The upcoming ninth annual IAB Bookmark Awards for tech, digital and leading edge innovation will be held at the Galleria in Sandton on March 16th. The awards recognise excellence in digital and the powerful impact interactive has on the overall marketing mix. Bettina Moss reports.
Digital adspend in South Africa is showing significant growth and this year’s awards sees the introduction of 12 new categories. “We revisit our categories each year to ensure that they are fresh and relevant by workshopping “what works and why’ with a cross section of industry professionals,” says Josephine Buys, CEO of the IAB South Africa.
According to Buys there has been a considerable spike in Bookmarks 2017 entries this year, which is likely due to the introduction of the new categories.
“This proves that the digital landscape is growing as our agencies, publishers and brands embrace the medium. It’s no longer a 3rd party supplier network; it’s core in any integrated campaign and ever more increasingly, the leading medium for effective ad campaigns,” she said.
|Online Video Series||Non-branded online video content. Think Comedians in Cars getting Coffee.|
|Innovative use of Mobile Media||Mobile advertising that pushes the boundaries beyond the illegible banner ad. Think smart media that takes advantage of the mobile device.|
|Use of Programmatic Media||Use of new ways of buying and optimising media spend to achieve exceptional results for advertisers. Think advanced targeting, cost effective campaigns using platforms like Xaxis.|
|Chat, messaging and Dark Social||Use of chat, chat bots and messaging platforms (dark social) to achieve a marketing or communication result. Think Facebook Messenger.|
|Publisher apps||News or feature publishing apps intended to distribute information to a mass audience for non-brand purposes. Think Guardian app.|
|Online Photography||Use of online video by a publisher for news or editorial purposes. Think Daily Mail.|
|Online News Videos||Use of online video by a publisher for news or editorial purposes. Think CNN International.|
|Live Event Coverage||Online coverage by a publication of an event – winners will demonstrate excellence in live reporting and content production. Think the Oscar trial.|
|Streaming Services||Dedicated internet streaming service (video or audio). Think Netflix or CliffCentral.|
|Best CTO||Individual in a brand who most supports, encourages and succeeds using digital channels.|
|Best Contribution to Transformation in the Digital Industry||Organisation who has made the most convincing contribution to growing diversity in the digital industry in line with overall goals for an integrated South Africa. This could be through any meaningful mechanism ranging from ownership to participation.|
|Pixel for Purpose||Awarded to a piece of work (site, app, publication or any other digital piece) that made a significant positive social impact. The winner will have conclusively proven that the idea worked.|
In a constantly evolving digital landscape, innovation is a key competitive advantage. Buys says the Innovative use of Media category has attracted a lot of entries. Criteria include demonstrable innovation in digital media placement or buying. Winners must show real creativity in how unusual channels were used or conventional channels were used in news ways. “This category showcases some really exciting work, proving that brands are embracing digital to explore and deliver on innovation,” she says.
Looking at new trends coming through, social media campaigns are showing a strong following this year. “We have numerous entrants highlighting new and innovative ways to engage with their audiences which has become increasingly more important with today’s always on, multi-device carrying consumers,” says Buys.
MAC Sector Charter and the digital advertising industry
The MAC Sector Charter, established in April 2016, has increased the number of possible points available for industry participants, but has raised the minimum compliance targets for a number of categories, most notably ownership (the 2018 target is 45% black ownership). The charter is placing pressure on industry players to increase their level of black shareholding and investment, with increased focus on training and development, supplier development and preferential procurement. Buys believes the implications for the digital advertising industry are extremely positive for transformation in the sector.
“Businesses will need to plan more carefully, and look harder and further for black talent to employ and black outsourcers, freelancers and suppliers with which to engage. This might make compliance trickier in the short-to-medium term, but if businesses plan properly and embrace the need for transformation not only within their own operations, and put in place suitable initiatives, they will not only score well on their scorecards, they will also transform for their own commercial and competitive advantage, and enable the industry to transform – and better serve its clients and the broader South African audience – as a whole,” she says.
Although it is still early days, the charter has already started to bring benefits to the industry. “Already we have seen a number of empowerment transactions taking place, and an increase in the focus on training and development of black talent, and the development of small black-owned businesses servicing the industry. Time will ultimately tell, but we are confident that the MAC Sector Charter will play a critical role in ensuring far wider and more successful transformation of the industry,” says Buys.
The IAB is playing a critical role in transforming the industry. The IAB Transformation Council was launched in 2016. Recognising the importance of education in the role of transformation, it has merged with the Education Council to form the IAB Transformation and Education Council.
In addition to this, the IAB has appointed a part time resource, to drive some critical initiatives:
- Improved and ongoing collaboration with educational institutions
- To develop initiatives with legislative, industry and corporate bodies
Buys says a “further, greatly impactful development” will be launched at this year’s Digital Summit, which takes place ahead of the Bookmarks.
“We have engaged many colleagues and IAB members in the past year and look forward to formalising these initiatives with the appropriate industry partners in 2017 and beyond. We are encouraging said partners to deliver on a promise that transformation is taking place in the digital industry via recruitment, staff retention, career development and work environment by committing to evolving their company cultures to embrace the new wave of talent,” she says.
The IAB is focused on new and innovative approaches to attracting new talent, and has recognised the need to start at school level. “Several council meetings with key industry role players sharing thoughts and ideas have yielded unique approaches to attracting much needed talent into digital such as instilling an interest and a passion for our industry at a much earlier touchpoint than the colleges and varsities we have thus far been focusing on, starting at school level. In this process we have recognised that not only is there an opportunity to educate students that digital is an exciting and promising industry to choose, but so too, assuring the parents and care givers that this career path promises a lucrative future,” she says.
Trends and disruption
Buys believes the following trends are disrupting the digital advertising industry and are expected to continue in the near future:
“Fake news will continue to disrupt – I believe this is an opportunity for our publisher members to remind South Africa’s online consumers that their long standing authenticity can be trusted,” she says.
Growth of performance marketing teams and accountability for marketing ROI is the hot topic right now. Marketers are finding it harder to justify their marketing, especially brand spend without a clear attribution model for offline media. This is impacting the digital spend positively as the digital channels where everything is actionable and trackable with a clear attribution.
Search and social
South Africa is seeing a rise in search and social advertising with programmatic closely in the wings.
With the rise of video streaming more marketers and brands are also jumping on the video bandwagon. More companies and marketers are getting into production of content and finding ways to monetise it which includes ad supported models and sponsorships.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and the human touch
“Artificial intelligence is growing up as well as machine learning and data,” says Buys. “More and more businesses are realising that they still need a human touch to understand and interpret the data to make a meaningful contribution to their business strategy.”