Online marketing - not spam, warns agency

2013-10-21 13:05
Spam has increased slightly, research by a security firm has found. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Spam has increased slightly, research by a security firm has found. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Online marketing offers companies the opportunity to mine for user information, but brands should take note not to spam users, a digital agency has warned.

"There's definitely a fine line between what is considered spam and online marketing. We've got to be careful that we don't put information out there that bombards users," Morgan Goddard, co-founder and head of digital strategy at Maven Agency told News24.

As the digital ecosystem grows in South Africa, more brands see the medium as a marketing avenue.

But marketing gurus warned that spending on digital online marketing would have to be justified by reach and audience engagement.

"Like any other medium by performance ie reach and effectiveness," Grant Shippey, CEO of Amorphous told News24 about the need for online marketing spend.


However, he said that there was tension between traditional and new media marketing planners.

"I believe there to be a divide between planners of traditional versus digital media. As long as this chasm exits business won't be able to capitalise effectively."

Traditional media campaigns generally rely on vague metrics implied in the medium chosen, but online channels present the advantage of accurate measurement of engagement.

"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," said SpaceStation CEO Gustav Goosen.

Unilever launched its Axe brand activation with an online campaign that saw a healthy return for the company.

"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," said Axe South Africa brand manager Vincent Viviers.

Several companies, in trying to race toward an online base, have resorted to sending spam via e-mail, text or social media channels.



Goddard acknowledged that multiple channels were more useful for marketers, but warned against overreach.

"By doing the correct marketing in the right channels - depending on the channel you're using - will ensure that you're not spamming as much as you are engaging by advertising relevance. I think that's quite important.

"Some marketing strategies out there can be considered as spam," he added.

With over 50 million SIM cards in operation in SA, the sending of SMS has emerged as a usable marketing strategy, but can be offensive if users have not requested the information.

"There's no reason why you should receive an SMS out of the blue, directly to your phone - that's pretty invasive if you haven't actually asked for that information," said Goddard.

The Protection of Personal Information (Popi) bill is expected to become law this year and requires that companies handle user data with sensitivity.

Maven Agency said that it is critical that even if customers have requested marketing information, there should be clear ways to unsubscribe.

"You as the consumer need to have the opportunity to unsubscribe: That is essential at the very least if you're getting spam," said Dawie Harmse co-founder and head of technology at Maven Agency.

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

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