Primedia Outdoor, the largest wholly South African owned premier out-of-home media provider in sub-Saharan Africa, is celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout the month of July, and on this notable milestone looks back on the evolution of the company and the accomplishments over the last 25 years.
Formerly known as Primedia Ad Displays, Primedia Outdoor was established in 1994 as an outdoor advertising company focusing on the marketing and sales of outdoor advertising signage for effective media placement solutions in the outdoor environment. Primedia Ad Displays bought a number of outdoor companies to become the biggest contender in the outdoor industry. The company was originally headquartered in Cape Town, and moved to the present headquarters in Constantia Kloof, Johannesburg in 1998 when current CEO Dave Roberts joined Primedia Outdoor as Finance Executive for Primedia Outdoor.
During these years the outdoor industry saw a complete shift in regulation and control. Prior to 1998 billboards were only permissible on municipal property, you would never find a large format billboard like we see today on the N1 Highway. Third party advertising was prohibited on national roads in South Africa which led to the formation of The South African Manual for Outdoor Advertising Control (SAMOAC). SAMOAC ensures that authorities and organs of state are equipped with the guidelines to ensure control of areas pertaining to traffic safety; protection of the natural environment and commercial interest. Outdoor companies have to this day used this manual and the governing authorities utilise it to refine and amend their own bylaws across all provinces. Vlok Delport, has been with Primedia Outdoor since 2000 as the Projects and Legal Administration Manager and is undoubtably a wealth of wisdom on the bylaws and regulations of outdoor advertising in South Africa, he is an asset to Primedia Outdoor having been in the industry for over 30 years. Vlok has been remarkable in monitoring the adherence of bylaws and local government regulations to determine areas of control and ideal placements of billboards across South Africa.
The late 1990’s to the early 2000’s saw Primedia Outdoor grow from strength to strength with further acquisitions and new builds across the country. It was during this time that the 3mx6m rotational billboard known as Primelites became a formidable product in the industry. Primedia Outdoor ensured it secured the best locations in Johannesburg and Pretoria, and then later in Cape Town. Now retired, Piet Daniel started as the development executive and was later promoted to national development manager who was an integral part of Primedia Outdoor for 17 years and was then contracted for a further three years, states that, “I still come across billboards that I was involved with in one way or another wherever I drive in our beautiful country. Once I made the decision to finally retire, I took with me great memories of the other people that were involved and are still part of the team growing and cementing the Primedia Outdoor legacy."
Primedia Outdoor’s large format township holding, known today as Mass Impact, created a stir in the market. Our development team secured rights across all major areas of South Africa, allowing the company to build a colossal holding of 6mx4m and 9mx6m structures throughout the country ensuring brands were big and bold, creating impact in the townships and rural areas of South Africa. Johan Erasmus, who worked for Primedia Outdoor between 1994-2015 as operations executive, now retired, was the man who chose “Primedia Blue” paint for all our structures across the country. And to this day, our standing operations executive, Ravi Naicker, uses “Primedia Blue” to ensure our billboards are always maintained to the highest standard and quality.
Primedia Outdoor had, from 1994, developed an in-house inventory management system known today as the Primedia Inventory Management System (PIMS). The original program available at the time consisted only of a list of site numbers with their corresponding addresses. All other functions were done manually. Over time the first version of PIMS 1 was established, where client invoicing could be raised from the program and supplied to clients from PIMS and exported to electronically for debtors collection. The site rental program was also integrated whereby site rental accruals and remittances could be raised directly from PIMS. With the development of PIMS 2 major enhancements occurred on the program to the extent that all reporting, presentations and managing of all inventory as well as asset registers can be done directly from PIMS due to the inter-departmental programming of PIMS 2. Barbara Landman, who recently retired as the business information centre manager of Primedia Outdoor - with 43 years’ experience in the advertising industry, has been exceptional with the development of PIMS from day one. Barbara and the current information technology executive, Barry Van Zyl have been true captains of ensuring one source of accurate and detailed information for the entire company and its stakeholders. Today, Primedia Outdoor has a total of 6,382 structures to sell – this constitutes a total of 23,140 advertising panels and digital slots, all captured in PIMS.
2010 onwards saw Primedia Outdoor beginning to take form as a leading out-of-home media provider in South Africa. Dave Roberts was named CEO in 2012 and since then has led unsurpassed business growth and stakeholder value. In 2013, ComutaNet was officially consolidated into the outdoor business which brought about a whole new basket of offerings. With intelligence and research, Primedia Outdoor were able to understand the dynamics of the commuter market through WiFi measurement and qualitative research. Donovan Francis, who has been part of the team at Primedia for 25 years as a quality controller for operations, says his biggest highlight working for the company was “connecting the WiFi units to our structures in the taxi ranks to count the number of commuters within the ranks” as it was a leap forward in research for this market. Bhamuza, a product built out of market insights and intelligence in the previously known bottom-of-the-pyramid market, was completed in 2015 with 68 cantilever gantries erected in the densely populated towns of South Africa, created further dominance in the outdoor industry for the company.
A big milestone for Primedia Outdoor was the consolidation of the rest of Africa businesses into the company in 2016. Today, Primedia Outdoor continues to be at the forefront of delivering engaging and memorable out-of-home campaigns across nine distinct African markets: Nigeria, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. The consolidation of the Primall division of Primedia (PTY) Ltd in 2018, escalated Primedia Outdoor’s position in the out-of-home industry into the mall environments. Primedia Outdoor has just installed passive WiFi units into its malls to ensure accurate measurement and movement of shoppers across the markets. Here, unique reach and frequency of shoppers will be established, allowing for accurate measurement in the mall environment. With over 50 malls in the holding, and across different markets - Primedia Outdoor has been able to complete the consumer journey, from home to store.
In June 2008, Primedia Outdoor took digitisation of billboards by the horns and developed the first large format roadside digital billboards in South Africa. The Urban LED network started with only five sites in and around Sandton. In 2013, Primedia Outdoor launched the first large format highway LED in South Africa on the N1 Highway - today Primedia Outdoor has seven 4.5mx18m digital billboards along the busiest highways in South Africa. Spectrum, the Primedia company that was responsible for the technology and operations of the LEDs was consolidated into Primedia Outdoor in 2017. The Township LED network has recently been developed further into five locations across South Africa. This year saw the launch of the largest airport roadside LED in South Africa which was installed at King Shaka International Airport in Durban. In total, Primedia Outdoor has over 1000 sqm of digital roadside display. The powerful Rank TV digital product in the taxi ranks also continues to grow from strength to strength ensuring Primedia Outdoor delivers the best digitised offerings to clients and the public across all the diverse markets in South Africa.
A level 1 BBEEE company, Primedia Outdoor believes in their employees and always gives them the best opportunities, as it is the people and their talent that shapes the future of Primedia Outdoor. Primedia Outdoor and its employees live and are led by eight values that constitute how people are treated and how business is conducted as a whole. These values drive innovative and results-driven media platforms and business solutions. Primedia Outdoor is known to invest in its people in way of study assistance; training courses; skills workshops and wellness days. Primedia Outdoor is active in internship programs and learnerships on a yearly basis. The 25 years of Primedia Outdoor’s journey has been the time of intense commitment, positive initiatives and exciting projects, all of which was accomplished together with highly-valued talent.
One of the many employees who have been with Primedia Outdoor for over two decades is Brenda Ndlovu, who has gained a wealth of experience by taking on roles in reception, finance, business information centre and is currently a member of our production team as the senior production co-ordinator. “Primedia Outdoor has become my second family, it has opened doors for me that I have never thought were possible," she said. Brenda is highly regarded by the team and clients - always going the extra mile making sure that posters are printed and dispatched for flighting as a matter of urgency. Supported by Primedia Outdoor, Brenda is one of the many staff members to get an opportunity to upskill their talents over the years, attending numerous training courses and workshops.
In 2003 Primedia Outdoor empowered operational staff working at the company to establish eight dedicated teams and independent contractors across the country to manage operational processes in the different regions. They were assisted in starting their own companies and entered into service agreements with Primedia Outdoor. Today Primedia Outdoor continues to work together with these independent contractors to deliver outstanding service to all stakeholders and ensure our structures are always maintained to high standards.
Talent has played a major role with the digitisation of Primedia Outdoor’s inventory over the years. Primedia Outdoor values the global affiliations it has with Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and World Out-of-Home Organisation (WOO) formerly known as FEPE ensuring that we are on top of global trends, innovation and best practices. With the powerful use of technological innovations and exceptional locations across all markets, Primedia Outdoor is positioned as a dynamic Digital Out-of-Home expert after being nominated in the Top 3 in the world for an international technology innovation award from the World Out-of-Home Organisation in 2019. Primedia Outdoor delivers intelligent, targeted and seamless offerings going so far as to integrate out-of-home, with radio and social media renewing/establishing a new connectedness by creating interactive and engaging multi-channel campaign. Environmental triggers on all digital formats bring weather-based context to your message. Live feeds keep consumers in the know when they are on the go. Demographic triggered advertising in Malls ensures direct placement of campaigns to the intended audience. It is paramount to Primedia Outdoor and its talent stays on top of global digitisation, to ensure we remain a formidable contender in the media and communication industry.
For 25 years, Primedia Outdoor has had the privilege of working closely with brands and clients, media agencies, local municipalities, as well as landlords, who have collectively contributed to the success of the company. The Primedia Outdoor team wishes to express gratitude to all the valued clients and stakeholders, for trusting the company to be the out-of-home media provider of choice, delivering on high-impact locations and innovative media and advertising solutions. Dave Roberts further expressed his appreciation, “Primedia Outdoor wishes to say 'thank you' to everyone involved in making our business a successful out-of-home media company. We look forward to continued collaboration and shared successes in the future."
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About Primedia Outdoor
Primedia Outdoor is the premier provider of out of home media solutions within Sub Saharan Africa. A Level 1 BBEEE contributor, Primedia Outdoor is currently the largest wholly South-African-owned outdoor advertising media specialist offering national outdoor exposure throughout South Africa and high reach in key markets in rest of Africa. Primedia Outdoor offers flexible coverage of the entire LSM/SEM spectrum, targeting cosmopolitan consumers in major urban areas through to those living in rural communities.
Primedia Outdoor delivers exposure across a mix of media opportunities and audience environments, including high-end digital signs, airport advertising, freeway and suburban spectaculars and street furniture, as well as static advertising and digital screens in malls. Since 2018, the Primedia Unlimited Malls business unit has been integrated into the Primedia Outdoor stable. With the integration, Primedia Outdoor’s total media offering makes major retail and brand platforms accessible to advertisers, offering media solutions that integrate shopper connections during the path to purchase journey.