Facebook has announced the opening of its first African office as it seeks to continue growing the social network’s footprint on the continent and take advantage of the advertising and commercial opportunities presented by the ever-increasing number of Africans who are using the network.
The office is located in Johannesburg but will focus on the entire sub-Saharan African region, which a special emphasis on the key markets of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Facebook says it is enlisting the help of governments, telecom operators, agencies and other stakeholders to help drive the effort.
Given that there are already 120-million African-based users and the numbers are likely to continue climbing as more people become connected, the potential for advertising is huge. However, marketers wishing to take advantage of this will need to optimise their advertising strategies for mobile devices as this remains the main method of connecting to the Internet for most Africans. Feature-rich, video-heavy marketing messages may remain problematic in the short term, as data costs on the continent remain high and connectivity can be unreliable outside the major urban centres.
However, this situation is expected to improve over time and the company says it expects the cost of data services to decrease. It also anticipates that increasing numbers of people will upgrade from basic feature phones to smartphones that are capable of running Facebook’s full mobile app.
“We are committed to creating solutions tailored to people [and] businesses specifically for African markets,” said Ari Kesisoglu, Regional Director for Facebook in the Middle East and Africa, in a media statement.
“Our priority for the next few months is to continue the work we are already doing with some clients in this region. We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges, so that we can build solutions that help grow their business.”
The new African sales team will be led by Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, a prominent figure on the South African and African advertising scene. She was previously chairperson of Ogilvy South Africa and the only African representative of the board of Ogilvy Worldwide.
Although the aim of the new office is the increase Facebook’s advertising opportunities in Africa, there is already a notable advertising base on which to build. “Facebook now has over 1,5-million active advertisers from around the world, and a growing number of them come from Africa,” Aidan Baigrie, Facebook’s Client Partner for sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview with Strategic Marketing Africa’, the publication of the African Marketing Confederation, earlier this year. “In the larger African countries we have attracted a number of big financial services, media and retail brands as customers. But we are also seeing many small- and medium-sized businesses use Facebook as a key channel to build their businesses.”
In tandem with its efforts to attract more advertisers based on the continent, the social media platform is also working to continue building the number of individual users it has in Africa. One of its major initiatives is ‘Internet.org’, which provides basic, free Internet access via a mobile app. The app is now available in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, with plans to extend its reach to other local markets.
Programmatic buying of online advertisements is becoming big business as marketers work to drive more value from their ad spending and to leverage customer data more effectively. While still in its infancy in South Africa, it is a trend that seems set for lift-off, predicts Andre Steenkamp, CEO of local digital agency 25AM.
He says the media buying tool has been available in the country for three or four years, but it's only now that local marketers and their agencies are beginning to pay attention. Drivers for adoption include a need for brands to make their advertising spending work harder and a growing focus on data-driven, customer-centric marketing.
Online video is the second-fastest growing advertising medium after mobile, according to BI Intelligence, the research service of New York-based business and technology news website 'Business Insider'. With an ever-increasing base of online video viewers across the world, it's easy to see why marketers are embracing video. But what is the situation in Africa?
Given that experts are forecasting an unprecedented 19,5% three-year compound annual estimated growth rate in video advertising income through to 2016, and with news from market research company E-marketer that digital will make up more than 25% of total ad expenditure in 2015, the increasing prevalence of online video is clear.
More than half of all Internet-based display advertisements served by Google are not being seen by online consumers, according to research findings released by the company late last week.
“With the advancement of new technologies we now know that many display ads that are served never actually have the opportunity to be seen by a user,” Google’s Group Product Manager, Sanaz Ahari, said.
The research was conducted in October and analysed data from a wide array of global online publishers, ranging from small blogs through to national newspapers. It looked specifically at display ads across Google’s Display Network (GDN), DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick ad Exchange. A future study will look at video and mobile-based ads.