SA lags in online marketing

2013-07-24 14:40
Internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - South African marketers are lagging behind their European counterparts when it comes to online spending, but there is no guaranteed solution, an industry player has said.

With the growth of consumers online both on the traditional internet as well as mobile applications, companies in Europe have followed users online, but in SA, the move to online marketing has been slower.

"Even after allowing for the fact that a smaller proportion of South Africa’s population has internet access compared with countries such as the US, the allocation to digital is still conspicuously low," Grant Shippey, CEO of Amorphous told News24.

An eMarketer study showed that US firms spent about 35% of their marketing budget on online properties, but in SA, the number was much lower at around 2%.

Shippey, though, said that despite the runaway success of social media platforms like Facebook and even local company Mxit, there was no guaranteed avenue for online marketing success.

User engagement

"No. There is no one golden bullet. Each campaign and brand requires an individual strategy balancing elements of search, display, mobile; social to reach its goals," he said.

Many companies employ Facebook pages as part of their online marketing exposure, but have discovered that they cannot control the conversation that may negatively impact on their brands in social media.

Some have said that web ads, as an example, are not effective because of their lack of user engagement and that the relatively new technology of HTML 5 could significantly increase user engagement with online marketing.

Shippey was cautious on the issue of HTML 5 technology, and said that it was more a question of the use on the online medium.

"HTML 5 does offer broader device reach, but basically anything you could do it Flash you can do in HTML 5. Technology is not the inhibitor or enabler but rather an appropriate/inappropriate use of the medium."

Internet giant Google recently change its AdWords product to support what it calls "Enhanced Campaigns". These will essentially ensure specific targeting of devices and locally for online marketing.

While it is acknowledged that digital marketing can give a company instant feedback of the effective reach, Shippey argued that South African companies exercised ignorance at their own peril.

"There are over nine million connected people in this country The Apple app store is over five years old… How are brands using these mediums effectively and efficiently? Ignorance can be blissful, but dangerous."

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