Economic slump upsets the cart

The rising interest rates, petrol prices and tightening budgets worldwide are impacting on our local economy. Now businesses are moving toward more efficient and cost-effective ways of marketing. International online companies are seeing the potential in South Africa's online industry, striking deals with local online marketing companies to ensure that the right advertising is placed on the right websites.

South Africa has experienced a boom in online usage over the last two years, according to the Online Publishers Association of South Africa (OPA). 7.8 million unique users were recorded at the end of 2007, showing a growth of 163% in internet use in South Africa from 2006. It seems natural that marketers take note of the web as a potential space to advertise.

Will Green, Managing Director of Apurimac Media, representing brands such as Yahoo, My Space, SKY, Teamtalk and CNN, comments, " Online users are choosing the adverts and messages they want. This is a huge change from the passive consumer that traditional advertising reaches. These consumers can choose to interact with your ad by clicking on it. So advertisers need to shift the way they are thinking when it comes to the consumers they are reaching. Gone are the days when you talk to your audience, now it's all about talking with your audience"

With 1.2 million South African users, online giant Yahoo! has recognised the growing market in South Africa. Consequently, they have entered into an agreement with a Apurimac Media - a local online marketing company - to act as the reseller for Yahoo!'s local advertising inventory. This will help expand Yahoo's presence into the South African market. The two companies will work together to satisfy a growing demand for online products and services on the African continent.

The development costs and turnaround time of online advertising are substantially lower than what companies would expect to spend on an advert in a traditional media form. From banner advertisements, search engine optimisation (SEO), video clips, viral e-marketing and endless other opportunities, online advertising is both versatile, reliable and highly measurable. 

Online advertising extends beyond simply getting a message out into the dark abyss of the web. Green outlines how response to an advert can be tracked, "We can choose what group we want to target, such as males between the age of 18-34 and measure what each person did. Also, we can measure and target when they saw the ad (times by day, days per week) and if they interacted with it, whether they made a purchase, how long they viewed the video and if they replayed it. Also if they saw the ad and logged offline and then typed the advertiser's website address, we can count that too."

The growth of internet use in South Africa to almost 8 million users at the end of 2007 is a good indication of the likely success of online advertising in this country. Companies need to begin catching up to their fast-digitising target markets. As South Africans increase their online use, so advertisers should begin taking notice of the possibilities of advertising on the net.

Marc Hershowitz