Word has it there is a surge of media companies spreading into other parts of Africa, but just how easy is it for media agencies working up north?
The benefits of planning and booking media in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria include that these countries have in-depth research with crucial information on radio and TV diaries that many other African countries don’t have. Advertisers and agencies demand correct and measureable media planning that is synonymous with deliverable key performance indicators, which the available research lends itself to.
Unfortunately, in most African countries only very basic research is available and while it’s easier to get the necessary reach, most advertisers remain unsatisfied because there are no Gross Rating Points (GRPs) to evaluate whether planners are over- or under-spending.
It’s understandable that clients who need to penetrate the African market are ill at ease because there are no concrete units of measurement or basic information from which to launch their campaigns. Furthermore, the lack of deliverables means that clients need to trust what their agencies are doing.
It’s also crucial for South African- and African-based media agencies to have the right partners in each particular market who understand their immediate surroundings and that particular country’s make-up of people.
For instance, media agencies must be familiar with local consumers’ lifestyles, hopes and dreams, where and how they shop and their media consumption patterns. Trying to launch a pharmaceutical brand will need a heavily weighted campaign on above-the-line media, otherwise they will not break through in a market where people rely on traditional healing and self-purging.
But without paying high costs for research we can’t know the level of insight that we need across the continent. It’s a case of removing numbers from the equation, while the ideal situation would be for planners to know their ‘customers’ or a country’s consumers almost on a one-on-one basis.
Africa’s media hotspots
In my opinion, Kenya, which has the highest penetration of modern retail channels, is the most ‘up and coming’ country with potential for great media agencies provided it attracts the right talent. In terms of media spend, I predict that Nigeria will overtake South Africa as soon as early 2014. Their outstanding growth in media spend can be attributed to the country’s population explosion (currently around 150 million people) and an overwhelming number of media choices available (10 times more television channels than South Africa). When we look at GDP growth rates, Ethiopia boasts an impressive 12.4% with South Africa weighing in at just 2.8%.
The numbers for broadband download performance are even worse. South Africa has an average download speed of 2.95 Megabytes per second (MBPS) whereas Rwanda boasts 3.29 MBPS! Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to be done in our own backyard before we get too critical of our African counterparts.
The scenario in most African countries is that most advertisers have brand managers on the ground who don’t have access to the rich information they need to brief their agencies accordingly. As a result these brand managers tend to choose media that they personally consume for lack of a better understanding. Despite the lack of research and resources, the international parent companies of these brands still rely on and demand breakthrough on their campaigns.
To round off, South Africa in some aspects is ahead of many of our neighbouring African countries, but not in others. When it comes to foreign investment, South Africa is in the top three with $5.6 billion in investment, preceded by Egypt with $6.7 billion and Nigeria with $5.8 billion.
For me, Africa is a hot pot of opportunity. With over one billion consumers, and an enormous youth-based population, the sky really is the limit. Africa as a continent has an expected GDP growth rate of 5% and above, and that’s not too shabby considering the huge markets available that just need help developing their businesses and brands. And believe me, African consumers are definitely hungry for quality brands and services. n
Celia Collins is the deputy group managing director of the Starcom MediaVest Group.