Saudi focus: Beyond billboards, by Bassmat’s Abdulrahman Saud

OOH in Saudi is more than megacoms and unipoles, writes Bassmat’s Abdulrahman Saud.

The impact of out-of-home (OOH) marketing on the Saudi market today is considered phenomenal, and we are seeing significant, continued growth in this area of the business.

With the aim of raising awareness of their brands and products, various advertisers are setting foot in this field and are using brand new ways to captivate their target audience. Today it’s not enough to only be on the small screen; it is more important than ever to have your message exist everywhere. In this day and age that means producing 360-degree campaigns, which include having a presence ‘IRL’ – in real life – as well.

An important point to note is that OOH creative has been evolving ever since it first started, and continues to adapt new creative techniques, which makes it a perfect choice for the government initiatives and tech food delivery companies, fintech and other categories.

From my own perspective, the Saudi market is one of the key players in OOH marketing, since there are still many unused mediums, such as public transport advertising in trains, Riyadh underground metro stations and new airports. One more unused gem is the ability to reach youth and families in the new Riyadh gathering spots such as Boulevard, UWalk and Riyadh Front, in addition to Jeddah’s outdoor malls and corniche, and new cities such as Neom, the Red Sea Project and Al Qiddiya. This kind of medium will enrich advertisement diversity in terms of the ability to target the right audiences, whether broadly or as a niche.

However, there has been a bump in the road for the makers and pioneers of media suppliers up until today, which is measuring the views and the impact of the ad. Nevertheless, there is promising potential with the rapid development of technologies that assist in measuring audience activity, improving views reports and monitoring interest.

In alignment with the kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the Saudi market has the opportunity to develop this aspect of marketing by keeping pace with the latest technologies and installing them in new locations. This means replacing the billboards that rely on printing with digital ones in order to contribute to preserving the environment. This will lead the current industry to become a thriving media sector that is in harmony with the civil component of cities and society, blending in organically, and being more environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing to the audience.

Two important factors will pave the way to the success of an outdoor advertising campaign. Previously you would have to identify the right creative agency to produce the relevant content, then look for the media-buying house; however, if you can have a one-stop-shop with both services then you will ensure that the right message is being advertised in the right medium, platform or format, which will ensure a better impact. Choosing the two factors cautiously will lead to campaign success, since they will result in building creative content that suits the movement on roads, and choosing the appropriate size and network of spread for geographical coverage.

To conclude, we have to understand media values that will feed the brand to the right audience. I advise all marketers around the region to evolve and consider the strength and potential of OOH marketing, and to explore new and creative ways to deliver a clear message with a big impact. Understanding the potential of OOH will help unleash marketers’ minds to shape the future for this medium. After all, we are the creators of the future.