Entries for The Bookmarks, an award to benchmark the best in creative digital media, opened on September 1 at http://www.thebookmarks.co.za.
Hewlett says the awards will compare local online work to that of the rest of the globe. “We are launching our own awards to reward creativity in the online space, which will be on the same level as international awards. We already have Fernando Romano (executive creative director for JWT London) on our judging panel, so work will be judged in an international framework.”
Categories for The Bookmarks include: Best Site, Best Microsite, Best Online Advertising, Best Media Plan, Best Execution of Mobile Advertising, and an individual award for the Greatest Contribution to Online Media.
Hewlett says that the appetite for online presence has increased. “Earlier this year we anticipated that online adspend would reach R300-million, now it looks as if we will reach R350-million.
I think this appetite will continue to grow and we will reach R500-million by next year.”
He adds that it is important not to consider the number of online users there are in South Africa, but the ad revenue they bring in.
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe there are some 4.6-million tax payers in South Africa, 5.6-million internet users and R3oo-million adspend. This is interesting considering that in Finland there are 3.1-million browsers and US$361-million is spent on adspend per year, so there is still plenty of room for growth in South Africa.
Hewlett says better and speedier internet connections and advancement in online applications will contribute to the increase in adspend. “The OPA also needs to drive online to ad agencies and media buyers.”
The OPA celebrated its fifth birthday this year and Hewlett says that the association has made a few changes to its constitution. “Over the last four years the constitution did not allow smaller companies to join the organisation as fees were too high. This year we have opened up the OPA to make it more accessible.”
The association is now open to media owners, ad agencies and media planners and prices have been dropped to make it more affordable. It will cost between R5,000 and R20,000 to be a member of the OPA. This sliding scale depends on the turnover, revenue and number of unique users the member has.
Hewlett concludes that it has not been easy over the past three years. “Online has really struggled in the past, but now we have new blood. I think all the factors have come together and online is currently at a tipping point.”