By David Jenkin

The four founding members of OMC, JCDecaux, Primedia Outdoor, Outdoor Network and Ad Outpost, were joined by OOH stakeholders for a breakfast function at the Johannesburg Country Club on Monday, 23 May, for the announcement that would almost certainly change the local industry for the better. In the words of Neil Eddleston, managing director of marketing research at JCDecaux, OOH is now set to increase its share of the pie, and “compete with other media on an equal footing". 

At the heart of OMC is a software system called Quantum, developed by the Spanish company Cuende Infometrics, and optimised to operate with OMC’s data. Co-founder Daniel Cuende explained in his keynote address that they had always been focused on OOH but gathering data was complex, expensive, slow and limited. They achieved a breakthrough with satellite technology, using multi-spectral analysis. The satellite data provides real-time information on patterns of movement in enormous detail.

This information is fed into Quantum’s system along with research data that, in South Africa’s case, was conducted by Ask Afrika and overseen by Kuper Research. Ask Afrika conducted a year-long survey with a random sample of over 15 000 adults, research that will be conducted annually going forward with a larger sample group. The questionnaire participants receive is primarily concerned with commuting routes, times and distances, and the types of transport used.

Jos Kuper, founder of Kuper Research, said they had faced challenges unique to South Africa when conducting this survey, as South Africans are hugely safety conscious and were therefore reluctant to divulge information about their daily movements. There is also often a lack of street names and numbers, and taxi commuters using multiple routes added further complexity.

The data from the surveys provides the system with information on audience demographics. “This all goes together to achieve the goal of understanding how people move in their cities,” said Cuende. However, he emphasised that traffic does not equal ad contact. The Quantum software factors in ‘zones of visibility’, which is calculated with an algorithm, factoring the size of the ad, obstructions, orientation, even points of interest in the area. He added that the system is not restricted to billboards, as anything with a location, size and orientation can be measured.

Many in the audience were visibly impressed by the functionality offered by Quantum after watching a brief demonstration. The software is able to pinpoint locations with the greatest traffic for specific target markets, allowing for optimisation. Essentially, it provides a measurement of OOH on the same metrics used by other media such as television, radio and digital – meaning that media planning can be far more effective than ever before.

“Finally, OOH can demonstrate how efficient it is,” said Cuende.

The software is not programmatic, however it may expand to incorporate that functionality in time. Cuende said that there will be ongoing refinements to improve the accuracy of the system as there are many remaining unknowns, and for that reason media owners still need to be careful. He concluded that as media stakeholders buy into OMC, it will continue to evolve.

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