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Tag: publishing

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.

Blogging and the Problem of Asymptotic Growth

Paul Jacobson is a lawyer and long-time South African blogger. He wrote a post today, “Blogging is, like, so 2007”, that triggered some thoughts I’ve had on blogging and growth. In it he talks about how the there are many more ways to publish your thoughts to the web other than your blog (lifestreaming), and how that fractured state leads to less value being placed in blogging.

Asymptotic Growth in Publishing

I think there’s more to it than just the number of ways to communicate, it’s also about the number of new people who come online each year with their own blog, Twitter comments, Facebook Note, etc. Each year there is more content being put online and so your own voice matters less relative to the sum of all noise out there. This applies to niches, and the web in general, and I refer to it as asymptotic publishing growth.

Put another way, even if your blog grows more readers every year, it shrinks in relation to the whole.

This is particularly apparent to first-movers in any new platform. At first you have an inordinate amount of “voice” in a specific sphere, which seems to erode over time.

Islands of Influence

One of my theories on what happens as these environments mature is that as they grow and there becomes more and more options for readers, that there tends to be a coalescing or readers around a certain few blogs or publishers. Though every one of the publishers is likely growing in size, there are certain “keystone” blogs to each niche that have an inordinate amount of influence relative to the general blog in that space.

For example, as a technology blog reader, I might visit 10 blogs every day. However, three of those are likely the same as everyone else.

I compare this to teen hangout locations. There are a lot of places to hang out, and everyone tends to go to a few of their favorite places. However, everyone knows the place to be on Friday night, and that’s the place where the majority of teens go.

In Summary

There will always be more noise in the blogosphere, or whichever publishing platform is your choice of the moment, than when you first started in it. However, those that provide the most value to the readers will continue to grow and also garner a greater relative audience than their peers.

Basically, asymptotic growth is a truth that we all have to live with, but there will always be islands of influence.

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