growth of this medium.

Digital Out-of-Home has been on the up for the last couple of years, with many static boards being converted to digital boards. The N1 North/South, for example, which was once riddled with static boards, now has several digital boards. According to Outdoor Auditors, the DOOH medium has seen a 10% growth over the past few months, which goes to show just how the DOOH landscape is growing.

Credit: https://dooh.co.za/is-your-billboard-full-of-ants/

With the above in mind, it is wise for this industry to say goodbye to static billboards and say hello to digital billboards.

Loadshedding disrupts advertising campaigns. Not only DOOH campaigns, but also TV, Radio are also impacted. Outages can sometimes occur without warning, meaning adverts may fail to air during prime-time slots, thus impacting the reach and effectiveness of campaigns. Digital screens rely heavily on electricity for illumination and display, and during loadshedding, DOOH becomes ineffective. This leads to limited brand visibility. This, in essence, undermines the overall value and credibility of DOOH as an advertising medium, and ultimately impacts advertisers’ return on investment.

According to Neuro-Insight, advertising seen on DOOH assets delivers 63% more impact than classic billboards.

Kantar Group’s new global study which explores consumer perceptions on DOOH, found that consumers don’t just welcome DOOH in their environments, they also find it innovative and informative:

66% say that it encourages them to search online. 50% say DOOH ads are more memorable and are encouraged to make a purchase there-and-then. 53% say DOOH gave them all the information they needed to make a purchase. 50% say that DOOH connects with their social platforms, and DOOH is considered 50% more memorable than social media.

Loadshedding potentially puts financial pressure on DOOH media owners. Constant power surges are bound to cause technical glitches and damage digital screens, which will surely require costly repairs and maintenance. There is also the added pressure of coming up with creative ways to ensure the screens stay on even during loadshedding, such as the use of UPS and generators as back-up power sources? Like I said, I am not an expert, but what I do know is that this would mean diverting budgets that would otherwise be reserved for innovation and expansion, towards repairs and maintenance.

DOOH advertising spend, according to Outdoor Auditors, has been predicted to contribute to about 40% of the overall OOH spend in the coming years, but with the current electricity challenges being faced and advertisers growing weary of the medium, will this prediction become a reality?

Credit: https://dooh.co.za/is-your-billboard-full-of-ants/

In an ideal world, the government and the power utility companies would prioritize stable electricity supply to support and propel the growth of DOOH advertising and nurture a conducive environment for businesses, but only in an ideal world, which for now is only but a dream for South Africans.