Africa is on the brink of a smartphone revolution with renewed mass market penetration into the African and South African market already underway thanks to a host of new entry level models from well-known brands like Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry and others as well as numerous ‘unknowns’ from China.
Against this backdrop the Starcom MediaVest Group’s digital division Liquid Thread, under the stewardship of strategist Eric Van Rookhuyzen, is championing the rise of digital in the local market.
The local market for smartphones is diversifying. Whereas before it was a purely high end segment there are now also distinct middle and entry level brands. This means the price of smartphones is definitely dropping, in fact they’re becoming so ubiquitous that consumers can now even buy them on their clothing account.
Another driver of smartphone uptake is the development of a data pricing war amongst most of the local mobile operators MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and 8.ta/Telkom mobile and with products like FNB Connect.
This coupled with the recent launch of the high speed LTE network will add to the user experience and given that research shows that use of these high speed networks leads to increased data usage, we can only expect smartphone usage to increase. Already 90% of South African Facebook users access the social networking site through their mobile phone in South Africa.
Mobile phones really are like the new ‘cigarettes’ of today’s time – they are with you everywhere, 24/7/365,” he says. “The key insights we’re focusing on from an advertising perspective, is the shift between mobile web/wap browsing vs app use. If we look at the way users decide on their new phone model i.e. Samsung, BlackBerry, Nokia or iPhone, we know that operating systems (IOS, Android or BBOS) play a key role in the purchasing decision process.
The availability of available apps also play a huge role and I believe this will play a massive part when media strategists plan for mobile elements. Other issues that media agencies face include: should campaigns be placed on publisher’s mobisites, or in the actual apps themselves.
What we do know about mobile browsing is that the availability of a reliable search function is a main user requirement, which also lends itself to the question, aside from general targeting considerations for media strategies, would we have to look at SEO rankings to ensure we reach the right audience on mobile browsing? But, more strategically the opportunity for brands to exercise the opportunity to ‘live’ on a consumer’s personal day to day device is very exciting.
Despite a number of new advertising agencies starting up, he believes that there is place for both in house and external digital agencies but adds that in house agencies lend themselves to more cohesive digital strategies from a media planning strategy point of view.
I often stress to our traditional media strategists and planners that they shouldn’t view digital as a separate discipline. The accurate detailed data that the digital aspects of a campaign produce is invaluable in helping shape future campaigns and leads to far more accurate allocation of future budgets.
This type of insight allows our clients to adjust budgets according to the data that we can provide, so digital definitely has a double function as a research tool – that truly is the beauty of it!