The effectiveness of online media makes it one of the best advertising options for South African companies looking to expand into other parts of sub Saharan Africa. It is a platform that is simple to manage, and which has growing reach into the continent.
That’s according to Marcus Stephens, general manager at Howzit MSN, one of the largest Web properties in South Africa. Stephens, who has worked in East and West Africa for a number of years, says that one of the major challenges South African marketers face as they try to take their brands into other sub Saharan African countries, is a media landscape that is highly fragmented and complex.
Unless they are able to spend time in each country monitoring placements in print, broadcasting and outdoor media themselves, they may in many cases find that they do not get what they have paid for, says Stephens. “The media world in countries like Kenya and Nigeria can seem like a jungle to the uninitiated,” Stephens says. “The controls and reporting information that advertisers are used to from South African media, are simply not there in many parts of the continent.”
He says reasons for this include weak administration systems and a lack of technical capacity at many African media companies, especially broadcasters. Outdoor media has also been known to pose challenges for advertisers who are not familiar with the market.
Stephens says that although outdoor, print and broadcast advertising offer deep reach into Africa, many advertisers have overlooked the runaway growth of the digital market over the past few years. The number of Internet subscribers across Africa has grown dramatically over the past three years, due to the amount of time Internet subscribers spend online.
Today, there are 46 million Internet users in Nigeria and 10 million in Kenya – numbers that are growing all the time – and growing pools of Internet subscribers in Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia and many other countries. These subscribers are overlapping with the emerging consumer class that many South African brands are eager to address with their products, says Stephens.
“We have been surprised by the level of growth we have enjoyed since we launched a dedicated African channel on Howzit MSN,” says Stephens. “Since the beginning of the year, there has been large scale adoption on the site.”
Stephens says that online advertising provides clear data about ads that are served, so that advertisers can be sure that they receive what they are paying for – an engaged, active and quantifiable audience made up of the people in their target markets.