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SA’s Biggest-Ever Digital Billboard Is Coming – And It’s Solar

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Epic Outdoor, a niche media company specialising in the development and marketing of large-format, high-impact static and digital Out Of Home (DOOH) platforms, has announced a new digital billboard site on the N1 highway. The property was specifically designed to accept advertising and at 400m2 the international-standard LED will be the largest roadside LED in South Africa, by far.

While the concept is similar to screens in London, New York and Dubai, those billboards target pedestrians predominantly. This is a massive roadside digital LED, on a bespoke building that has a run up of more than 800m. It will be impossible to miss.

The LED screen is able to cater for all modern OOH creative techniques, including deep motion and anamorphic 3D. Additionally, the screen can be segmented into smaller panels allowing for creative use of multiple simultaneous creative displays. This is great for campaigns where brand and product appear together or collaborative campaigns, for example a network provider and a cellular phone company.

All the traditional Out of Home (OOH) metrics are amplified by the combination of the size and positioning of this screen. “It all adds up to a site with incredible impact. The site ticks every single box, it’s unique in the South African context,” says Rene Hedley, Director of Epic Outdoor.

Impact, Hedley explains, is the measure of how quickly or likely the audience is to receive the campaign message. It can be created by relevance, timing, or in this instance by sheer scale of the advertising platform. It is inconceivable that anyone could ignore a screen of this size for the full duration of the 800m+ run up, particularly as this stretch of highway is notorious for routinely being highly congested. The dominance of the site creates the impact, thereby virtually guaranteeing higher campaign awareness.

The problems with the growth of OOH – and the solution

OOH (Out of Home) advertising in South Africa is growing at a rapid rate. Since early 2020 approximately 200 new screens have been installed in SA taking the number of roadside LED’s to just under 500, with most being installed in Gauteng.

In 2023 it is set to explode, says Hedley: “You only have to look at what’s happening locally, and the increased adoption in the West – to see how this medium will continue to grow, and grow at an increasing rate within SA.”

Whilst this growth is good for the industry, it raises issues that have up until recently not required attention.

  1. With so much competition how do you ensure that your advertising campaign is seen?
  2. The ever-increasing frequency of load-shedding, and the consequential impact of screen downtime.

Epic, with the unveiling of South Africa’s largest roadside digital billboard, will have neatly solved both problems at their new high-impact site.

To combat the audience dilution that loadshedding creates, the site will be powered by a large solar farm, installed on the property behind the screen, and providing over 95% of all the screens energy requirements.

This is the first billboard of its type in South Africa to be powered by sustainable energy sources. “The technology used is of the highest quality, and the board is able to operate very efficiently,” says Hedley.

The 830kw of power required per day will be supplied by 270 540-watt panels installed on the large field behind the property. The Solar and battery farm will supply 95% of all energy needs (the billboard can draw power from Eskom when required). 

Epic’s new site and its enormous screen lives up to the company’s brand name. It is truly epic.

The engineers’ drawings have been approved and construction has begun, says Hedley. Fabrication of the sub frame will take a month. In January, N1 motorists will see the face of the building being dismantled and replaced with the new subframe. Once the 40 tech panels have been installed, Epic will begin populating them. Switch-on is scheduled for 1 February 2023.

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