South Africa’s digital commerce and advertising market has reached a critical mass over the past two years, and now presents an irresistible opportunity for marketers at companies of all descriptions.
The most recent numbers (May 2011) from the DMMA show that South Africa now has more than 10,3 million web browsers producing more than 377 million page views per month. This is an increase of 17.8% in unique browsers and 32.8% in page views over April’s figures. The numbers encompass mobile and PC/laptop internet users alike.
Even allowing for some overlap of users with mobile, home and office internet access, this is a significant and fast-growing market. It encompasses a high proportion of the country’s economically active population, meaning that many of your customers are now using the traditional and mobile web to read news, shop and interact with their friends.
The rapid growth in user numbers is, however, just part of the story. It’s not just that you can find your customers online but also that they are spending more time online and using the web to do more things than ever before.
Bandwidth prices have tumbled since the arrival of the Seacom cable, with high-cap and uncapped internet offerings at more affordable prices. That means consumers are now ready to engage with richer content than they were before and are able to spend more time online. For the marketer that means there is wealth of opportunities in the digital space. The humble banner is still the stalwart of digital advertising and has matured into a reliable performer.
There are also many new ways to use digital to engage with consumers in especially meaningful ways, from rich media to behavioural targeting. And with mobile marketing, there is a whole new world to explore with potential that goes far beyond the SMS.
It is now viable to incorporate more rich media (including video and Flash animation) into your banner ads and make them more engaging and interactive to capture your audience’s attention.
And there are a number of ways to segment and target your audience to make sure you reach the people you want to and waste less of your budget speaking to people who are already customers or who are not interested in what you’re selling.
Behavioural targeting, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular tool for savvy South African marketers. It is a form of targeted digital advertising that uses information collected about a user’s web-browsing behaviour (for example pages visited or searches conducted) to choose advertisements to display to him or her.
If you’re a car dealership, you might want to serve an ad about a special deal on a BMW to someone who is reading reviews of luxury cars. You can combine behavioural data with the ability to serve ads to users in a certain country, region or even city and demographic targeting to achieve the best results with the maximum efficiency.
Another benefit of digital media is that it is measurable and accountable. You can trace how a user interacts with your brand from the moment that he or she clicks on an ad, until the moment you add the consumer to your email database or conclude a sale.
You can track a range of metrics with relative ease – from how a campaign is delivering against its objectives, to what day of the week the highest click-through rate occurred; from which creative execution was the most successful, to what time of the day is best to display your campaigns to consumers. This is all valuable info you can use to optimise your marketing campaigns and improve your sales.
Since 2008, we have seen more and more companies turn to digital channels with great success. The sheer number of South Africans on the Internet means that it’s not a channel any company can afford to ignore any more. And since it is measurable, flexible and cost-effective, it is an ideal channel to use to stretch your marketing budget further in an uncertain market.