My (entirely satirical) predictions for digital in 2015

Without fail, around November we start to see “Marketing Analysts” provide the top trends they predict for the coming year. I see these “Analysts” using this platform for speaking gigs, further writing opportunities and general fame so I thought I would take some time out on a rainy Sunday and look into my crystal ball of future knowledge in order to tell you what to expect.

1) 2015 will be the year of the mobile

I know, I know we hear this every year but I’m telling you that 2015 is the year that mobile adoption is going to hit the mainstream. Smartphone’s will be everywhere and we can see the start of this with Vodacom selling a smartphone for a mere R549. Smartphone adoption in Africa is also going to grow; I know this because of the graph below:


2) Content, content, content

I can’t beat this drum enough: content is king. We all know your users wake up daily in order to find out exactly what you want to say to them. I can’t be more proud when a Community Manager asks users whether they’ll be having a “insert brand here-licious weekend?” or runs a Twitter “retweet” competition. In 2015 I see this growing more and more, with content focussing on questions that require users to favourite if they agree and retweet if they don’t.

In addition I see Content Marketing becoming a “thing” that’s spoken about in marketing departments. Whether it’s text, video or audio: everyone wants to hear about your brand. I have this picture of a funnel to fully explain my point when it comes to Content Marketing:



Trust me, I’m a “Market Analyst”

3) Integration is key

We’re seeing more and more digital agencies start to take the lead on large accounts and we’re seeing more and more traditional agencies buy digital agencies in order to compete. 2015 is the year we get digital agencies building hardware and I predict it’s time that these agencies focus on products rather than service. A perfect example of such integration is the brilliance of the “Dove – Real Beauty Sketches” campaign and how it merged online with traditional, above the line work. In case you’ve missed this video at every conference for the past two years I’ll help jog your memory:

4) Brands will expand into Africa

Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tanzania are all rife for the picking. If you see point 1 of my predictions you’ll see that smartphones are going to be massive in Africa. Whether it’s FMCG, Automotive or Financial services, Africa is no longer being seen as “that place with poor people and Ebola”. Many companies make the mistake of dividing Africa into West and East regions however it’s a waste to separate the two as Africa is not about differentiation but a place to make a quick buck.

Look, Africa can fit the US and China in it’s landmass:


5) 2015 is the year we finally get decent broadband in SA

Trust me, I’m an “Analyst”.


What’s in a technology name?

Technology names are tough, we’ve become so desensitised to names such as the “Huawei G590″ or the “Lenovo T410″ that we accept arb naming conventions. There’s the classic example of how Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late nineties and took their range from the likes of the “Quadra 700″ to the infinitely simpler “iBook”, “iMac”, “Powerbook” and “PowerMac”. Even though there were more than one product per range, you knew immediately which product was for you based on your computing requirements.

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Advertising wisdom from the legend, David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy is an advertising legend. Referred to as “The Father of Advertising” and was named by Time Magazine in 1962 as “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

This is the man who came up with the classic line “Only Dove is one-quarter moisturizing cream” and could be considered a real Don Draper. His pearls of wisdom are still relevant years after his death. Sit down and enjoy his 15 best philosophies:


Why are you still using traditional advertising?

I’ve noticed the new trend with billboards for cars is to put LED lights into the area on the car where the actual lights are. I had the pleasure to see this on the corner of William Nicol and Sandton Drive in Johannesburg as well as when you you get off the N3 highway by the Linksfield offramp. I’ve included an unrelated picture but imagine the lights on the picture actually glowing.



This costs a lot of money. To give you some costs a “cheap” billboard with a mere 20000 odd cars per day flow goes for R8,000 per month ex vat. In addition there is a production cost and this is only for a 3X6 meter billboard. I don’t know the exact cost for a full size billboard or one in prime locations but lets conservatively estimate it at R40,000 per month.

My point isn’t necessarily about the costs it’s about the complete stupidity of it all. I still daily get flyers for car services and other products. I’m not talking “Dr Shabangu’s penis enlargement” here, I’m talking proper businesses with franchises and physical properties.

Not only is it a lot of money but chances are your audience is checking their phones while waiting in traffic. Sure, it’s possibly a good branding exercise for something expensive like a car but ultimately it’s just that, people looking at your car. They have no info on the specs, the price or the competition. You could pretty much plaster your brand to every person on Facebook for the same price.

This isn’t the first nor the last blog post someone will write about the bizarre nature of traditional advertisers. However, I can’t help but wonder why a brand manager isn’t making an effort to diversify.


App store vanity URL’s aren’t going to help

While it’s great to have 800,000 apps in the iOS app store (and a similar amount in the Google Play store) it’s damn hard to find anything useful or really, really great.

Apple has now launched a new system using vanity URLs for app developers on its iPhone and iPad iOS platform. The URLs are linked after the address

Apple already has distinct URLs for its apps so that users can look up the details on a website, but the new system promises to be much easier to access from a consumer point of view simply because it’s more memorable. Apple recently revealed that there are over 800,000 apps on the iOS app store, so app discovery is a critical part of the business from a developer point of view.

We’ve got a problem here, a vanity URL might make it easier for a consumer to type into an address bar but it solves very little problem for developers that aren’t Rovio to get users to find their apps. There’s been a study that lowering prices helps to increase revenue and this might push you higher on the iTunes lists but again, you’ll need to give a lot of free or nearly free versions of your apps away to make any dent on the iTunes bestseller lists.

The problem is discoverability not accessibility and neither Apple nor Google have worked out what to do here. As an app developer you could get a major blogger to punt your app or put money into mobile advertising but this is time consuming or expensive.

The solution to the problem is technically fairly simple: take the Pandora approach. Pandora uses a music “genome” to tag a song based on almost 400 different criteria and characteristics. This could theoretically apply to apps as well: an automated engine goes through your current apps and makes recommendations based on similar apps or apps that other users with your apps have downloaded. Yes, iTunes Genius is supposed to do this but there seems very little logic or consistency in how the apps are recommended. When an app is submitted to the app store the person who handles the submission can easily add these tags manually based on a certain amount of criteria they have been given. These criteria can be something totally inane such as a game that can be played with one hand or a productivity app that allows you to highlight text with a red colour; the options are endless.

Until such time as apps are easier to discover I feel sorry for developers trying to make a living off apps.

The issue with digital media

This Sunday the Superbowl took place in America and for marketers it’s a massive excuse to spend copious amounts of money on half-time T.V. ads. Placing an ad costs $4 million, a lot of money regardless of how much it costs to create the ads. Lets ignore the production costs for a moment and focus on that $4 million figure. Digiday pointed out some interesting stats about what you can do with that kind of money:

Over 100 million video impressions on Hulu

According to media buyers, Hulu currently sells its video ad inventory at around a $30 CPM. Therefore: $4 million / $30 CPM = 130 million impressions


Twitter’s Promoted Trending Topic every day for a month

Promoted trending topics on the social network currently sell for up to $120,000 a day. Based on that figure, $4 million would afford you the paid placement every day for at least a month. $4 million / $120,000 = 33 days


50 million first-page interstitials

Media buyers say Forbes charges around an $80 CPM for its welcome interstitial ads. At that price you could buy around 50 million impressions, but even if every impression hit a unique user, that’d still only be half the potential audience for a Super Bowl ad. $4 million / $80 CPM = 50 million impressions

That’s a lot of advertising bang for your buck. Locally if you wanted to put that figure into perspective $4 million equates to R36 million, which at a CPM rate of R250, equates to around 145 million impressions. According to the DMMA you could essentially buy every single publishers impressions for about two weeks with this kind of money. Considering this is a high-ish CPM for such volume you’d be looking at even more impressions and reach possible.

If marketers can get such “bang for their buck” why aren’t they pumping even more money into digital ad placement? Yes I know digital grows 20% year-on-year but the truth is that it’s going to take a while for the revenues to be meaningful and massive T.V. productions such as the Superbowl will still need impressive adverts.

The reason marketers will still spend $4 million simply placing an advert is because of the flash and the story. The one thing a banner, rich media or interstitial ad will never do is make you enjoy a story. Viewers watch the Superbowl adverts then go home and Youtube the videos again and again. No one in the history of the world has said “wow I want to watch that banner ad again!” Have you ever heard of model Kate Upton (who appears in an ad this year for Mercedes) in a digital ad campaign? I think not.

What’s the solution? It’s time to add a narrative to online advertising. Hire a writer, a storyteller or someone who can help create a reason for a user to go from a banner to a site that has a story that really engages the user.


Content Marketing on the cheap

Marketing Land has some great ideas on how to get your content out there with minimal time and effort:

Firstly, chose a medium:

Infographics: Do you have a graphic design team in house, or do you need to outsource this portion of your project? If you need to outsource, talk to designers or agencies to see how much an infographic will cost you. Is it an hourly or flat rate? This can affect the scope of your project, considering your $1000-per-month budget.


Written Content: Written content can get pricey– fast, especially for more technical and research-intensive work. If you’re looking to produce a whitepaper for your content marketing, you may not be able to afford to outsource the lot of it, or you may need to spend a couple months’ worth of your budget to get this accomplished. Since the bulk of content is typically of the written variety, you will need to put some careful thought into allocating your funds and time.

Video: Though video seems expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, video shot on a cell phone or digital camera can work just as well as “television ready” video content. If you want a high-quality produced video, your $1000/mo. budget probably won’t cut it. But, if you can shoot the video yourself and edit it in-house, or even hire a freelance video editor, your outsourcing budget could go a long way.


Photos: Photos, like video, can be expensive — but they don’t have to be. Even cell phone-quality photos can make great content — especially with all the filters and photo editing apps available.

Then divide your time:

Two hours per week: Drafting one blog post per week which you will hand off to your editor (above) to finalize. You will then publish on your blog. I recommend picking a specific day of the week for publishing and sticking to it.


Five hours per month: Managing your outsourced projects listed above (the monthly articles for third party sites and the quarterly infographic or free guide).


One hour per week: Draft and schedule social media messages to promote your new blog posts and other content. Write messaging specific to each social media network. Be sure to research and include relevant hashtags in tweets, pay attention to character limits and get a custom shortened link. Schedule messages for the week or longer.


15 minutes per day: Respond to tweets, posts, comments, etc. Interact with others about your content. Be social and converse with your audience. This may be difficult, as it is easy to lose track of time on social media. But in this example, we only have 24 hours per month to work with, so discipline is a must.


One hour per month: Track and report your findings. Reporting content marketing efforts on a monthly basis makes benchmarking easier, and also allows you to tweak your strategy going forward.

The most important issue to consider: measure, measure, measure. Read the full article here.


That FNB advert sucks

There’s been a lot said about the latest campaign from FNB featuring a young girl clearly reading off a teleprompter about how she wants the future of South Africa to be wonderful. If you haven’t had the pleasure click play:

The ANC doesn’t like the advert because it’s promoting dissent amongst the youth of South Africa. FNB then went and withdrew the adverts; a move most likely inspired by the fact that the ANC banks a lot of money with them.

I think the uproar over the ANC being little girls and FNB being pansies is an irrelevant debate. What’s more important here is that this advert is quite simply a steaming pile of crap. A commercial entity getting a little girl to read about how much better the country could be (if the government sorted their shit out) is cynical commercialism at best. It’s in FNB’s best interest for the ANC to sort themselves out but for FNB to publish this advert under the guise of helping the country, it’s no better than Coke showing ads about how bad obesity is.

If the ANC had half a brain cell between them they’d realise that they should be complaining about the quality of the advert rather than the “subversive” message. FNB’s adverts are generally excellent, this is a total mis-step for them.


Using pay per click ads to fight evil

Okay so maybe evil is a slightly strong description but a hedge fund manager is using Google ads to highlight his opinion that Herbalife is a scam and that people need to stop buying or selling the products. Since we’re discussing a Wall Street hedge fund manager don’t assume this is for a good cause, Bill Ackman has spent a billion dollars shorting Herbalife stock. Ackman needs the value of the stock to go down and has turned to Google to help convince people that Herbalife is a scam:

Who will win? That might come down to who does the best marketing. If Ackman is successful in convincing the world that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, it could put pressure on regulators to step in and investigate the company.


That would certainly hurt the company’s stock, and it could even put it out of business. If Herbalife and the hedge fund managers betting on Herbalife can mount a vigorous defense to Ackman’s claims, however, Ackman could become the victim of a massive short squeeze.


In an effort to get information out, Ackman has unveiled a website,, and has stated that he’s prepared to spend whatever it takes to convince the world that he’s right about Herbalife.


Some of his spend is apparently going to Google. A search for ‘Herbalife’ and related terms show AdWords ads for the site.

Apparently other investors have pitched the price of the stock increasing meaning we’ve got an epic marketing battle on our hands to prove that Herbalife is/isn’t a pyramid scheme. This is unfortunately going to be a tough battle for Ackman to win.

Source (EConsultancy)