There are a number of factors which make the digital landscape in South Africa challenging to marketers. In this post, we discuss a few of the predicted trends that are expected to increase in popularity.

The rise of mobile marketing

It comes as no surprise that the mobile market is staggeringly large in South Africa, with nearly 80% of South Africans subscribing to a mobile service provider.

According to a Mobile Market Report published by Effective Measure in February 2016: “84% of respondents have knowingly accessed the internet on their devices in the last 24 hours” with the most common uses being social media, instant messaging, email, and search. As users get more tech savy businesses must adapt even more to the rising popularity of social media and accommodate for a wider, more tech-savvy audience.

App developers are becoming more in demand as businesses need platforms to communicate with their customers and to provide an up-to-date space for all information the customer could possibly need. While most established companies already have an app and/or a mobile-friendly website, these platforms require constant maintenance and updating.


of the South African population is subscribed to a mobile service provider


of the South African population have accessed the internet in the past 24 hours

Extreme targeting

It’s surprising how much useful information you provide with just a few simple questions. Take your Facebook profile for example.  On Facebook you provide information about your demographic, interests, searches, social spheres etc. To show consumers more relevant ads, behavioral targeting harnesses information collected from an individual’s internet-browsing behavior. As this technology improves, businesses must tailor their content for a specific audience most likely to be interested in their product/service (based on the consumers previous interests and searches). To maximize the success of a marketing campaign, marketers will attempt to target the market they believe will provide the best results for a specific campaign. This will extend further than simple information such as demographic/geographic towards targeting users based on their predicted needs.

Let’s take a look at ‘Joe Soap’. From the breadcrumbs he left behind on his internet activity (Twitter posts, business activity, public Facebook posts etc.) we can see that Joe likes cars. Previous history showed that he purchased a new vehicle every 2 years or so and he has a new position at a large corporation. It has been almost 2 years since Joe has last posted anything about a new car, but he has shown an interest in a few new models. Let’s categorize him into ‘car sale leads’ and provide more promotional car sale advertisements to what he sees on the platforms he engages with. Now, I’m not saying we possess algorithms this complex to efficiently target consumers, but we are nearing this stage. AdRoll has developed a sophisticated prediction engine (AdRoll Prospecting), currently in beta, that tries to provide relevant ads to users in real-time as they need something. Currently, Facebook uses a myriad of information to make sure their ads are targeted to the right audience, but I believe it’s only going to get better in the near future.

Extreme Targeting Digital Marketing Target Market Darts Pie chart strategy campaign success business KPI

Like the rest of the world, extreme targeting and behavioral profiling will continue to rise. This also presents a problem for buyers as they become more aware of just how much personal data is collected from them by businesses. Therefore it is likely that we will see a growth of legislation protecting consumers, as well as more transparency from brands about what kind of data they are collecting from consumers and why, in order to inspire trust from consumers. From the data collected in the Mobile Report by Effective Measure, users will click on ads if:

  • They trust the brand
  • They know that the link or content is ‘safe’

However, the main reason for users clicking on an ad is relevance. After all, why would you click on an ad for a product that you don’t need?

Increasing demand for creative practitioners in the digital sphere

There has, and hopefully will always be, increasing competition among brands. The demand for creative, original and quality content will continue to grow as competitors struggle to stand out from the crowd. This means that the demand for jobs such as copywriters and content creators will rise. In addition to this kind of content, we will also see an increase in the amount of user-generated content.

In our fast-paced digital world, the need to be innovative and creative in business has become crucial to success. An interesting article from the Harvard Business Review has stated that The MFA (Master of Fine Art) is the new MBA (Master of Business Administration). In the article, the author lists 4 things that an MBA graduate might learn from a MFA graduate, namely:

  1. How to take criticism
  2. An understanding of what motivates people
  3. How to engage your audience
  4. When to let go of ideas

Competitive data service provider prices

As the demand for data continues to rise, we will see the demand for affordable data providers increase. Therefore, it is likely to see increasing competition among telecom providers, and perhaps some new Internet Service Providers (ISP) on the scene hoping to provide similar services for more competitive prices.

Afrihost, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) in South Africa, has just recently ended their “DSL Broadband for R1 this September” promotional marketing campaign. The campaign sprouted after much controversy circulated Telkom’s new uncapped LTE package. According to the consumers, Telkom reportedly updated their Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP) without an acceptable notice period to existing customers stating that users would be throttled after reaching a specific data usage mark. A quick response by Afrihost undoubtedly yielded impressive results and increased their market share significantly. However, this demonstrates how important it is to remain transparent with your consumers and how users are demanding more affordable data plans.

The rise of culture relevancy

It’s very hard to have an opinion these days without inadvertently offending someone. If something gains enough popularity, there will undoubtedly be a few people that don’t agree with the subject matter or they will find your approach, tone, or content offensive. In the ever-difficult efforts to be liked and accepted by the largest possible audience, cultural sensitivity is highly important. However, it is easier for something to gain traction on the internet if it’s at least slightly controversial. Luckily, there will always be someone that finds your subject matter controversial/offensive. Don’t worry about mentioning it, though, because they will gladly point it out for you 🙂

Cultural relevancy will also continue to rise in our increasingly globalized world. Campaigns have become more racially inclusive, and thus the future of digital marketing will see a challenge for marketers to be culturally conscious and sensitive.

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