Online marketing a key strategy - industry experts

2013-10-14 14:00
This is a model of the space ship that will transport the astronauts to low Earth orbit. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

This is a model of the space ship that will transport the astronauts to low Earth orbit. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Online marketing is a growing trend in South Africa, despite low numbers compared to traditional mediums, industry players agree.

"Marketing money follows the audience.  More audience delivered and the more time spend, will see more budget allocated.
Audience reach is now at the level where marketers ignore the medium at their peril," SpaceStation CEO Gustav Goosen told News24.

SpaceStation is a digital agency owned by Naspers and Goosen said that digital mediums had the ability to deliver effective metrics for advertisers, as opposed to traditional marketing platforms.

"Measurement of traditional media efficacy is costly, time consuming and definitely not immediate. Digital efficacy can be measured immediately and can be tailored to clients’ needs and wallets," he said.

One company that has used digital advertising to build a campaign is Unilever.


Through its online marketing philosophy, the multinational has driven brand activation of its Axe Apollo campaign that will see at least one South African become an astronaut.

"Online marketing has become a key focus for brands globally, and we are seeing an exponential growth of this channel in South Africa too," Axe South Africa brand manager Vincent Viviers told News24.

"With the Axe Apollo campaign, we have had our greatest response ever for any competition Axe has held in South Africa, showing the growing importance of this channel as a means to talk to our consumers," he added.

The final three South Africans who will head to the US are Mandla Maskeko, Haroon Osman and Dean Roddan and they were chosen after an extensive campaign that included elements from social media marketing and online activations.

Viviers said that the audience in SA is maturing, though the potential market size is huge as many cellphone users yet have to fully exploit data services and a larger percentage have not yet moved on to smartphones.

"Looking at social media as an example, most big brands in South Africa now have Facebook and Twitter accounts, with fast growing numbers of 'fans'. Axe South Africa has over 300 000 fans who interact with us on a daily basis on Facebook, Twitter and web or mobi."



Accurate, independent figures for smartphone penetration is SA is unclear, but estimates range from 8% to 24%. Research though, indicates that the adoption trend for the devices is upward, and that dumb phones are on the decline.

An inMobi survey conducted in 2012 showed that BlackBerry devices command 50% of the smartphone market in SA, followed by Nokia at 25% and Samsung (17%).

For the Unilever in its Axe campaign, the potential of the online market has not gone unnoticed.

"But the number is still low versus the potential market size. We're definitely still a growing market, with increasing smartphone penetration leading to new online users every day. There is still a huge amount of growth in this area, which is very exciting to brands," said Viviers.

An additional benefit of an online audience is that the demographic of online users is significantly different to the offline environment.

"No - online is definitely a younger, higher LSM audience versus other mediums," Viviers answered sharply. "However, this closely mirrors our core target market as Axe, which is why we really focus on online as a key media channel to engage with our target market."

He added that the online conversations of the Axe campaign had significant positive spin-offs for the brand.

"In terms of online reach and PR [public relations], we have received a huge amount of earned PR from this campaign, showing a great return on investment from what we have invested."

News24 is part of, a subsidiary of Media24, which is in the Naspers stable. SpaceStation is a subsidiary of Naspers.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    unilever  |  e-commerce  |  mobile

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