Online advertising showing strong growth in Africa

Posted on September 12, 2017 09:51 am

New data shows that online advertising in Africa has grown by 30% between January and June this year. Leading brands including banks, retailer chains, airlines and telcos have increased their spending significantly. With digital advertising, marketers can specify the viewers they want their digital ads to be shown to. Google and Facebook combined are said to soak up about 60 per cent of Africa’s online advertising spending and are able to allow such targeting as they have a detailed profile of almost every Internet user on the planet. The profiles have been built up over time using cookies which are basically defined as computer programmes embedded in the Web browser or smartphone app to track people’s location and surfing patterns. Digital advertising also offers marketers a more precise measurement of the success of their campaigns. This is done using metrics such as page views and click-throughs. The former logs the number of times someone is looking at a webpage where an ad sits, while the latter refers to the number of times people click on an ad.The higher the number of page views or click-throughs to elicit some sort of action, be it to buy a book or watch a video, the more effective the supposedly marketing campaign.On the downside, despite the promise of digital ads being more effective because they can target a market so precisely, the digital ads include a target reach that is totally fake or wrongly identified.The report has ­labelled the advertising market dysfunctional following the widely covered stories around digital measurement on some blogs and news websites in countries like Nigeria and South Africa.The report notes that proliferation of fake measurements and fake news ­appearing on social media news feeds and other websites has been used to get advertising dollars in several African countries.The digital advertising offers huge potential. To see how it is clicking with advertisers, take these figures: The latest advertising data expects digital advertising to account for 35.7 per cent of the overall ad spending in 2017 forecast for this year in Sub Saharan Africa up from 23.6 per cent last year. The absence of an independent auditing body in the region to tackle the scourge of fake online ads and hold entities accountable means the job of policing rests on the shoulders of advertisers and their appointed media agencies.

The challenge is to better harness the potential of digital advertising, while stamping out the problems. One would like to think now that the debate over fake measurements will lead to advertisers in particular, ad agencies and others reassessing the value of different platforms because the African ad market is dysfunctional at the moment. One of the report authors told your blogger that the market is dysfunctional and it’s digitally dysfunctional.In South Africa, Google and ­Facebook have been engulfed in scandals about the metrics used to measure their audiences and to sell advertising.The South African issue has highlighted the relative robustness of measurement systems used by traditional media companies.Authors noted that advertising agencies also needed to take ­responsibility for where they were placing ads for their clients.In the case of the fakes measurements on websites, ads might be clicked on but not actually viewed, yet still counted as so, or increasingly, not even being seen by a human being. In Nigeria, there were cases where some blogs and websites ads were mass-clicked by robots, or bots, programmed to mimic how humans browse the Internet.No doubt fraudsters have abused the system with fake ad views and so these metrics have lost their value, causing advertisers to rethink how they spend their brand dollar.Programmatic advertising has seen advertisers left in darkness as to where their ads were showing and to whom although marketers now demand disclosure of model where they get full transparency on costs, fees and traffic.Efforts are being made to restore credibility to the online advertising in Africa.For example, some of the tools being used to restore the credibility your blogger has seen and tested will determine if at least half of an ad appears on a browser’s viewable portion for at least one second and will help marketers in Africa to decide if effective viewing has taken place.The current problem now is that even if the ad takes up a few pixels in the most obscure portion of the Web browser, it will still be registered as a page view with advertisers charged for it. Ad agencies involved have welcomed such efforts to ensure transparency in measuring how efficient or effective an ad is. This will help execute a more nuanced understanding of the digital landscape in the absence of an independent auditing body where advertisers have to do most of the heavy lifting.Advertisers in countries like Kenya and Mauritius are establishing the efficacy of digital advertising which is not only a statistical issue but also of perception such as being associated with fake measurement sites.

Contador Harrison