Media group Caxton has launched Spark Media, the industry’s newest operator, born from the joining of Newspaper Advertising Bureau of South Africa (NAB) and Habari Media. The move was officially announced at a star-studded, glittering event under the theme Strategically Come Dancing. Michael Bratt reports.
In an exclusive interview with The Media Online, Gill Randall, who was named CEO of the new group, said just over a year ago, the company identified that a dramatic shift was required in the media and marketing environment. “If we were going to remain relevant and keep adding value to clients, we needed to evolve and re-engineer our company and the way that we did business. And so began Spark’s conception.”
She said that Caxton and NAB were already starting to embrace the digital age before Habari Media came onto the scene, but was looking to bring in more digital sales expertise in the online space. “Apart from their skills in the digital space, Habari Media provided representation of premium international and national platforms such as BBM, Vodacom and Facebook which would give our digital sales component a lot of gravitas.”
Habari, which was founded in 2004, was acquired by Caxton at the end of 2013. It was a digital media sales house that worked with clients such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. NAB was responsible for newspaper advertising sales, marketing and administration of over 150 local newspapers in South Africa.
The result is the establishment of a pioneering cross platform media sales organisation with expertise in both traditional and digital media. Randall said that Spark Media was created in response to the evolving media landscape which, she says, has “changed drastically over the past 10 years”.
“Concepts such as above the line, below the line and through the line are obsolete and the concepts of ARs and frequency are being replaced with a focus on business outcome deliverables,” said Randall.
The launch of the new company was officially unveiled and celebrated at an event at the Barnyard in Rivonia under the theme ‘Strategically Come Dancing’. It consisted of a dancing competition which had 16 participants from eight media agencies taking part. The companies that were represented included PHD, The MediaShop, Vizeum, MEC, Carat, OMD and the Starcom MediaVest Group. It was won by the PHD team who impressed the judges with their hip-hop routine.
Other developments in the new company include the creation of channel managers to oversee particular platforms and the formation of Spark Agency, which is tasked with delivering creative executions of ideas to clients. Randall says all of these developments “will ensure we do what is right for the client and their advertising campaigns”.
The company’s ROOTS quantitative survey, which is currently in field, will include a new look at digital elements. “There are quite a few questions on our digital section that will help us to measure and trend digital consumption at a local level,” Randall says.
These include the types of messaging services used on mobile devices, brands of smartphones used, what technological devices are in the home, details of online activities, statements regarding what activities users engage in on local community news, what news websites are visited, what apps are used to gather news, social media utilisation and frequency, and the category of websites visited.
Randall says digital will become a greater part of the ROOTS survey because “as technology advances, so must our research. By adding in these questions, we’ll have a much better idea of how consumers engage with brands, each other and socially – this can only enhance our insights and assist our clients with their planning.”
The results are scheduled to be published in March 2016.
When asked what impact the new company will have on clients, Randall gushed about all the positives it will bring. She said clients will have access to many more market intelligence tools than before and that they will benefit from “the best practices and research tools and the skill sets of the personnel from both companies”. Randall says the new payoff line for the entity, ‘Insights that Ignite’, “perfectly sums up what clients will be receiving.”
To contact Spark Media call 010 492 8390, follow them on Twitter at or look for ‘Spark Media’ on Facebook.
IMAGE: Gill Randall, who will be the CEO, officially announces the entrance of Spark Media into the SA media space
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