In January this year, the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) rebranded as the Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa – the IAB SA.
The IAB is a publisher-led organisation that was founded in the United States in 1996. Its goals were to promote standards in digital media and to drive the digital agenda. It has since spread to 42 countries and has helped digital become a $100-billion global industry.
Its local launch is significant because it plugs our online publishing industry into a global community of similar interests, facing similar challenges and opportunities. In addition, the IAB in South Africa also represents digital agencies, brands and educational institutions, giving us a unique opportunity to nurture the industry.
Here are the top five things we are busy with at the moment, things we believe will have a major impact on the industry. This is not an exhaustive list – we are fortunate to have a deeply engaged steering committee that makes significant contributions to the organisation and industry.
For the past 11 years, the DMMA has existed as a volunteer-managed body. The ‘spare time’ of many industry luminaries, like JP Farinha, Matthew Buckland, Nikki Cockcroft, Russell Hanley and Geoff Cohen, has built the organisation to where it is today. This has imposed necessary limits on how much could be done, which brings me to the first major activity.
Professionalising the IAB
Late last year I got permission from the board to appoint a full-time manager for the organisation. In addition, we have just appointed Josephine Buys as country manager. She has a publishing background and is ideally placed to lead the IAB SA through its next evolution.
There is an enormous amount of work to be done in winning for digital in South Africa. Doing this part-time has always been a disadvantage relative to other media bodies with full-time staff.
Globally the IABs all have significant numbers of professional staff, with as many as 60 in the US. We have a way to go before we’re playing in those leagues, but this is a crucial first step.
PwC ad spend study
Better data, it could be argued, is one of the greatest contributions to industry growth. Almost since its inception in the US, the IAB has released digital ad spend numbers.
Working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and other auditing partners, IABs in 14 countries release similar figures, giving advertisers, media owners and agencies a clear picture of how much is being spent on digital and in what channels. With global benchmarks at hand, this easily allows the market to see whether it is under-spending and under-utilising digital.
The IAB SA has just launched a local version of this study. With a little luck, and the participation of our major publishers, we will be able to release true digital ad spend numbers in the local market.
IAB industry summit and Bookmarks 7
We recently announced that we are shifting the Bookmark Awards from the end of year into the first quarter of the new one. The main reason is because we are transforming the event into an industry summit topped off by an awards show.
Uniting the industry to win silverware and party is galvanising and exciting, but there is also important work to be done. We need to put our heads together and tackle the major challenges we all face. How do we deal with programmatic buying? How can we improve measurement and audience surveys? What about new ad formats?
The digital industry is desperate for skills. And there are many South Africans who need work. This, in theory, is a simple problem to fix.
There are multiple challenges and it would be naïve to imagine that we could solve them all. However we have recently embarked upon an initiative to develop an accredited digital curriculum, tailored for an African market, and an accreditation programme that will certify digital professionals in various parts of the industry in a standard way.
We are already engaged with relevant bodies and organisations to achieve this.
These are complex and long-term projects but with a new industry expert heading up our education portfolio and our country manager in place, I am confident we will succeed.
The past year and a bit has been spent on building roads between us and other industry organisations on both agency and publisher sides. Some are pre-existing relationships that have sustained or strengthened, and some are new.
We have put energy into fostering co-operation and finding common cause. We have contributed time and effort to making digital a strong voice in all of these discussions and the results are showing. Telmar will soon release an internet planning tool, including our Effective Measure data weighted to the All Media and Products Survey (Amps). This is one of the most visible examples of where co-operation bears fruit.
It is a privilege to sit at the helm of an organisation in the fastest-growing, most important medium in the world. Digital will come to be all media, all the time. Our job, as I see it, is to help press down the accelerator.
Jarred Cinman is chairman of the IAB SA.
This story was first published in the July 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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