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Out-of-Home industry takes decision not to sack staff over Covid-19

Operators in Nigeria’s Out-of-Home advertising industry have taken a deep and thoughtful consideration not to downsize their workforce over the biting effects of Covid-19.

This compassionate action, even when business is slow, is a big relief for most of the workers and their families who are going through excruciating times.

However, many of the workers are placed on half salaries which the President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, OAAN, Emma Ajufo said it is better than throwing the workers in to the labour market especially this difficult economic time. Nigeria’s unemployment rate is about 23.1 percent of the population and there are speculations that this will worsen to 33.5 percent.

The outdoor industry will however rely on skeletal businesses and savings over time to keep their staff.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the outdoor industry, alongside other industries such as hotel business, transportation including airlines, education and event business has suffered from slower or non-existent business.

“Our clients who rely on eye-balls to place advert materials had to cancel exposures and contracts due to the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19”, Ajufo told BusinessDay. He however said that business is returning gradually.

The OAAN president said the industry which has lost multi-million Naira businesses since the lockdown needs palliative to cushion the effects and keep the industry going. This can come in terms of relaxation of some regulations and fees, and soft loans from CBN.

But at a recent online conference by the outdoor body, Adedamola Docemo, Managing Director of LASAA, the Outdoor regulatory body, advised that the focus now should be on creativity rather than rate reduction or palliatives . He stated that the issue of palliatives would be treated holistically with the support of Lagos State Government but that it would be difficult to make a case now, since the pandemic and lockdown is ongoing. He highlighted several parley with OAAN as proof of his commitment to partnership and growing the industry.

At the online conference, Lere Alimi, Managing Director of Meridian Concept called for investment in data to give granular details of new routes and destinations visited by target audiences. He said high regulatory cost needs to be addressed and said that the suggested pursuit of CBN palliative for OOH should be more vigorous and called on the industry to explore mergers & acquisitions, diversification.

Executive Director at WIMN, representative of OMNICOM Media Group in West and Central Africa adviced OAAN to key into MIPAN’s/other Sectoral groups current initiative to upgrade on audience measurement.

The industry was also advised to think deeply, innovate on new ways to make advertising compelling as advertisers would always go where their audience is captured. “OOH should provide relevant empirical data to justify using OOH”.

It was revealed by Geopoll-survey that OOH is more effective than online and TV, however, there is a strong challenge coming from online since it is good at encouraging engagement and interaction hence there is the importance for OOH to engage with online and drive interaction.

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