Taking a look at what is happening in media in Gauteng, Stuart Graham finds that it is mostly ahead of the pack.
Follow the money and you’ll find the advertisers, those in the media industry say. In South Africa, that points to one province.
Gauteng soars above its fellow provinces not only in population size – 12.9 million – but its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product. It contributes 34.5%, which is more than double that of the next province on the list, KwaZulu-Natal.
“This is the economic hub of the country,” says Dustine Tobler of MediaCom.
“The bulk of the clients are here. We follow them and, as a result, the media is stronger in Gauteng. That is why those with the most experience are in Johannesburg and why you will find the best salaries here.”
The lion’s share of the R38 billion spent on advertising in the country between 1 August 2013 and 31 July 2014 was spent in this province, according to OMD’s media facts for 2015.
Print, social media, radio and out of home media, due to the sheer economic power of Gauteng, are taking the bulk of adspend.
Times are ominous for print, as readers are increasingly opting to find their news online – the percentage of total adspend fell from 40.9% in 2003 to 25.9% between August 2013 and July 2014. However, daily newspapers in Gauteng are still reporting formidable numbers.
The province’s two top two sellers, Daily Sun with a circulation of 274 200 and The Times with 144 400; followed by Sowetan with 99 500; The Star with 96 000; Beeld with 59 500 and The Citizen with 57 000, are pulling in the largest chunk of the country’s daily newspaper advertising. The total is R3.6 billion between August 2013 and July 2014, according to OMD.
Barbara Margorium of The Star‘s marketing department, says the challenging environment for print is bringing out the best in the newspaper’s creatives. As the print industry redefines itself, the newspaper is “finding new ways of doing what we do”, she says.
“Online is a big part of what we do but print is not about to pack up and die. We have many ideas and projects and the energy is very much in Gauteng.”
Beanlu Albasini, a marketing specialist for Media24, agrees that Gauteng is leading the way for media, despite the perception that Western Cape is the creative capital.
“In the past year, there has definitely been a shift in creative energy from Cape Town to Johannesburg,” she says. “The most cutting-edge and creative work is coming out of Johannesburg now.”
A recent project by Media24, documenting the path of an edition of Daily Sun newspaper, is a good example of the fresh energy sweeping over province, she says.
“We followed a copy of Daily Sun as it was bought by a reader early in the day,” Albasini says. “We tracked it as it was passed from reader to reader. It went through taxis and into the streets. We filmed and documented the movement of the newspaper the whole day.
“At the end of the day, we found that the newspaper was read by 14 people. It was very fresh and cutting-edge media project to be involved in and it came out of Gauteng.”
Print however, is slowly being eaten up by online, which is widely regarded as the fastest-growing platform in the country. Gauteng is where the majority of the users are.
Facebook, for example, grew to 11.8 million users in South Africa in 2015. The highest growth in the social media network in the past year was in Johannesburg, which grew by 55% and Pretoria with 49% growth, according to the SA Social Media Landscape 2015 report by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.
Advertisers are taking notice of the trend. Internet advertising has increased from R469 million in 2009 to R1.269 billion in 2014, according to OMD Media Facts 2015.
A survey of 65 of South Africa’s biggest brands was included in the Social Media Landscape study. More than half of these brands intend increasing their social media budgets in 2015.
In radio, competition among stations in Gauteng has intensified with newer entrants like Power98.7 vying for listeners and advertising revenue.
The medium attracted R5.9 billion in adspend between August 2013 and July 2014. Much of it was earned in Gauteng by stations like Jacaranda FM with 2.1 million listeners, 947 with 1.69 million listeners and 702 with 883 000 listeners.
Paulo Dias, a convergence specialist at Primedia Broadcasting, which owns 702 and Highveld, says “bigger things” are coming out of Gauteng when it comes to media.
“Innovation is coming out of the Cape but the scale is up here,” he says.
Advertisers, he says, are increasingly demanding more value for their money with interactive campaigns.
A recent challenge came of out of a campaign for BMW. The company had to find a creative way of running a project around radio traffic reports in Gauteng. The reports are a key service to the public but require advertising to remain viable. Rather than the old-style “this report was brought to you by” format, they wanted to find something to liven up the advertising around the reports.
“As you drive the new BMW 3 series, the car actually charts your route and gives you real-time traffic information and so you can change your route as you need to,” Dias says. “So, we came up with a campaign where we took our radio traffic reporters out in the BMW and they used real-time traffic information to compile their report.”
Not only was BMW receiving advertising, says Dias, but the reporters could travel to the traffic hotspots they speak about every day but almost never see.
“No one advertises outside of ‘brought to you by’ for traffic reports. This was an innovative way to do it and it happened here in Gauteng.”
Out of home advertising has grown from R517.8 million in 2003 to R1.6 billion in 2014, largely due to increased spending in province.
Lyn Jones of Continental Outdoor Media says design agencies have been moving to the Western Cape but the innovation, strategy and leadership is being driven from Gauteng.
“This makes sense because most of our clients are based in Gauteng,” she says.
Competition in this category is fierce in this province. Campaigns have to be innovative as advertisers request brighter, more involving results.
A campaign lead by Continental to promote Opel’s Adam car is an example of how the category is responding to the challenge.
In it, Opel allows customers to customise the vehicle to suit their style. The project required a visually powerful media platform to drive its message home.
So, they used nighttime creative movement and colour changes with animation and projection (see visual above). Commuters travelling towards Johannesburg on the N1 Ben Schoeman Highway, would have seen “the game-changing model” before the New Road Interchange in Midrand in February and March 2015.
Gauteng is also the established gateway for companies looking to grow their products and services on the continent.
“The province is the launch pad for companies that want to spread into Africa,” says Jones.
Continental, she says, controls all of its digital roadside advertising in Africa from its hub in Johannesburg.
“Literally, at the push of a button, we can broadcast any message across Africa to airports and other places,” she says.
Out of home companies have benefitted from municipalities in the province which are “far more accepting of outdoor advertising”, says Mike Leahy, the founder of IBIS Media Data Services.
“In the Western Cape, the approach to outdoor is far more conservative, probably because of environmental concerns.”
While Leahy believes the Western Cape leads the way in terms of innovation for media but that “the application” happens in Gauteng.
Gauteng, after all, is where the money is.
This post was first published in the May 2015 issue of The Media magazine.
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