There are challenges still facing media measurement in Africa, but the mobile phone, for one thing, is improving matters, as is the Pan African Media Research Organisation.
Although media research throughout Africa has improved, there are still many challenges.
Key among these is that a lack of joint industry committees (JICs) makes it difficult to get stakeholders to collaborate in order to establish best practice and methodology for data collection.
JICs are generally the central point for stakeholders in order to put out tenders and establish gold standards for measurement. The South African model has worked successfully, with two main JICs, the Broadcast Research Council (BRC) and the Publisher Research Council (PRC) as well as some others.
But there are few establishment surveys across the African continent, mainly because of a lack of funding and a lack of collaboration between stakeholders within countries. Establishment surveys are essential in order to create a hub survey that other researchers can use to weight their surveys to the correct numbers.
The absence of up-to-date census figures is also a big problem; the census data in many countries is over 20 years old. Multinationals and local advertisers all need media research information in order to ensure they spend their money efficiently and target their consumers in the best possible way.
Also important are levels of urbanisation and literacy levels. But advertising agencies find it difficult to source reliable media research information in order to build their media plans. The end result is that advertising revenue across the continent is not what it should be.
In order to actualise the potential of the various consumers across the many African countries there is a need for harmonised research. Advertisers need to segment and compare markets across various territories. There are a few segmentation models that are currently used in syndicated surveys, for example, socio economic measures (SEMs), the lifestyle standard measure (LSMs) and also the Pan African Media Research Organisation (PAMRO) socio-economic segments (SESs). There is currently work being done on trying to consolidate in order to have one measure with which to compare most countries.
More modern research methodologies
Using the mobile phone to collect information has become popular with companies on the continent. It’s cost effective, can reach rural communities and measures demographics as well as media usage.
Passive media measurement is something which is being explored, as well as hybrid models for TV measurement. A television audience measurement (TAM) panel is costly to install and maintain in rural areas and many of the leading research companies are looking to measure outside of First World countries more cost effectively.
Measurement of big data is becoming more important. Social media, digital advertising and online shopping sales all need to be integrated with the traditional research surveys.
Data integration is the key to finding the total reach of advertising campaigns. Measurement in silos for different media types is out-dated. Fused data sets for media usage and brand consumption are becoming essential.
More and more advertisers are doing their own proprietary research on their brands in order to better understand their consumers. This, together with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, needs to be integrated in one platform to identify the best sales opportunities and to measure existing campaigns more effectively
How close are we to finding these solutions?
We are getting closer to solutions and the new decade will show rapid growth in this area. The foundations have been laid in more countries and everyone seems to recognise the need for media research in order to grow advertising spend and thereby grow GDP in Africa.
Some progress is:
• Harmonised segmentation is currently being used and expanded on.
• Fused data sets are available in some countries.
• As new technologies become more available to consumers via their mobile devices and more affordable mobile internet, opportunities for new methods of researching the market are opening up. This is currently being acted on across a few African countries.
• Passive measurement is being explored in some markets.
• Multinationals are spending more money on collecting their own research.
• The PAMRO country reports on media research covered a record 26 countries in 2019 and will cover even more territories in 2020.
• The signs are that more and more stakeholders understand the growth potential on the African continent and will hopefully invest in the research to make this happen faster than it has in the past.
Jennifer Daniel is regional director of Telmar, Africa/Asia-Pacific region. She has decades of experience in the South African research market, including being general manager of group research and audience strategy at e.tv.
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