Inside the inaugural FutureAD conference

The panel discussion, Digital revolution in Africa tied to the success of mobile?, at the FutureAD conference

“More conversations, less ads” – this was the key message delivered to marketing professionals who gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre for the FutureAD Africa conference.

At the two-day conference, held on 14 and 15 March 2018, Africa’s marketing and advertising industry was the topic of conversation as various industry leaders presented their ideas, insights and innovations on the new era of television advertising and digital media, and what this all means for the future of brands, agencies and publishers.

The event unfolded as a sequence of panel discussions and presentations with key industry players all agreeing that understanding and acknowledging your customer is the key to any successful business.

Philbert Julai, marketing manager at Barclays Kenya, shared on how people have now put more trust in their peers than what advertisers have to say. Julai stressed that advertisers need to evolve with their users in order to gain their trust and interest. “Brand loyalty is a long journey that requires checking customers’ engagement to the service or product,” Julai added.

In the one-on-one session with GeoPoll – one of Africa’s largest providers of data on audience size, share and ratings for TV, radio, and print – speakers Ricardo Lopes and Matt Angus-Hammond shared on how they conduct surveys from countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to determine which channels and platforms consumers use. Lopes expressed how important it is for advertisers to know how much people are buying, and why they are drawn to that specific product.

His partner and GeoPoll’s business development lead in Global Key Accounts and Custom Research, Angus-Hammond shared how the grim task of sending surveys via SMS, email and calling people provided key insights and immediate results on how the audience is viewing a particular brand. The end result is knowing your client’s specific likes and dislikes, and adapting the business to suit these needs which in turn helps businesses to save money by eliminating elements that are not beneficial to their audience.

CEO of HDI Youth Marketeers, Bongani Chinkanda was one of the headline speakers on the second day. In a presentation titled Digital revolution in Africa tied to the success of mobile?, Chinkanda explained that communicating with an audience in the standard and format that they wish to be engaged in, proved to be a more fruitful approach. Other speakers echoed Chinkanda’s statement, saying that the old format press statements and emailed releases needs to be revolutionised, but also warned practitioners to be wary not to lose the non-conforming bunch that is often left behind.

Speakers also cautioned against a one-way approach to campaigns: What works with a village in Kenya, may not necessarily work for a village in South Africa. However, there are some common grounds for certain basic services and products which resonate with anyone regardless of class or nationality.

Karabo Ganzini, strategist at Black River FC spoke about how the introduction of new methods of conversation can coexist in an ever-changing world. The old email method still works for her automobile business, she said, but it is subject to exclusivity.  Ganzini does this by sending emails to loyal customers based on their tailored needs and lifestyle choices. This approach can help boost the customer’s engagement with the brand, unlike the spam emails that everyone loves to hate. “Once you have someone loyal to your brand, especially if it’s a car brand; if you are giving them information that the rest of the consumers don’t know and you give it to them first, they tend to come back to your brand,” said Ganzini.

Coca-Cola, a globally recognised brand that has stood the test of time and evolving advertising dynamics, had Misikir Mulugeta Bekele, a senior brand manager from Ethiopia, share on how the brand has sustained itself.

In a Q&A with Dataxis, Bekele revealed, “I personally believe the most important thing is driving transaction (reaching as many consumers as possible), as loyalty in isolation won’t ensure a sustained and cheaper growth. As long as a product consistently delivers on its brand promise, then loyalty comes naturally.”

The first edition of FutureAD Africa was organised by Dataxis, a leading analyst house across converging telecoms, media and IT markets.

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Gezzy S. Sibisi is a senior journalist at Screen Africa. She is experienced in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan, and Daily Dispatch publications. As a freelancer, she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.


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