The mobile sector in African countries
is growing rapidly. Consumers don’t need smartphones to access bank accounts,
send money or even get medical advice, since these services are more available
through regular cell phone networks. Consequently, a market for mobile
advertising via text message and other means has been developing fast –
especially in a place where households may be more likely to have a cell phone
than a computer.
Research from Gartner shows that the
global market for mobile advertising will reach $18 billion in 2014, and grow
to $41.9 billion just three years later. Though Africa represents a small
section of this, the growth rate will be startling. “Africa is a mobile-first
continent,” said Candice Goodman, chair of the Mobile Marketing Association of
South Africa, to the The Financial Mail. “The
market here is very different to other continents and the challenges we face,”
According to a report from research firm Informa Telecoms and Media, African
telecom firms specifically will generate $1.3 billion in advertising revenue by
2016 through ads in text messages, mobile apps and downloads. As of June 2013,
there were 778 million mobile subscribers on the continent. “Mobile advertising is not a big component of
total advertising in Africa, but it’s really going to spur this year,” said
Yaron Assabi, founder of Digital Solutions Group, an online media firm, to CNBC Africa on Monday. He
explained that since many consumers don’t have household computers, the most
valuable digital advertising will come through their cell phones. “Mobile has
the highest reach,” he said. “It’s almost as if Africa’s leap frogging
across the Internet through their mobile device because we didn’t have personal
computers and desktops proliferation like the rest of the world,” he said,
adding that these advertisers have the added benefit of knowing a person’s
location, which will help them with consumer research and target content
accordingly – unlike with television or traditional online ads. Experts are urging companies to start focusing
on this kind of marketing in the future. Most businesses opt to spend budgets on
traditional desktop-focused campaigns and not enough attention is paid to the
mobile market,” said Ross Hellinger, sales and marketing head at Incubeta, a
South African media company, to The Financial Mail.
There are just a few major mobile advertising
companies acting on the continent, but more will surely follow.
For example, TwinPine is a Nigerian startup
that launched in 2011 and already has partnerships with Nokia, Google and
Pepsi, along with other local companies.
Last week, the company announced a new
partnership with MTN Nigeria to provide advertisers a chance to serve content
through “MTN Play,” the telecommunication company’s mobile portal.
“Being an indigenous mobile advertising
network, we have the advantage in that we understand the local market and can
better help brands to reach their target audiences,” said Elo Umeh, TwinPine’s
managing director, to ITNews Africa.
For instance, more than 74 percent of
TwinPine’s mobile advertisements are on feature phones, not smartphones, which
are more common and affordable for average consumers.
Last year, the company reported it surpassed
its own target for monthly “impressions,” reaching minimum of 500 million ad
“Our successes in our first year of operation
are testament to our bespoke approach to mobile ad campaigns,” said founder Elo
Umeh to HumanIPO, adding
that they sought to enable publishers to increase converstion rates and “make
the most of mobile.”