Can our newly elected president save the media industry in South Africa and help us address the critical issues embedded within? Here are three questions, which I try to answer as I observe how things are unfolding in the South African marketing and media industry.
Question 1: Can the President save the industry?
I do not think he can, if things remain the same. Is the industry under threat? Industry professionals with their eyes and ears on the ground would know the threats that are growing.
Threat 1: The consultants
They pose a threat as they buy up creative and media agencies, adding more services to their consulting and auditing core operations. Accenture Interactive has already purchased 30 agencies globally so far.
Threat 2: Media brands shutting down (Ndalo Media; Sunday World)
As the media landscape adapts to changing consumer behaviour, certain media brands are going to find it hard to survive. Media will remain media, but consumers are changing how they access media. Certain media brands are built to sustain themselves via traditional methods and find it difficult to shift their business models. The end result here is an increase in the unemployment rate, which will create another headache for Mr President.
Source: SABC News
Threat 3: Foogle – Facebook & Google (digital media giants)
Facebook and Google are taking a large share of budget [over 65%] in terms of digital media spend in South Africa. I admire Foogle for their targeting and tech abilities. But they are not South African and the profits go overseas. Local digital media owners are struggling to compete.
What about strict consumer data laws like GDPR over and above POPI?
Question 2: Could transformation be the answer?
In the marketing and media industry, transformation seems to be a swear word and an assumption of an automatic political policy that gives people of a certain racial background equity shares and/or business in preference over others. I do not believe this is true. The notion that all black media agency MDs or CEOs are transformation hires is disrespectful of their skills, experience and hard work.
In my view, transformation is not giving a black person business just because they are black. It is giving black professionals and black business opportunities in an unbiased manner, coupled with support and backing.
My understanding of transformation, given the historical background of South Africa, is to give people of disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to display their talents and skills. The honest fact is that South Africa needs more business activity flowing to diverse racial groups for the betterment of the country and for advanced innovation.
Source: The Media Online
Question 3: Where is the talent?
As a black person, speaking English well does not mean that you are talented. It just means you speak English well, period. Many talented black professionals within our industry are denied career opportunities because of their accents. It is disheartening to experience such biases that do not even look at what you can offer or bring to business which is different or transcendent.
Where is the talent Mr President? South Africa has the highest youth unemployment rates in the world (according to Stats SA, 55% of the youth are unemployed). This is very sad, especially when you consider that the majority are black and underprivileged, and unable to study at AAA or Vega. And can I ask why we only hire graduates from Boston, IMM, AAA or Vega? Where are the N6 TVET marketing graduates?
The industry complains about there being no talent, but we forget to mention the red tape that exists within the sector. In my experience, agencies hire black talent, predominantly those coming from the schools mentioned above, or from private schools who have an [acceptable] accent.
The lack of segment context is the reason why many brands fail; we see black people dancing on ads, and adverts placed through incorrect media channels.
Source: Trading Economics
Save us Mr President
It is going to be an interesting five years for the governing party. Let us see if President Ramaphosa will address the below concerns embedded in our industry.
Concern #1: Unemployment rate | black talent (open the talent barrier)
Concern #2: Low GDP growth | open up the industry (speaks to transformation)
Concern #3: Foogle | Tax international players more (What about stricter consumer data laws?)
In essence, as a market, country or economy, our issues are self-imposed because if we open up the industry, regulate international players more and open up our definition of talent, we can solve our problems. Can the President bring a new dawn to our industry?
Source: Media Beyond The Numbers PPT
Nkateko Mongwe is a media analytics, market research and data insights specialist. He is one of a few industry hybrid media insights strategists with all round experience from leading media owners, leading media agency group and at client side leading national brand. He is a contributing member of the IAB research council and the Publisher Research Council research committee. He was one of the judges of the yearly AMASA 2018 Awards. He featured in The Media magazine’s MOST Awards edition. A passionate, opinionated writer and media analytics presenter/speaker. @datainsights88
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