The DMMA, a voluntary non-profit body which represents the interests of the South African digital industry, recently rebranded as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) South Africa. This afforded its chairman, Jarred Cinman, the opportunity to attend the IAB Leadership Meeting in California. He shared some of the trends, lessons and debates coming out of the conference with Memeburn.
The IAB — apart from now having licensees in 42 countries — has a full-time staff of over 50, with headquarters in Manhattan. The conference is sold out and boasts speakers from major players like Google, Yahoo and Wells Fargo.
There are two startling things about being forced to think of the global internet advertising picture, instead of a local one. The first is just how big some countries are relative to others. Countries like Mexico and Italy for instance dwarf South Africa’s digital adspend by a factor of 10 or 20. The US by many times more than that. The second is that all of these countries share a similar frustration to how little of the overall advertising pie digital has managed to claim.
In the content of the opening address by Randall Rothenberg — the diminutive, galvanising IAB president and CEO — runs a deep sense of dissatisfaction with where digital advertising finds itself. The newly elected Chairman, Vivek Shah, is even more explicit. He argues that this will be the last conference where the “clickthrough” will be mentioned as an important metric for digital campaigns. He also bemoans the poor creative work visible in banner advertising — we have, he says, systematically taken the perfect product and made broken it.
In informal discussions with representatives from Europe, South America and the Middle East, the same kind of sentiment is ubiquitous. Advertisers are not spending the money they should be on digital marketing — and its going to take some radical new paradigms to change this.
Sitting here, and meeting colleagues from other parts of the globe, is both inspiring and humbling; motivating and overwhelming. A country like South Africa lags a frightening distance behind most of the other markets represented here in almost any metric you care to measure. To be it is the only African country in the mix; and its economy is a fraction of the size of the typical European or North American one. So the comparison strains at that point. Nevertheless it shares both challenges and the opportunities with its wealthier counterparts.