GroupM recently released its first Africa Media Index, a collaboration with In On Africa, that delved into five factors in each country surveyed: Economy and Business, Media Landscape, Media Consumers, Technology, and Governance and Legislation.
In brief, it found the continent’s media landscape was a “whirlwind of change and growth in activity” with power that can be “harnessed by knowledgeable investors”.
“Sub-Saharan Africa hosts 17% of the world population today, but only represents 2% of world GDP, and even less when we look at advertising investment, which is $2.6 billion or 0.47% of global investments. However, due to mobile and internet expansion, strong urbanisation and a booming middle class, the next 30 years should tell a very different story,” it said.
We asked several media companies operating on the continent for their views on where the opportunities lie, what challenges they faced, and what the believe is the next big thing.
Partner, head of media buying and planning at Marnox Media, Sipho Fakela, gives his views.
Q: What is your sense of the opportunities available in Africa in the sector in which you operate?
Africa as a continent is often difficult to predict and this is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that the uncertainty can bring new opportunities one would otherwise not have in a ‘normal’ or advanced economy, where there is no drastic change from one state of affairs to the next.
The uncertainty ushers in a wave of innovative solutions that appeal to the continent’s customers and citizens, created by both local and international organisations.
The opposite can also happen, in that an entire industry or sector, can be completely destroyed by a single unpredicted and unprecedented move by a country’s government, where a political decision is made behind closed doors in the wee hours of the morning, destroying businesses that have been actively participating in that particular country’s economic growth and prosperity for years.
For the sake of the article, I will focus on the positives.
The positive news is that in 2019, like in 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa was home to several of the world’s fastest-growing economies, according to the IMF. While this is great news for most of the countries that have seen their economies grow rapidly year on year, it is unfortunately not the case for South Africa as our economy has struggled to get out of the difficult times.
This is a great opportunity for our industry as it means most South African business and brands will be looking to the rest of the continent to expand and improve their balance sheets. The is more so for our retailers who have gone into the rest of Africa quite extensively, as some of the countries have seen year on year growth and this bring more opportunities for South African businesses to expand and tap into the increasing middle class with disposable income and a taste for quality products offered in a modern retail environment.
The opportunity for us is that we get to work the South African brands and their ad agencies, and help them successfully launch their products and services in the growing African markets using tools and techniques that resonate with each individual market, based on our expertise and experience that spans over 23 years.
Q: How are you taking advantage of those opportunities?
Africa is a blank canvas, and media owners are always open to new ideas that will help them propel their offering to meet the ever-growing needs of consumers-from a media consumption perspective. The openness and willingness to adapt to new, innovative ways of selling advertising by our over 200 media owners across the continent, is a great opportunity for us as it allows us to offer South African brands, advertising opportunities local and global brands are accustomed to, at a fraction of the price with a local touch for each market.
We have also had to transform and adapt as a business, to keep up with the trends and new ways of doing things in our own sector. We can no longer view ourselves as a predominantly media buying business, or a media representative company, as the work we do is far beyond this and to remain relevant and the best in our field, we now offer a wide range of solutions to clients to make sure that we can help them navigate the African territory effectively and efficiently.
Our media owners are fast becoming omni-channel organisations, it only makes for us to adapt our own expertise and offerings to match those capabilities that we have worked years to bring to the market, by constantly advising and guiding them to adapt to new technologies and ways of doing things, without losing their identities and their uniqueness.
We recently facilitated two store openings in different countries for one of South Africa’s biggest retailers. Both were highly regarded by the client as one of their best openings ever on the continent, even surpassing some of the local openings. This was achieved by being able to leverage added value and PR for the client by using the long term relationships we have built with media owners in both countries, at a fraction of what it would have cost to do the same campaign in South Africa, even in one of Africa’s most expensive markets from an advertising and media perspective.
Q: And the challenges you believe are impacting on your business?
The biggest challenge we see in our sector is that more clients are becoming price driven, and often overlook strategic value and input for the lowest price. Loyalty, accountability, and a proven track record in this sector is fast becoming a thing of the past, as clients give business to whoever is offering the lowest rates, and this is detrimental to the industry as a whole, and our business.
Q: What is the ‘next big thing’ and how are you tapping into that?
Africa is a mixed bag of opportunities and we are continuously investing in new partnerships to try and offer our clients more value with each campaign. We recently collaborated with a South Africa-based radio specialist agency for a campaign in Namibia, and the success of this was amazing.
Not only has it created a better relationship with the client in that we have changed the way they see the radio medium, it has also helped the local media industry and more stations are starting to relook how they sell the medium. This will hopefully increase the level of trust among South African brands on the capabilities of media owners across the border, unlocking more budgets for us and more ROI for brands.
Brands that are willing to explore new ideas and think outside the box will continue to reap the rewards of the vast opportunities that exist in Africa.
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