Ringier Africa GM Leonard Stiegeler on new partnership with Business Insider

Leonard Stiegeler, general manager of Ringier Africa, has been involved in a number of internet-related investments and businesses on the continent for the past five years. Ringier Africa, the company he runs, is a leading diversified digital media company in Africa, operating online content, classifieds and ecommerce platforms, as well as a digital marketing agency, across the continent.

Ringier started as its investment in Africa as an experiment in Kenya in 2011 and the business has grown organically and through partnerships since, focused on East and West Africa. In Ringier Africa’s, latest news from the continent, they and BI announced their Sub-Saharan partnership in January this year. 

We asked Leonard to shed more light on the partnership, as well as why Africa is a challenging place, but why they see it as ultimately a market with high potential for reward. 

Partnership with Business Insider

BI will run as dedicated channels on Ringier Africa’s Pulse and P Live publisher and social media network, with Ghana (Pulse.com.gh/BI) and Nigeria (Pulse.ng/BI) in West Africa and Kenya (Plive.co.ke/BI) in East Africa as the core, anchor markets. 

According to Leonard, the Pulse/P Live network now reaches some 50 million people, but audience reach is not the top reason for opting for this integrated approach… “It is about ensuring great delivery: the Pulse/P Live platforms are optimised for all types of smartphones, including low-end ones, as well as for all the browser versions used in Africa. This way we ensure a good user experience to all our users here.”

The BI channels will be local content teams in each of the established anchor markets, contributing local content to go with BI’s international content. Likewise, local sales teams in each of the markets will combine to provide overall ad sales support.

While the focus is currently on the launch of BI online, the partnership allows for expansion into other areas, such as, for example, events and meetings, down the line.

Africa as an online media market

Africa presents challenges such as structural problems and administrative difficulties in doing business. In addition, many an outsider often makes the crucial mistake in thinking of it as one market, when in fact there are real and nuanced differences between markets. But with its 1 billion plus population, it “is a vibrant growth continent, with many of the fastest growing economies in the world,” as Leonard explains, and palpable “can do” energy to boot when you do business there.

Moreover, contrary to what many may believe, Africans are savvy media consumers with especially those in the growing middle class and upper classes considering themselves no different – in thought or habit – from their international media consumption peers. 

This creates an environment where “a key challenge equally becomes a great opportunity for publishers,” explains Leonard. 

While ”logistical and operational challenges make it difficult in many markets to reach a mass audience via print and even online, the rapidly “growing smartphone and social media penetration make it far easier to reach large audiences today.” (Note: earlier mass mobile penetration was also quick, and deep, driven by dire landline infrastructure).

This “makes for an attractive opportunity to nurture great, local journalism and content production, while also bringing international news and entertainment into the fold,” says Leonard. “Building our business from the start with this reality in mind and educating advertisers on the best way to use and target our reach have been crucial for us.”

Ultimately, “Africa presents an exciting, developing Internet media environment, one where I see the biggest gap between new opportunities and already realised potential elsewhere in the world.”

About the Ringier Africa portfolio:

Ringier Africa has four business groups, built around distinct business models:

• Ringier Africa One Media (ROAM), a leading classifieds across Africa. The business is a JV with One Africa Media, backed by Tiger Global and Seek

• Ringier Africa Deals Group (RADG), an ecommerce group focused on Nigeria, together with Silvertree Internet Holdings;

• Ringier Digital Marketing (RDM), a digital agency across East and West Africa; and

• Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP), the online publishing arm that includes the Pulse / P Live network with BI

See more here.

Media24 and Ringier are both FIPP members, while Axel Springer, another FIPP member, owns Business Insider (FIPP member directory or more info).

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