Since agencies use viewability as one of the main metrics to bill clients for their digital campaigns, it makes sense to ensure it is maximised.
That’s one of the views of media agency Mindshare SA’s interim CEO, Zia Namooya. “You want to make sure that viewability is your main currency, because that’s what we charge clients on. And then publishers charge us,” he explains.
Namooya, who has been in the role for 10 weeks now, is no stranger to the South African market, having worked with the country’s team for a year-and-a-half, observing and incorporating moves and digital trends taking place in global markets into the local space.
“I’ve been going to see current clients, prospective clients and past clients… It’s also been me picking up the challenges that keep CMOs awake at night, not just the sales figures, but other pillars that they’ve been tasked with. The narrative of their challenges have changed or grown,” he says.
A dedicated trading desk
Mindshare SA set up a trading desk with a fast food company to create infrastructure that called for more insights that would drive the transparency agenda.
“There’s not just understanding, but an appetite from a brand to not only understand buying efficiently, but also to gain consumer insights to optimise and personalise creative further,” Namooya explains.
Creating a handful of templates that trigger when parameters for customers come up, coupled with dynamic messaging, is the key. “Infrastructure powers an agency to tell a brand what is going on. It’s not post, it’s in the moment. Every other brand is fighting for your attention, so relevance is key,” he says.
But outstanding creative and creativity is worth nothing if consumers don’t see the advertising. The Mindshare SA system tracks whether individuals have seen the creative.
“Here, the South African industry has been very lax on viewability. We need to impose the strongest viewability metrics, but it’s a gradual process… We need to know whether the audience has seen the message. If the ad isn’t being seen, why should the client pay? And if it’s not seen, it has no value… We can do all this sophisticated targeting, yet we’re not maturing as a landscape in South Africa to ensure the ads that our clients pay for are being seen 100% by the consumer intended for them to be seen by,” Namooya stresses.
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Diminished publisher inventory
A major problem that arises when applying a stricter viewability metric (100% in some cases), is that the agencies supply of publisher inventory/stock diminishes. “You start to have handfuls, which leads to the client paying a lot more. Why should the client be paying more for their ad to be seen by the right people at 100%?,” questions Namooya.
“The norm in the US is viewable, traded metrics. Clients only pay digital media when, if it’s a video the completed view has happened and it’s 100%, and it was cost effective in terms of the price as well.
“We’re piloting that in South Africa. We’re not here to strip publisher relations. We want to work with them and we already are, and the idea is to gradually move towards that mind-set,” he says.
Mindshare SA is already in talks with the IAB SA and its publisher partners to work on improving the viewability metric in the country.
“It is an awful realisation that audiences are shrinking, but it’s one that we have to work as an industry to help. It’s an industry thing. Once we start doing this as an industry, we can show the publishers how it can work,” says Namooya.
“All we know is how other markets have done it and succeeded and now we want to replicate the same. South Africa is becoming incredibly sophisticated and mature in the online media space, why not protect that investment?”
Business consultancy and FAST
For the rest of the year, Namooya will ensure Mindshare SA is focusing on two aspects of the agency; business consultancy, and its FAST system.
“I see an appetite from CMOs and brand managers from efficiency elements towards business consultancy, which I am passionate about. It changes the story about just going in with media on top of your head,” explains Namooya.
Another priority area for him is FAST, Mindshare Global’s proposition, which is a mind-set which ties search, social and programmatic together optimally, rather than them operating in silos. Five pillars tie the three together; the operations, the strategy, the analytics, the activation, and the creative. Namooya is looking to ensure the FAST system is established, polished and where it will take Mindshare SA to the next level.
“As media agencies, our job is to protect clients’ investment, naturally make sure it goes further, try and innovate with the best solution possible, essentially with a publisher network in a market that understands that narrative as well,” he says.
Jack of all trades, master of none
Asked what he believes are the challenges facing South African agencies, Namooya responds that over-indexed agencies are an issue. These are agencies that practice certain disciplines trying to chase business in other areas that are not part of their core DNA.
“We see agencies over-index themselves to try and get what they can. I’m not adverse to complementary offerings that make sense, but some are losing their DNA. You ask ‘what do you stand for?’ or ‘what is your agency known for?’” he explains. “I’d rather Mindshare doesn’t do everything, but does three or four things well at scale, and they’re innovative in their own right in terms of advancing digital media investment,” he adds.
Trends in SA agency landscape
Namooya identifies two trends that are taking place in South African agencies:
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog Publishers. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8