As South Africa seeks to rebuild itself, advertisers should partner with news brands which are trustworthy and which play a constructive role in our society
The Storytelling for Brands webinar, presented by Ads24 and Media24, coincided with the early days of the #StopHateForProfit campaign and major global brands pausing their social media advertising in the USA prior to the elections. It was inevitable that the three eminent South African editors participating in the webinar should seek to draw advertisers’ attention to the advantages of their trusted local news brands.
The neo-colonialism of the Big Tech companies
Editor-in-Chief: Rapport, Waldimar Pelser, expressed concern that Facebook and Google were eating up more than 90% of South African digital advertising. He characterised this as “reeking of neo-colonialism” with profits being repatriated to the US and Europe, rather than staying in SA. He pointed out that in the “Before Times” most adspend had stayed in South Africa, having been allocated to media that played a constructive role in our society. Especially in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, he argued that South African news brands were in a better position to package stories and solutions that are authentically local.
Brand safety and control
A further caution for advertisers was that they had little control over where their messaging was placed on Facebook and Google: this lack of environmental control was exacerbated when programmatic advertising was used. By contrast, advertisers who placed advertising in Media24 news brand knew what they were getting: content that had been checked and corroborated. Pelser stressed that if these titles got things wrong there were consequences. An environment of heightened accountability was beneficial for the readers who knew they were getting credible and trustworthy information.
City Press editor in chief, Mondli Makhanya, agreed that the recent developments of the big brands of the world taking action to call for accountability from Facebook were positive. However, he remained cautious, describing the tech companies as massive giants which gobble up ad-investment on a global scale, presenting challenges even to global media companies.
Also underlining the importance of the brand safe environments of Media24’s trusted news brands was Mapula Nkosi, Editor-in-Chief: Daily Sun. She pointed out that there were not a lot of trolls or negative content in these accountable and curated spaces. These news brands could take advertisers directly to the audiences they were seeking, and through collaborative partnerships ensure that brand stories were told in safe and trusted environments and in a way that was meaningful to their audiences.
Commercial partnerships and meaningful relationships as the way forward
Pelser was frank about asking for the support of commercial partners, saying that for news brands to continue to find and tell the stories of our society, they needed to have well capacitated newsrooms. Reader income alone could not sustain such newsrooms. Makhanya expanded on this theme saying there were many stories of corporate South Africa making real differences, but effectively telling these requires building meaningful relationships.
Collaboration and innovation are vital to building the recovery of South Africa. In this unique time, brands and corporates have the opportunity to collaborate with Media24 news brands to forge a new way forward and to tell their stories in the most meaningful way.
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