According to MasterCard’s 2014 Digital Evolution Index, South Africa is ranked the fourth fastest growing digital economy after China, Malaysia and Thailand. That automatically makes the second largest economy in Africa the fastest growing digital space on the continent.
Even with this growth South Africa, like many other countries on the continent, is only beginning to gain traction.
Overall, Africa’s internet penetration is forecasted to reach 600 million people by 2025, with the continent’s two leading economies Nigeria and South Africa leading the surge.
According to Pete Case, the co-chief creative officer of Ogilvy and Mather South Africa, media agencies across the region are still waking up to the reality that is the digital revolution.
In many African countries ad agencies are still focused on offline media like physical newspapers, magazines, radio, television and billboards as the best way to reach the mass market.
“The market is still very wide open here; there’s maybe seven or eight established digital agencies which is minute compared to anywhere else,” Case said.
A study by international ad monitoring agency Frukt estimates that 65 percent of consumer spending in sub-Saharan Africa is done or influence by young people.
More than half of all Africans are said to be under the age of 20 and 70 percent are estimated to be below 35 years.
Craig Utermark, CEO of Cape Town-base programmatic advertising agency Atmosphere Orange, says these demographic of consumers “They read all the time, but not newspapers or magazines.”
“But they are all zero’ed in, whenever and wherever they can, surfing the social freeways on their phones,” he says, adding that it is possible for brand manager to reach 95 percent of sub-Saharan market online.
With their phones powered up, Africa’s youth are literally clicking their way into the future as they try to build their own personal brands online. And there is where the media spend should be looking to capture their attention.
By 2020 Africa’s youth, which is not pessimistic about its future even with rising unemployment rates in many countries, are expected to dominate the continent $1.3 trillion consumer spending, Frukt says in its study.
“The South African Social Media Landscape 2015 report recently revealed that just in this country Twitter has 6.6 million users and visual platforms YouTube and Instagram have seen a user increase of 53% and 65% respectively over the past year,” Utermark said.
“So our young people, like those across the world want ads with great visuals, ideally set to a great musical beat, something they can share on social media and be seen as cool by their friends.”