Technology advancement is like a tsunami; once it begins there is nothing that you can do to stop it.
I say this because we have watched the transformation from a controlled media environment to the liberalisation of media in Africa over the last two decades, some of which has recently been driven by the growth of mobile phone penetration.
Currently, 67 per cent of Africans own mobile phones, much more than the limited land line access which stood below 2 per cent. Internet access has grown to 27 per cent on the continent, with a majority of that access being through mobile devices.
Compare this with 95 per cent access to radio, 30 per cent access to TV and 15 per cent access to print. And, yet, the bulk of advertising expenditure (97 per cent) goes to the traditional media, with 3 per cent going to online media.
Media freedom is growing in Africa, leading to the birth of privately owned media, and resulting in double digit advertising spends growth. However, the industry is yet to adopt operational and sales efficiencies that have been developed in more advanced markets, such as the introduction of sales houses and the increased use of advertising agencies.
There are no sales houses in Africa that I know of. In Kenya, for example, only 50 per cent of advertising spend is booked through advertising agencies.
So how do media houses get the other 50 per cent that is not booked through agencies? It’s quite simple really. They have their own massive sales forces for what they call ‘direct sales’, meaning that they bypass the ad agencies and go directly to the client. In many cases they even offer the same advertising commission to the direct client as they would the agencies.
So with 67 TV stations, 163 radio stations and 50 print titles, there is a very large sales force promoting traditional media in Kenya.
Going further, there is a tendency for ad agencies personnel to rely on traditional media for their campaigns because of the legacy systems that are easy to fall back on, and that are easy to sell to clients. Clients too find it easier to measure ROI and justify advertising activities on traditional media, because of the processes that they have relied on for decades that feed the standard conversations had with their executive committees and board of directors.
More like this