Internet advertising is growing in Africa and Google, as the global technology company driving the ecosystem, is embarking on measures to ensure the estimated ad said to be worth N305 billion by 2020 is effectively sanitised while pointing to the new direction businesses could take to maximise their online ad investment. KUNLE AZEEZ reports.
Globally, technology has become a key player in driving activities in all the sectors of a nation’s economy and, indeed, in all facets of human life, advertising space is one of such sector that is witnessing revolution.
With increased access to telecommunications services across the nooks and crannies of the world and most especially in Africa, the hitherto traditional advertising has practically given way to a more lifestyle-like Internet or more specifically mobile advertising.
Discussions around the changing landscape of Internet advertising ecosystem thus formed the crux of a recent Google Sub- Sahara Africa Ads Workshop organised for media practitioners in Jourhanessburg in South Africa.
Speaking at the forum, Google Kenya Country Manager, Mr. Charles Murito, said businesses must work fast to catch up with the fleeting consumer whose attention is now on mobile platforms.
According to him, with compelling content, advertisers and businesses can tap into the millions of mobile phone users and consumers who are engaged through their gadgets. Already, the total Internet advertising market size is expected to exceed $1 billion (about N305 billion) by 2020 in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Essential factor in business
Today, ads are often perceived as an unwanted evil online, something that came along and intruded on the free-for-all content bonanza that populated the early web.
Ads, however, are an essential factor of the online business model, driving both the availability of content and technology innovations that make it easier for advertisers to reach increasingly specific audiences.
According to Murito, as e-commerce continues to grow on the continent, more shoppers are easier to reach through their smartphones, stressing that on average, mobile users look at their phones for up to 45 seconds at any one moment. “A marketer can make use of such micro-moments to run short advertorial content that can be consumed through smartphones.”
Going the mobile ad way
Available data from the three countries are also pointing to why businesses that want to reach customers more quickly have to go the way of mobile advertising. Aside from revenue in digital ad expected to reach N305 billion in the next two years, Internet access is increasing annually in Africa.
Between 2014 and 2017, access in Kenya increased from 45 per cent to 53 per cent; in South Africa from 48 per cent to 65 per cent and Nigeria from 62 per cent to 63 per cent. Essentially, the Internet in Africa is mobile.
The share of searches conducted on smartphones in the four quarters of 2017 was 86 per cent in Nigeria, 81 per cent in Kenya and 67 per cent in South Africa. Mobile searches of ‘where to buy (product)’ have increased 140 per cent over the past year in Kenya, according to Google data. Globally, the revenue from Internet advertising exceeded that from TV advertising for the first time in 2016, according to PWC study.
Leveraging videos in digital ads
Available data reeled out by Google’s Agency Relationship Manager, YouTube South Africa, Jonathan Andrews on the increasing growth in videodriven messages point to why businesses should leverage video contents to drive their businesses online.
According to Andrews, You- Tube has over 1.5 billion monthly logged in users and every day, people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views. “If you had to sit and watch one billion hours of content, it would take you 100 000 years. Africans are spending more and more time on YouTube – presenting more opportunity for marketers to reach them there,” he said.
Andrews said watchtime on YouTube over the past 12 months has increased 120 per cent year-on-year in Nigeria, 110 per cent year-on-year in Kenya and 90 per cent year-on-year in South Africa., saying mobile is fueling YouTube’s growth. The greatest impact for brands in terms of ad recall and brand awareness are seen in the first 6 – 15 seconds of an advert, according to Google data.
With online video growing at lightning speed, Cisco predicts that by 2020, 90 per cent of Internet traffic will be video. YouTube is at the heart of this transformation, driving around 50 per cent of online video viewing today.
About 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Cleaning digital space of bad ads
Meanwhile, Head of Ads PR, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Google, Jenn Kaiser, said Google’s ad business, has remained anything but small and in an era of bad ads, and bad actors in the online ads ecosystem, making sure that users only see ads that are relevant and useful is a constantly moving target.
She said Google does this through setting policy at a global level that is applicable to all of its platforms and products, across all the countries it operates in. “There are a lot of players in the advertising ecosystem, and policy exists to protect three key ones – users, brands/advertisers and publishers,” Kaiser said.
According to her, “users have a right to see ads that are useful, advertisers have a right to get value from their advertising and the right to decide what places are appropriate for their ads to be shown, and publishers have a right to earn revenue through advertising and to have a say on what ads appear on their sites.” Google removed 1.7 billion bad ads in 2016.
It monitors and reports on this annually (the 2017 results are expected out in early March). This, said Kaiser, is an example of Google’s policies working as intended. “A lot has changed since 2000 and Lively Lobsters,” she commented.
“Policies change as regulation changes. We must comply with local law and we comply with the laws in each country we’re in.
“User safety is key. If a type of ad or advertising in a new kind of vertical or category is confusing users or being misleading, we will review and change our policy accordingly.
New businesses emerge all the time, often in response to more and more people coming online, and we adjust our policies to cope with these new types of businesses and new technology, which didn’t exist in 2000.”
While Google continues to drive policy to sanitise the Internet ad ecosystem, African businesses have been urged to follow consumers where they are, which is on their mobile phones, as it is becoming tougher for advertisers too, as consumers are more likely to research a product or brand on the Internet as well as seek reviews from online communities before going out to buy.
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