How technology opens up media measurement in Africa

To put it bluntly it’s been a bit of a Wild West in many African countries when it comes down to the kind or measurements and analytics brands expect.

The lack of data is also a major concern to companies wanting to grow into Africa and into mediums other than out of home, long regarded as the primary advertising platform on the continent.

But technology has seduced Africans much as it has consumers the world over, and has opened up new ways of measuring media.

Pioneering research into how brands perform on social media in Africa was launched at the recent Pan Africa Media Research Organisation’s conference in Dares Salaam in Tanzania. 

Under a theme of Media Research for One Continent, the conference prepared the ground for a uniform research infrastructure in Africa to help media brands, marketers and agencies compare apples with apples. This is something the continent sorely lacks and which is often seen as a barrier to growth.

It also allowed a space to report back on progress made on the establishment of socio-economic segments across Africa, a PAMRO-driven ‘harmonised’ establishment survey and research updates from various countries.  

Major international players Nielsen and Ipsos presented their findings, but it was a groundbreaking new research tool, the Africa Brand Index, by Ornico, a South African company operating in the African theatre, that got people excited.

The tool measures social media reach and engagement and was created by digital content monitoring outfit Fuseware, which was bought by Ornico earlier this year. 

At its heart is the belief that social media plays such an enormous role in brand building that it’s become vital to measure its performance accurately in a way that benchmarks reach and frequency.

Ornico CEO Oresti Patricios says a team of coders, analysts and researchers created a benchmark for measurement by pre-selecting 500 of Africa’s top brands. They then analysed their profiles on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, the ‘big four’ of social media.

The research revealed that SuperSport, owned by pan African pay-TV operator DStv (in turn is owned by South African media giant and world media player, Naspers) is Africa’s biggest social media brand. 

It’s worth mentioning that pay-TV is Naspers’ ‘cash cow’, and the cash pile it churns out helped finance many of its digital acquisitions of internet properties, including TenCent in China which this year alone delivered ZAR17-bn (about £828-m) profit to the media giant. 

SuperSport takes it all

In his presentation, Patricios refers to SuperSport’s high score as “digital dopamine”. This, he says, means it engages consumers, has good growth and good reach, and offers relevant content that people want to see and interact with. The opposite is true for low scores.

Africa top 20 ()

Sixteen of the top 20 brands were South African, three Kenyan and one Nigerian. The research also highlighted the popularity of other broadcast brands in Africa. The South African Broadcast Corporation’s early morning magazine show, Expresso, was number two while News24 (which operates throughout Africa) was listed in sixth place. Capital FM in Kenya, South Africa’s, radio station Jacaranda FM and DStv also featured.

Patricios attributes this to “the strong influence of broadcast brands in Africa, and the rising phenomenon of multi-screening”.

And the massive popularity of apps such as WhatsApp, 2Go and Eskimi in particular show consumers are interacting with their mobile phones for longer than they consume traditional television.

Ipsos SSA director of client relations, Nanzala Mwaura, presented the latest research on Africa’s affluent consumers, described as “clever, connected, shopaholics”.

“Affluent lives and lifestyles have become intertwined with media in general and digital media in particular,” says Mwaura.

The latest Ipsos SSA survey showed ‘African Affluents’ were “heavy media consumers”. They spend almost five hours a day engaging with media of various types, broken down into two hours spent on television, one-and-half hours on the internet, and reading magazines and newspapers for an hour.

But Nielsen sounded a warning to media owners and agencies not to lump all African consumers into one group, cautioning that while some countries had high Internet connectivity, in many others penetration was low.

But the good news coming out of the conference was that great strides are being made to standardise and hone measuring media in Africa; it could soon be less Wild West and see more doors opening to do business with media on the continent.

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