4 Reasons Why Advertising Agencies In Kenya Are Failing At Digital


4 Reasons Why Advertising Agencies In Kenya Are Failing At Digital

Over the past 5 years or so, the majority of advertising agencies in Kenya have adopted the ‘digital’ moniker and now offer a myriad of digital services to their clients. This is a good thing since it was inevitable that the market would see a substantial shift to digital which had the ability to transform their marketing efforts with the diminishing returns on traditional advertising’s ‘spray and pray’ approach coming under immense scrutiny.

However, on closer inspection, one finds that Kenya’s advertising agencies are failing to take full advantage of all the inherent benefits that digital has to offer. Sadly, considering most of the big name advertising agencies still control the biggest brands and by extension the biggest marketing budgets this is not an ideal state of affairs. Delving deeper, here are the underlying reasons why many advertising agencies in Kenya are failing at digital:

They treat digital as a monologue marketing channel instead of an interactive one

Digital is often treated as simply a marketing channel by many advertising agencies when in fact it is so much more. You often hear digital being discussed as one of the ‘places’ where promotional campaigns will be run in the same vein as TV, radio, outdoor, etc. Whilst its possible to create digital advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook for instance that approximate an advertising campaign on traditional media, digital offers the opportunity to leverage interactivity. A classic case of this phenomena is that social media for instance is all about consumers driving brand conversations and NOT the brands themselves.

This presents a compelling opportunity for brands to ‘mix it up’ when it comes to digital campaigns whereby they can engage with their stakeholders instead of using a monologue approach as is normally the case for traditional media. Another analogue to digital opportunity is using traditional media to drive traffic to branded digital platforms. Taken a step further, traditional campaigns can use trackable and unique URLs to determine how many people went to a digital destination as a result of traditional media placements. The opportunities for digital are almost endless in redefining what a truly progressive and innovative advertising campaign can be – even right here in Kenya.

They approach digital with an analogue mindset

Many advertising agencies in Kenya still approach brand advertising with a traditional marketing mindset. This means that they are thinking TV ads, print ads, radio ads and billboards FIRST for brand campaigns BEFORE they think about the digital execution. Quite frankly this is an outmoded approach when over half of the population in Kenya is online according to the Communications Authority of Kenya as of 2015.

This means that there is a very real opportunity for advertising agencies in Kenya to create campaigns that could start digital and then permeate other media channels. It also means that the same campaigns could offer something new and novel that gives brands an opportunity to stand out from the tried and proven so as to be more memorable? This is a formula that has worked wonders for brands in markets like the US and Europe with a seriously positive impact on the bottomline. Its time for Kenya’s advertising agencies to start making digital front and centre of their brand campaigns going forward.

Most of them are digitally illiterate

One of the most poignant aspects of many advertising agencies in Kenya is that many are actually digitally illiterate. This means that even though they have slapped on ‘digital’ to their value propositions, this is more of a marketing tactic than a service that can be delivered competently. Being digitally literate requires agency teams to become certified and have experience in all sorts of things that are needed for digital campaigns to be successful. It means knowing things like how many sales conversions were achieved from a digital campaign and by extension what the return on investment or ROI was.

This is one of the most valuable aspects about digital in that there is a very high degree of accountability and traceability in terms of what worked and did not work. Most traditional medias do not have anything near the level of value attribution that digital offers and yet the majority of advertising agencies in Kenya are seemingly(?) challenged in this respect. Many are still running traditional campaigns that yield ‘brand awareness’ but are incapable of offering the most important metrics behind a digital campaign’s success such as sales revenues achieved!

They don’t understand how technology works in digital

The majority of advertising agencies in Kenya do not understand how the technology behind highly effective digital actually works. This is more than slapping together banner ads and placing them on Google or Facebook, obviously. This means being able to delve into lots and lots of data before even starting a digital campaign. It means understanding how data analytics work so that a digital campaign can actually deliver greater value (read, sales) with an even smaller budget. Its no wonder that the data scientist role has become one of the hottest in the marketing industry these days globally as brands move towards a data-driven model of business.

A best practice approach to digital these days requires that a campaign has technologies like marketing automation and customer relationship management or CRM tightly integrated into the execution. This enables unbelievably accurate levels of insights in understanding customers digital journeys throughout digital campaigns so that one can ‘nuture’ them over time towards the sale. This also means that advertising agencies have to work with techies to make it possible for tight integrations with core business systems. Quite frankly, we don’t see this sort of thing really happening in Kenya yet and advertising agencies will have to go this route if they are to make digital work for their clients.

  • Nthiga
    October 7, 2016

    It is time for a the liberalization of advertising in Kenya.The major advertising agents need to be shocked out of their complacency by new innovative upstarts.

  • Ali
    October 27, 2016

    Good read. Can I repost this on my blog?


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