A disruptive new media agency aims at levelling the playing field for small, black-owned media owners in South Africa.
More than 80% of South Africa’s media pie is shared between the top five global media agency groups. This leaves very little room for local, independent players to enter the market and compete, because of the large capital and credit requirements needed to book media on a large scale. This advantage is what global agencies have had for many years, coupled with the financial backing from their parent companies from around the globe.
This is why earlier this year M&N Brands and Park Advertising took action – a move that envisages paving the way for a more representative media industry in South Africa.
Collaborating to form AMA to disrupt the media agency landscape in South Africa, the two gentlemen have their eyes on the prize: to open up the media industry to as many small, black-owned media owners as possible.
AMA is the first fully black-owned media agency that is able to compete on the same scale and tools as the big, networked agencies, which currently control 80% of the media industry in South Africa. For us, this translates to several significant positive effects.
Firstly, AMA is a media agency that has the same buying power as its global counterparts. AMA has more than $200 million in credit facilities and enjoys the benefits of bulk buying with local and international media owners. Traditionally, only the networked agencies have had this kind of buying power, but with AMA – which has the leverage of benefiting from a rate card billing of over R5 billion – our clients can look forward to benefiting from this purchasing power locally as well as global buying discounts on platforms like Facebook and Google.
Secondly, AMA’s best-in-class tools and processes, combined with its 100% black ownership make it a no-brainer choice for advertisers. Client spend can now contribute towards their B-BBEE targets.
And thirdly, AMA is opening the market for small, black-owned media owners; we intend to work closely with previously overlooked media owners as well as those who have unconventional assets, such as wall murals in the townships, online radio stations, etc. This makes it easier for advertisers to tap into bespoke marketing solutions.
We are committed to growing the South African media landscape. We know there’s a long road ahead of us, but our commitment is unwavering and we look forward to teaming up with like-minded organisations like the MAC Sector Council in ensuring the transformation of the industry.
AMA welcomes the establishment of the MAC Sector Council and deems it one of the most important developments of our time. It’s no secret that the marketing industry – more specifically media – has a big transformation challenge, as highlighted by the recent South African Human Rights Commission inquiry about racism and discrimination in the advertising industry.
We have to acknowledge that the charter was created a long time ago and the business environment has changed since then. With the sector council in place, our hope is that there will be an oversight role regarding BBBEE in order to review targets and ascertain where we are as an industry against them. The council could also review the targets and see if they are indeed still relevant for today’s business environment and make the necessary recommendations.
The common ground between AMA and the MAC sector council is that we seek to achieve the same thing at the end of the day: to drive transformation in the industry. MAC uses legislative authority to drive transformation while AMA is a business that uses its ability to infiltrate and to buy media on a large scale to drive this transformation.
AMA exists to change money flow to smaller up and coming black-owned media owners that traditionally would not get access to larger brands. This is how we are going to ensure that we create a more representative media industry.
As an entity, we strongly feel that we should tackle transformation collectively as an industry. AMA is taking on a Goliath of a problem, and we encourage clients to rethink as well as act upon their activism on how their media budget is spent. At the end of the day, these tangible efforts are what will make the difference.
Having legislative authority is important because it provides a destination, but equally important are the entrepreneurs who are the vehicles in which the MAC sector achieves its targets and finally, the clients who are the fuel to this transformation.
All three must sing from the same hymn sheet to start seeing meaningful change in the media industry.
Created a mere few weeks apart, AMA sees an opportunity to share learnings with the MAC sector council to create a more representative media industry.
Change is not a threat
The latest Agency Scope 2021/2022 report reckons South Africa’s creative agencies are encroaching on media agency spaces, as many now offer more media services. Meanwhile, marketers are edging towards demanding integrated services. The report also forecasts digital spend is set to surpass 37%.
As AMA, we embrace the drastic changes that are happening in the marketing industry. Creative agencies and media agencies are integrating again, which we believe has some merit for some clients.
The narrative is changing with the growth of digital media – creative and media are so closely interlinked that it doesn’t serve either party for the services to be separated.
As such, we do not see this as a threat to media agencies but in fact as an opportunity. More and more media agencies today are employing some creative staff to help with the faster execution of some of the digital work.
Dynamic optimisation of the creative starts with media performance feedback – which we believe then informs creative, which in turn informs media performance back again in a virtuous loop.
Media agencies the world over are employing “Predators” (Producer / Editor mix). These folks focus on quick turnaround work that is heavily performance-based. AMA views this not as a threat, but rather as an opportunity we plan to capitalise on.
The media industry is drastically changing, and nowhere is this more evident than in the performance metrics that are being used in communication. For example, 95% of digital media has over the years moved to very linear metrics like Cost Per Click and Cost Per View. In the near future, we believe that more bespoke metrics like “true attention” and “engagement” will become more important, as well as what those mean for each brand and each campaign.
Locally, we should also not lose sight of the impact that digital terrestrial television (DTT) has on television ratings. We have noted with concern a huge drop in audience ratings because of DTT – especially on the free to air channels. So, as traditional linear ratings are dropping – clients are moving increasingly to Cost Per Point (CPP) guarantee type television buying and moving far away from cherry-picked buying. As consumers across the board get access to more and more channels, we will find the battle for attention and engagement only growing more.
Lastly, the battle to stand out is hotter than ever before. According to Adex, R131 million was spent on advertising in 2021 – every single day! That is an enormous number. Our job as communications experts is to get our clients’ brands engaged with and noticed. AMA intends to achieve this by creating unique, creative, breakthrough opportunities for clients in a sea of sameness.
AMA seeks to level the playing field for small, black-owned media owners and transform the industry as a whole with a little bit of help from its friends. It also has bold ambitions to flourish in Africa to help grow the African media landscape – and it is just getting started.
Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, chairman, M&N Brands
Chris Botha, group managing director, Park Advertising
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