An emerging online market

Advertising in Africa - retaining broadcast’s share of the pie (July 2016) is a report published by Balancing Act, that provides a health check of the advertising industry on the continent.

Among the things identified by the report, it notes a “rush of global advertising agencies to many countries across Africa over the past five years”, also citing equity investments and acquisitions in African communications groups. The report further states that African consumers are young and willing to spend; 53% of income earners in Africa are between 16 and 34 years old – an age associated with increasing online presence and growth.

It has become common practice that digital media publishers generate revenue through online advertisements. However, this approach has been threatened globally as consumers started using ad-blocking software. But according to this article by Fin24, “research has shown that in contrast to the rest of the world, many African users do not view ads in a negative light, which may offer a unique opportunity to online advertisers on the continent”. It is crucial to remember that mobile phones are becoming advertising channels as well, and operators are generating revenue from this channel.

A very social culture

Thanks to Africa’s growing online presence, advertising money is increasingly spent on digital advertising and social media content, making it the key role-player of many online start-up business models.

According to this article by Memeburn, social networking is Africa’s most important online activity, with 58% of Sub-Saharan Africans saying it trumps all other online activities. It’s no secret, then, that social media holds countless marketing potential in Africa.

But the African market is fundamentally different to that of the rest of the world. You’ll have to leverage any market research you can get your hands on and truly think outside the box without hypothesizing too much. Realising details like knowing the difference between Feature phones and Smartphones could mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign or a failed one.

Africa is not like the others

As stated by VOA news, Africa’s emerging markets are unchartered territory for some multinational corporations bewildered by the nuances of the continent. Combined with a dearth of marketing data, on-the-ground expertise is a keenly sought commodity.

The article further quotes Fraser Lamb, chief executive officer and Africa chairman of McCann Worldgroup, as saying “poorly informed advertising campaigns can be costly. A MasterCard campaign designed for Africa but developed in Dubai did not translate. The campaign was a disconnect from the reality. For instance, in our truth about Africa, we talked about countries that actually have safari versus the perceived number of countries. The artwork that came from abroad was largely about safari and we said, ‘If this is for Kenya, it works; whereas in Nigeria - it’s [safari] scarce.’ It was a campaign that had to be adapted,” Lamb said.

What’s happening in the South?

In South Africa, however, things are not looking as peachy compared to the rest of Africa. The effect of our decreasing per capita GDP growth, inequality rates and recent recession during the second quarter of 2018, has resulted in us falling behind on the African continent.

In a nutshell, we are still in for some tough times ahead – clients and agencies alike.

Tight budgets and profit margins will have a significant impact on the advertising industry.

In order to survive, agencies will have to become more flexible and creative in the way they communicate with consumers. In the past, big brands were handed to big agencies. This is no longer the case. The big dogs are now competing with smaller agencies that are able to deliver quality work at much quicker rates. It might not do any harm to look to the rest of Africa for inspiration on how to overcome difficulty.

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