BizRadio chats to Marcus Stephens, GM of MSN Sub-Saharan Africa firstly about his personal journey in the industry and then we tackle the issue of what brands are actually paying for when they buy space in print publications.
Marcus Stephens in conversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
South African media buyers and advertisers should think carefully about what it is that they are paying for when they place an ad in a print publication based on its audited circulation figures or All Media & Products Survey (AMPS) statistics. That’s the word from Marcus Stephens, GM of Howzit MSN which operates the local version of Microsoft’s MSN portal in South Africa. He says that many advertisers make the mistake of paying a premium for the publication’s entire subscriber base, or even its claimed pass-on readership, when they are simply aiming to talk to a small sub-set of the audience.
“When you buy a placement in a magazine or newspaper, you’re effectively paying for the whole paper,” says Stephens. “You don’t have the granular data you need to decide whether the premium you are paying is justified by the audience you are reaching. This lack of flexibility is a major drawback in the print model.”
For example, a national Sunday newspaper will price its ads based on the assumption that it offers access to hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers. But how many of these readers turn to the Careers page or the Business section where an advertiser might place an ad? And how many of those actually do form part of the audience that the advertiser is trying to reach?
Stephens says that in many cases, advertisers might be paying for a mass reach that they don’t really need, rather than paying to access the people they want reach with their message. It is a wasteful approach in a market where marketers are expected to squeeze the maximum value out of every rand they spend.
This is one major advantage of digital, where advertisers can pay only for the people who have viewed their ad rather than everyone who has visited the portal, Stephens says. They can place ads in the motoring or entertainment section, knowing that they are addressing the audience they are seeking, and then they can track impressions, clickthroughs, conversions, and a range of other metrics to understand how well the combination of the creative, the publication and the placement are working.
Stephens says digital offers a blend of reach and targeting that makes it unique among the options that advertisers have. A study that Howzit MSN commission from Echo, indicates that the Internet may currently reach as many as 14,1 million adults in South Africa or 39% of the adult population.
This is a mass audience, comparable in size to print if not bigger, but with the benefit that it can be segmented and targeted more effectively and accurately. A growing appreciation of the flexibility and reach digital offers is one reason that digital spend is growing exponentially in South Africa, Stephens says.