Despite this shift to digital, many companies are still relying on traditional methods of advertising, as only two percent of the $550 million (Sh45,704,999,160)spent across the three major countries in East Africa for advertising last year, was spent on the digital media platform.
Speaking at the launch of the McKinsey and Company African Consumers Report, TBWA International Strategic Director Marie Jamieson emphasised the importance for companies to invest in digital marketing in order to give consumers a greater platform where they can interact and act as ambassadors for their favourite brands.
“ROI is the return on investment and also the return on the idea. The return on the idea really comes to the forefront in the digital world because that’s the extent to which your limited resources can be amplified by the consumers out there,” she revealed.
“It’s the extent to which they pass it on in the social media world so they become broadcasters on your behalf and media companies and advertisers have to learn how to change the tyre while the car is running,” she explained.
Jamieson noted that urban Internet penetration in Kenya is higher than in Brazil and India, while at par with China, but she acknowledged that companies remain hesitant to advertise on Digital media although measuring consumer statistics is faster and more accurate on the Internet than on traditional media platforms.
“In the digital world, consumer activity is imminently more measurable in real time than in traditional media,” she said.
“There’s a lag effect in traditional media whereas in the digital world you get real time measurements and metrics, which allow you to measure the hits, length and quality of consumer engagement,” she added.
She credited the large youth population in Africa to why the continent has been able to adapt so quickly and effectively to changes in digital media and urged companies to establish constant dialogues with young people in order to remain relevant in society.
“The burgeoning youth population on our continent means that we will be much quicker to adapt to the changes and you will see the pace of change happen at a much faster rate here than in any other continent in the world,” she said.
Jamieson noted that many international products are starting to be simultaneously released in Africa and abroad, showing how quickly the continent is catching up to the rest of the world.
“Digital media is a big driver of that and particularly in Kenya because the cost of bandwidth is so much lower than anywhere else on the continent. Kenya is really ahead of the curve and that’s really phenomenal,” she said.
TBWA Group CEO Derek Bouwer said that companies on social media should be aware of how much influence their customers can have on how their brands are viewed online.
“Consumers are much more involved in how a brand and product is shaped because their input is much more direct thanks to social media,” he stated.
“Companies can’t control the conversation anymore. Brands that have Facebook sites that take down negative comments are just making it worse on themselves because then they will take their complaints to other social networks like Twitter. They have to be transparent, open, honest and brave because they have to be willing to let consumers take control of their brands for them,” he emphasised.
Director of Africa Operations at TBWA South Africa Rick De Kock said that they have been excited to see local Kenyan companies making use of digital media in order to expand their presence across the country.
“We’re starting to see, not just international brands coming into Africa, but also local Kenyan brands such as Nakumatt looking to expand into central and southern Africa,” he asserted.
“Consumers will continue to shape the message of brands using digital media, so companies need to understand that they can’t control the message completely, but they can make it their objective to influence what consumers say about their brands as much as possible,” he added.