Sustaining Africa’s Digital Presence

Digital Switch-over

Having pioneered digital marketing and advertising, Google has promised to maintain the surge through right policy implementation, writes Emma Okonji

The first clickable web advert was sold in 1993 and in 2000, Google launched its Adwords. In 2017 Google launched Shopping Ads, which show the customer a picture of the item, its price and the store name. Customers who click on the ad will be directed to the website where they can buy that item.

Since then, digital advertising has enjoyed immense growth in Africa and beyond, giving rise to increased online presence and internet usage in Africa through mobile devices, the predominant means of internet connectivity.
Recent statistics released by Google showed that internet access is increasing annually in Africa. According to the statistics, between 2014 and 2017 mobile internet access in Kenya increased from 45 per cent to 53 per cent, while South Africa grew from 48 per cent to 65 per cent just as Nigeria increased in internet access from 62 per cent to 63 per cent.

With the predominance of mobile internet in Africa, the share of online searches conducted on smartphones by Google in fourth quarter (Q4) 2017, shows that Nigeria leads in online search by 86 per cent, Kenya 81 per cent and South Africa 67 per cent.
Mobile searches of where to buy products have increased 140 per cent over the past year in Kenya, according to Google data.
Same day shipping searches have doubled and there has been 150 per cent increase in travel searches and a threefold increase in ‘open now’ searches between 2015 and 2017, according to internal Google United States data.
Globally, the revenue from internet advertising exceeded that from TV advertising for the first time in 2016, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report.
The total internet advertising market worth in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa is estimated to reach $1 billion by 2020, up from an estimated $647 million in 2017.
Recent research shows that 65 per cent of Nigerian internet users shop online, as do 70 per cent of South African and 60 per cent of Kenyan internet users, according to Insidify data.
Google Search, Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Android and Play have over one billion users each as at December 2017. And all these are signs of great potential for the entire digital marketing ecosystem which Google is promoting through the Google Display Ad Network.

Google’s drive for digital marketing
In technical parlance, digital marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, which also include mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
Over the years, the business of digital marketing has grown so big such that digital experts have predicted that the revenue from internet advertising alone, would continue to exceed that from TV advertising, going forward.
Little wonder it was estimated that the total internet advertising market worth in Africa, Nigeria inclusive, would surpass the $1 billion mark by 2020.

The Group General Manager, Hitch Digital, Nicky van der Meulen, spoke recently on how Google is enhancing the growth of digital marketing across globe, using its Google Display Ad Network in ensuring that advertisers in the digital market ecosystem are able to meet their target audience, introduce advertisers to multiple websites and widen their reach within the entire digital marketing ecosystem, which is made up of advertisers, publishers, agencies and the target audience.
Van der Meulen, however, stressed the importance of availability of local data across African countries, to drive digital marketing.

Local data for digital marketing

Stressing the need for local data in boosting digital marketing in Africa, Meulen said lack of local data and the ignorance of commercialising local data owned by some individual and organisations, have always remain a major challenge for digital marketing in Africa.
She called on African governments to ensure that African countries are able to generate local data for digital marketing, instead of relying on global data that is region specific.

Citing big telecoms company operating in Africa with huge data, Meulen said such organisations could afford to release some of the general data without jeopardising their operations. She said when data is freely released for commercial purpose, it would address a whole lot of sharp practices in the system and also avoid unnecessary competition and market rivals that often lead to stealing of ideas that are not originally owned by individuals or organisations that are in possession of such ideas.

Google’s ad policies, enforcement
In order to create a level playing ground for all members of the digital marketing ecosystem, and to maintain the rise in online presence, Google has introduced lots of solutions that will further help in driving digital marketing in specific countries of the world.
My Account, for example, gives people quick access to settings and tools for managing their Google experience on products, including ads settings. My Account was built in Munich, launched in 2015, and has seen over one billion visits since it was launched.

In maintaining a healthy business relationship among members of the digital marketing ecosystem, Google introduced some policies and followed them up with strict implementation.
Google, for instance, took down 1.7 billion ads for violating its advertising policies in 2016. The figure is more than double the amount of bad ads taken down in 2015.
Google promised to publish 2017 numbers in early 2018.
In order to ensure full compliance, Google, in 2016, removed over 100 000 publishers from AdSense, and only approved about 12 per cent of publishers who apply for AdSense.
Head of Ads PR, EMEA, Google, Jenn Kaiser, said policy implementation is key to controlling bad ads on the Googie Display Network Ad.
Kaiser insisted that Google advertising policies are designed to promote good experience for people viewing ads, to help advertisers be successful and to help make sure that ads follow applicable laws in the countries where they appear.

In February last year, PageFair released its 2017 adblock report, titled: ‘The state of the blocked web.’ The report reveals that mobile adblock usage is growing explosively in Asia and is set to spread to North America and Europe as well. According to the report, Ad blocker usage grew by 30 per cent in 2016 and also includes the results of adblock users.

Brand visibility, safety
The bottom line for policy implementation is about brand visibility and safety. Presenting a paper on the evolution of digital advertising recently, the Country Manager, Google Kenya, Mr. Charles Murito, said customer presence online is fast increasing, especially in Africa. He therefore advised brands to move swiftly with consumer online growth in order to provide the right contents for the customers. Citing Pragmatic marketing, which is an enhanced technology that allows the entire digital marketing ecosystem to reach their audience much faster, Murito attributed the growth in online presence among African countries on the availability and affordability of mobile devices, occasioned by the fact that Africans are majorly mobile dependent people.

He, however, said the number could grow faster than that if the cost of mobile broadband data is drastically reduced. He said South Africa still have the highest rate of mobile broadband data in Africa, which is put at $7.6 per gigabyte, followed by Kenya at $4.9 per gigabyte and Nigeria at $3.1 gigabyte. He said Tanzania and Ghana operate at $2.3 per gigabyte each, while Egypt has the lowest rate of mobile broadband data at $1.2 per gigabyte.

In March 2017, Google announced increased brand safety levels and controls for advertisers. In January this year, it announced greater control for users with new features in Ad Settings, including the ability to mute reminder ads.
In March 2017, Google expanded its inappropriate content policy to include dangerous and derogatory content.

The Coalition for Better Ads announced their initial Better Ads Standards in March 2017. These are industry standards developed by the coalition, of which Google is a member. The standards are based on consumer research into what types of ads experiences users find most annoying.

YouTube and brands

YouTube, one of Google’s advertising tools, has over 1.5 billion monthly logged in users and every day, people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views. Africans are spending more and more time on YouTube – presenting more opportunity for marketers to reach them there.
Watchtime on YouTube over the past 12 months has increased 120 per cent year on year in Nigeria, 110 per cent year on year in Kenya and 90 per cent year on year in South Africa.
The greatest impact for brands in terms of ad recall and brand awareness are seen in the first 6 – 15 seconds of an advert, according to Google data.

Online video is growing at the speed of light. Cisco predicts that by 2020, 90 per cent of internet traffic will be video. YouTube is at the heart of this transformation, driving around 50 per cent of online video viewing today.

Agency Relationship Manager, YouTube South Africa, Jonathan Andrews, said 400 hours of content are uploaded on YouTube every minute and that creators applying to the YouTube Partner Programme need to have accrued 4000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and have 1000 subscribers to be eligible to earn revenue from their channels.