Neil Clarence, chief operating officer of Vicinity Media, gives the lowdown on the uptake of advertising tech in South Africa.
Are agencies utilising mobile to the extent they could be, and if not, what’s holding them back?
We’re getting there, but have a way to go and that applies to the technology companies as well as the agencies. For example, we collected over two billion first party location data points in 2019. We’ve only just launched the tools to harness that data. So I’d say the job still needs to be done on the technology/media owner side.
Agencies are definitely moving towards an ecosystem approach that combines mobile with traditional media. Using mobile to amplify out of home advertising (OOH) or TV is taking off and will change the landscape forever.
Is investment in advertising and/or marketing tech by big companies keeping back some smaller companies without the capital to make these investments?
Building technology costs more and takes longer than ever planned for. Also, the talent pool is small in South Africa. For these reasons, we’ve seen many off-the-shelf AdTech providers in South africa. On the other hand, building tech for tech’s sake when off the shelf international solutions can do the job is also an old school approach. It’s all about your long-term strategy and whether or not you can achieve that with an existing solution. To truly innovate, companies need innovative tech, but off-the-shelf can make commercial sense in the short term.
The OOH sector seems to have adopted geo-location/targeting. Is that set to grow still further?
Definitely. The mind-set that mobile is OOH is starting to really take hold. They’re both location-based, after all, and we often refer to billboards as the original location-based advertising. OOH strategists are trying to capture an audience using location, geo-fencing with mobile that fits the brief 100%.
Mobile fills the gaps in your OOH plan and helps you talk to that same audience at home or work. The key to using mobile to amplify OOH is that you need accurate targeting. If you can’t guarantee that your targeting can talk to your OOH audience, then it’s a case of a couple of nice slides in the presentation that don’t actually work in practice.
One area of growth to look out for when it comes to mobile and OOH is pre-testing creative. In other words, using mobile to test OOH executions at different billboard locations to inform which board goes on to the schedule.
What are some successful campaigns using these technologies that Vicinity has done over the past year? What made them successful?
AdTech needs to enhance the basic principles of marketing, not completely erase them.
In the National Football League (NFL) draft every year there’s an event called the ‘Draft Combine’. At this event all potential players are measured by speed, strength, vertical jump and other tests. The idea is that by measuring everything they’ll be able to select the best football players for the next season. In 2000, the guy who came stone last in the Draft Combine was Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time. That’s a great example of being blinded by measurement.
We do the same in the digital space – we have this obsession with analytics and it sometimes blinds us. An example is lead forms. Often clients force a lead form into a campaign for the sake of measurement, even though with certain purchases and on certain platforms (such as mobile) a lead form just creates a point of friction between the sender and the receiver.
Another example is re-targeting. We get re-targeted one hundred times a day because we have forgotten the basic principles of reach and frequency. So my advice is to only use AdTech that enhances the basic principles of marketing, not because the provider has a wow dashboard or deck.
Data data data. What are your collection points of the data you need to operate effectively, and what is the process after that?
We’ve recently released a number of big data visualisation and targeting tools. This allows us to create relevant communication for any industry using first party location data. On that, we collected 2.5 billion first-party location data points last year. No one outside of the networks has that amount of first-party location data. That allows us to help any industry.
For example, if banks want to talk to people in the market for a new property, we have a dataset of people that have visited a show day in the last four weeks. If you want to communicate with moms, we have a dataset that visits schools at 1.30pm every day. The applications of first-party data are endless.
How would you position programmatic buying in South Africa at the moment? On the curve, behind, ahead?
We’re a non-programmatic buy so I’m a few steps away from this one but most of the agencies use global tools so I think we’re up there. I can say that in the location space we’re world leaders. Vicinity’s location data and technology is verified by a UK-based third party and we score 100% on accuracy on every single campaign, placing us at the top of the tree globally.
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