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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Tag: advertising

Interactive Marketing in Africa

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with two people that I have a lot of respect for in the interactive marketing space in Africa. First was Rob Stokes, CEO of the well known Quirk marketing firm in South Africa. Later in the week I got to catch up with Joshua Wanyama of Pamoja Media.

Before I get into that though, you should take a look at these numbers.

Africa’s exploding internet growth

Currently, Africa is the second fastest growing internet market after it was passed with the Middle East in terms of connectivity. The growth rate is 1,100% with only 5.6% of Africa’s 975 million people online.

The 10 largest internet markets in Africa are seen below. These 10 countries account for a staggering 86% of the 54.2 million Africans online:

1. Egypt – 10.5 million
2. Nigeria – 10 million
3. Morocco – 6.6 million
4. South Africa – 4.6 million
5. Algeria – 3.5 million
6. Sudan – 3.5 million
7. Kenya – 3 million
8. Tunisia – 2.8 million
9. Zimbabwe – 1.4 million
10. Ghana – 0.9 million

(Research number are from the Internet World Stats)

Education and Charlatans

Quirk is successful, and they’re looking to expand into other parts of Africa. However, one of the hurdles that they face is that there just aren’t that many people who understand why web marketing is needed, and that there is a need for a real strategy behind everything from your website to links to emails. It’s a problem of education in the business sector, and it comes with two problems.

Rob Stokes of Quirk in Nairobi

First, low-bandwidth has caused most internet usage to be lower than normal in Africa. So, a lot of businesses don’t recognize the value of good web marketing, since most of the executives never get online to see their work anyway. For instance, think about the tourism industry in Africa, it is plagued with slow, ugly and hard to find websites. Most of them don’t even realize the business they’re missing out on.

Second, there are any number of people who will tell you that they can do your internet marketing or help with your online strategy and execute upon it. However, that’s simply not true for many claimants. There are likely only a handful of real experts in online marketing in any sub-Saharan African country. In Kenya alone, I can only think of a couple firms or individuals who really know what they’re talking about, and even fewer who can execute upon what they speak.

So, Rob has a challenge in addressing this market in Africa. It’s a big market if it can be cracked, but it takes more than just sales skills, it takes someone with the patience to educate and grow an industry.

Redefining yourself for the market

Joshua Wanyama found himself in a bind. He had just moved back to Kenya after growing a successful web firm in the US. Now he wanted to put Pamoja Media on the map in Africa, and he realized quite quickly that there was a major knowledge-gap in the interactive marketing space. How could he sell the connections that his ad network gave him if the very people he was selling to didn’t have an online strategy at all?

Joshua Wanyama of Pamoja Media

This realization caused him to change his strategic direction of the Kenyan operations to gain a customers. He changed it from being just about his ad network, and added on 5 more areas of expertise that would really give his clients positive returns:

  • Interactive strategy – how to scale a company’s operations and marketing online
  • Creative Development – Interactive ads, landing pages, enewsletters & micro sites
  • Placement – We run ads on the Pamoja Media Network, Yahoo, Google and Facebook network of sites
  • Social Media Marketing – This works for clients seeking long term social engagement with customers. We handle blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other accounts for such clients
  • Online PR – We also handle online PR for companies seeking to grow their reputations outside of advertising African Market online

It’s a lot of work to sell yourself into new accounts and then keep up with the demands of high profile clients. I know, I’ve been there. I know Joshua, and I know he’ll be successful with this.

What I also know is this, it’s terribly hard to scale a service organization. It takes more people. My hope is that Pamoja Media will be able to gather enough clients in the ad network space so that that remains the core business. This can scale, and it can be done efficiently.

Using Web 2.0 Sites to Market Your Company in Africa

I came across a fascinating site today. At Discover Africa, you can search for images with only an African flavor. So, search for “playing soccer” and you’ll get ones that are geo-tagged in Africa or that also have another tag of “africa” on them. To do this, they’ve plugged into one of the poster children of Web 2.0, Flickr, to do it too. Pretty useful.

Discover Africa's Homepage

After a quick email dialogue with the organizers of the site, I came away more impressed They didn’t stop there though, and this is where they move from “pretty useful” to “pretty smart”. They’ve created this service as a way to generate a list of people who are interested in Africa and they are also running a campaign where two winners will win a dream African safari. You can enter the competition by blogging (using a traditional blog, Flickr or YouTube) about your dream trip to Africa in 100+ words with a link to Discover Africa.

“To do this you’re going to have to have a genuine interest in, or love for Africa – we’d like to see that come through in your entry.”

Why I like this

I like what Discover Africa is doing because it’s smart.

  • They have created a valuable African image search tool.
  • They’re using the hosting, computing power of Flickr and all of their huge user base.
  • They’re giving the value first, then asking you to join in and be a part of it.
  • The campaign looks easy and fun, and it has a big prize.
  • If it works, they’ll get a ton of search engine love.

I’m interested in seeing how this campaign goes. Who knows if they’ll actually share the numbers, but I plan to scan the web, in another 2 months, for results on the number of blog posts that have been written to enter this competition.

[Update: the below issue has been taken care of already. That was quick.]

Okay, the one thing I don’t like… When you click on an image to show it (see below), then there’s no way to get from their site to the image on Flickr. If I want to see the licensing usage for that image, I can’t easily find it. All they need to do to make me happy is make the image clickable, or create a link beneath it. Simple, and I’m sure it’ll make a lot of photographers happy too.

Soccer in Africa via DiscoverAfrica.com

Adgator: An African Blogger’s Ad Network

Justin Hartman and the guys at Afrigator are at it again. I’ve wondered for a very long time why no one had created an ad network for African bloggers, thinking that there surely must be someone out there who wanted to advertise on some African blogs.

adgator

Adgator is here to ask that same question, and prove it out. Make sure you read Justin’s post on the new platform.

Afrigator recently had a sizeable stake acquired by MIH Print Africa, a division of Naspers Limited. This gives them more money to work with, and more credibility. This also means that they have a sizable sales team at their disposal, which is one of the biggest issues when doing an ad network.

Before you run off to Adgator and sign up, here are a couple things you should know:

  • It’s a 50% revenue split with Adgator.
  • You get paid on a CPM basis, so you had better have a good deal of traffic to make money.

Questions

I had a couple questions for Justin regarding Adgator, and he was kind enough to reply with some answers. Here is our dialogue:

How do bloggers outside of South Africa get paid?

At this stage we’re only piloting the program in South Africa. We need to test the viability of the program in the country where Afrigator’s largest base lies and if we can make it work here then we’ll take what we’ve learned into other African countries. When we do, we’ll most likely setup our own bank accounts in those countries so that we can facilitate the payment process from within those regions. One of the core issues we’ve always struggled with in the Adgator idea is the payment one and we realise that paying people from SA simply won’t work.

Are you mainly focused on South Africa right now?

Yes – we’re only SA for now. I’m hoping to roll this out to Kenya and Nigeria by March 2009.

I know you have a sales team, how much of those sales are done outside of South Africa?

None at this stage and herein lies the problem. Because we have little resources in other African countries it makes Adgator even more difficult to implement outside of SA. However, through our efforts with Afrigator we are working on overcoming this issue and establishing ourselves in our larger African countries.

How many advertiser are already lined up?

This is without doubt the most difficult aspect of the job as advertisers need to be educated in this process. That said it looks like we’ve got between two and four advertisers depending on how the final negotiations go.

Pamoja Media: An African Ad Network

I’ve been waiting for someone to create an African ad network for a couple of years, and I’m really happy to see that Pamoja Media has launched. Started by Joshua Wanyama (of AfricanPath) and Benin Mwangi (of Cheetah Index), it’s an ad network created to serve advertisers trying looking for a one-stop-shop for publishers in Africa, or that reach Africans in the diaspora.

Publishers

Pamoja is brand new, and just starting to get going. That hasn’t stopped them from gathering an impressive list of publishers with a total of 10 million impressions dedicated and another 10 million more confirmed impressions if ad inventory is filled. That’s impressive, but more interesting is to see some of the names on their list of publishers, including: Mail & Guardian (South Africa), the Daily Nation (Kenya), Modern Ghana and Stock Market Nigeria.

Other publishers are welcome to apply, as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • Be focused on Africa, or the African diaspora
  • An Alexa ranking of 250,000 or better
  • Have a minimum of 2000 pageviews per day
  • Be aesthetically pleasing (or at least not embarassing)

Advertisers

as whoever has been involved in this knows, getting publishers on board is the easy part. Everyone of them is happy to go with the media outfit that will provide them with a solid amount of advertising income. Getting advertisers is the hard part, and that’s where Pamoja Media is focusing their work now that they have the initial 20 million impressions. Current advertisers include Pingo, PoaPay, Accents Telecom and Zain.

Advertisers joining so far have come in because they’ve seen the brand name portals available through the network. Pamoja can get them on board at a better rate for a smaller advertiser than if they go to the Nation or M&G themselves, because they do a bulk buy with multiple advertisers. As the network grows with other large portals giving up excess inventory, Pamoja will become even more attractive than it already is.

Joshua Wanyama and Benin Mwangi

Joshua Wanyama and Benin Mwangi of Pamoja Media
(I happened to take this about 1.5 years ago on a chance meet up)

Final Thoughts

Pamoja is onto something here. One of Pamoja’s really big focuses is to get advertisers to start looking and buying advertising on websites built for African readers in Africa. That means they need to continue looking for partners who can extend the value of the African network in Europe and Africa – people and agencies who already have connections. It will be crucial for those relationships to come together in order for more brandname advertisers to come on board and give even greater credibility to the network.

Pamoja is new, so like any other startup they have to prove themselves before the bigger advertisers come to the table. Right now they’re attracting small- to medium-sized advertisers (outside of Zain) through providing value added consulting and design services. With that capability, and time and proof of success, the network should be able to increase their margins and possibly roll out additional business units.

I think a lot about the fact that most Africans aren’t online reading websites in Africa – the penetration just isn’t there yet. That means this is a perfect time to grow a business and grow a name in a space with little to know other competition. As it the market grows, so will Pamoja.

Closely related to that last point is the fact that there’s a wide open space in the mobile market in this space too, and I hope that Joshua and Benin are thinking strategically about how they will incorporate mobile advertising in their network in the near future.

Random Thoughts…

Everyone has to answer phone calls after midnight. Thankfully, it’s usually not the emergency that you’re dreading it will be, but a wrong number. Which begs the question, who calls someone after midnight without it being an emergency?

Advertisers, is it really that difficult to understand that you should advertise your value proposition not your unknown brand name? No one knows, or cares to ask, what ABCWidgets.com is or does. They might care that you create the right widget for their need, or that you’re the fastest delivery in the business, etc…

silverbackers mobile phone gameLearn about saving the mountain gorilla in a conflict zone by playing this new game on your mobile phone. A Java game with an education component.

Saving your image files with a specific name (ex: soccer_ball.jpg rather than ns8743.jpg) is a lot better for both your sanity and your search engine traffic. Funny enough, but image search engines still use the file name as their key – so if you want to be found for a certain image, make sure you name it appropriately.

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