3 Market Forces That Are Driving Digital Advertising Adoption In Kenya


3 Market Forces That Are Driving Digital Advertising Adoption In Kenya

Over the last few years, digital advertising as we know it has really taken off in Kenya. Its almost NOT possible to encounter a pre-roll YouTube Ad or Google Ad when your browsing both local and international websites, or using a mobile app. At the same time, Facebook, that behemoth of social media that has close to 5 million users in Kenya (and growing) is probably one of the easiest places to run a digital ad campaign in a matter of minutes and with a tiny budget of a few dollars a day that actually delivers customers. Facebook ads for businesses that run the whole gamut demonstrates that digital advertising has most certainly arrived in the 254.

However, for all its new found fame and glory, it would appear that there are other underlying forces that are driving the digital advertising tsunami in Kenya. Indeed, it was only a few short years ago at Dotsavvy that we found it super challenging to get our customers to invest in digital advertising when the tried and proven media of TV, Radio, Outdoor and Print Ads mopped up every ad shilling that was out there. Things have most certainly changed even though recent numbers from Google suggest that only 4% of media spend in Kenya goes to digital with the rest going to mostly traditional media even though 22% (and growing) of media consumption time is on digital.

Having been in digital for over a decade, Dotsavvy decided to look deeper at what could be the underlying factors behind the gradual but consistently growing bias towards digital advertising. Surely, knowing how old school media planners over time have been averse to digital advertising this is not simply a matter of choice – its a matter circumstances beyond their control. Having done the research, we seem to have found the three things that could be driving digital advertising adoption in Kenya:

Decimated Advertising Budgets

Unless you have been living under a pretty large rock, marketing budgets are under siege as Kenyan businesses look for a solid return on investment (RoI) that will yield significant bottom-line impact. That golden elusive ROI is really putting marketers on their back heels and yet they are required to deliver, deliver, deliver! The good old days of ‘spray and pray’ advertising are over. Advertising, in Kenya, like never before, MUST deliver the goods using ever smaller marketing budgets. Miracles are happening.

Digital advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook have a ridiculous amount of data-driven insights that can validate digital advertising efforts since they offer high levels of transparency around what is working and not working. From this perspective, the C-Level Suite fully expects their marketing teams to harness digital advertising opportunities even though marketing budgets are getting hammered on a regular basis. This is essentially not a choice – its a requirement to keep your job. Go digital or go home.

Peculiar Digital Consumers

We already know that Kenyan consumers are a peculiar lot, thanks to Safaricom’s former CEO Michael Joseph. Its probably one of the reasons why Kenya is the global leader when it comes to mobile money à la M-Pesa. Everyone else is flogging the mobile money horse to death but its only in Kenya where its actually running the full derby, again and again. From this point of view, we can gather that Kenyans for one thing are eager early adopters and generally try things first before other markets do in Africa. Thanks to the Internet, the Kenyan consumer is also as well-informed as they are peculiar.

Advertising in Kenya is some of the most sophisticated in Africa even in the context of traditional media – just look at how many International awards Kenyan Agencies regularly win. To cut to the chase, its no longer business as usual as Kenyan consumers live on social media where brands get brutally hammered, everyday. They are well-informed and super fickle – just ask Kenya Power and Safaricom. Therefore, digital advertising has become essential to maintaining brand currency by ‘fishing where the fish are’. Brands that fail to connect & resonate with consumers will become ‘the walking dead’ on digital in Kenya.

Mobile-First Everything

Its fairly basic. Mobile-first everything is how Kenya rolls. Kenya has massive mobile penetration and the majority of Internet access is mobile. Safaricom recently confirmed that close to 5 million of their mobile subscribers are on smartphones – and growing – as is 3G and 4G uptake. This is not a flash in the pan. Kenya is really mobile-first in every sense. What makes matters even more interesting is that the convergence of inexpensive Android smartphones and affordable broadband mobile Internet is driving digital media consumption, and especially social media, with traditional media is being supplanted in the process.

Consider when Safaricom revised the pricing of their data bundles earlier this year? 1GB used to cost Kes. 1,000.00 and now you get 3GB for the same price. Its the reason why the majority of people we know (including ourselves) have essentially ditched SMS in favour of Instant Messaging on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This is not going away. True to form, digital advertising gets even more interesting on mobile since you can designate campaigns to target mobile device characteristics (e.g. only iPhones and iPads) – this means you can decide to target demographic profiles (based on mobile devices being used) which would ensure better targeting and ultimately sales conversions . Easy. Peasy.




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