Advertising trends in E. Africa point to steady growth

What you need to know:

Growth in smartphones. Increased penetration of the Internet, the low cost of smart devises and the launch of 3G and 4G in East Africa will see more and more people acquiring smart devices to mainly access social media

When it comes to the East African markets, years of advertising trends indicate a slow but steady growth. An exception is Kenya which has been growing at a much faster pace. This growth is indicative of the confidence advertisers have in the Kenyan market.

Kenya’s advantages
Kenya seems to have an upper hand in the advertising industry in comparison to the rest of the East African region. A few assumptions can be made to explain this disparity. One could be the country’s positioning as a central hub for multinationals investing in East Africa.

Kenya is strategically ‘placed’ i.e. the presence of a seaport, advanced infrastructure, the booming tourism sector and liberalised trade policies; hence, becoming a gateway to other landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Another advantage for Kenya is the fact that the media industry is more developed; hence, facilitating direct interaction between its owners (media) and advertisers whereas the other East African countries (Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda), rely almost entirely on the hub agencies.

Still, they are aided by the heavy investment in advertising production equipment and backed by the creative advertising skills that influence the more advanced quality of their output. It therefore comes as no surprise, that the Kenyan advertising sector is more competitive in communication, finance, household personal care, retail and finance sectors.

Rwanda’s case
In Rwanda, we compared quarter four of 2013 and quarter one of 2014 because this is our new market when it comes to media monitoring. In both quarters, the analysis revealed that the corporate category led with spends of 434m Rwf ($630,000) in quarter four and 708M Rwf ($1.02m) in quarter one, an astounding 63 per cent increase.

The communication and financial services traded places between the two quarters, with communications taking second place and financial services taking third place in quarter four and the opposite in quarter one.

Beverage which took fourth place in quarter four was pushed aside by publishing which replaced it in quarter one. Ipsos analysis showed a 30 per cent downward correction in beverage spends between the two quarters from 137 M Rwf ($198,000) to 95 M Rwf ($138,000). The impact of significant cuts in the advertising budget was not only felt in the beverage category, but also in the retail and clothing categories registering 47 per cent and 87 per cent drops respectively.

Radio reigns
While radio listenership is growing across East Africa, some industry experts have predicted a continued decrease in print, despite cases of targeted advertising (most advertising is mass), advertisers will place their adverts in platforms where they can reach the most people.

If the readership of newspapers goes down, that means the possible mass reachable via print will also decrease and as a result print advertising budgets will drop especially the hard copy newspapers.

Is the thought of waking up to empty newspaper stands becoming a reality? This thought may be a little farfetched; newspapers will always have a place in the media space.

How significant that space is can be left to anyone’s speculation. It is noteworthy that online readership of newspapers is on the increase, and the numbers of those visiting websites of the leading newspaper brands are higher than the number of those visiting the closest newspaper stand.

Given that the newspaper reading culture in Rwanda is still growing and the market has only two daily newspapers, the advertising spends on print would be expected to be significantly lower than those of the other mediums.

As earlier mentioned, radio is king and in Rwanda, that fact is very true, although there was a 6 per cent drop in overall spends on radio from 1.52 B Rwf to 1.43 B Rwf.

Digital media rising
We shall also be looking out for advertising through the digital media in the last quarter 2014 going forward using a new Ipsos App Buzzwatch. This is because digital has become the “next big thing” in the media mix for the advertiser and all communication practitioners.

The increased penetration of Internet, the low cost of smart devises and the launch of 3G and 4G in East Africa will see more and more people acquiring smart devices to mainly access social media.

The smartphone adoption is already changing the way consumers use mobile devices. Mobile phone applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Viber, Twitter etc have reduced the appetite for voice call and traditional SMS. They have becoming ingrained in our modern life that it’s difficult to imagine what life was like without them.”

The writer is the audience research, marketing & communications manager at Ipsos-Uganda.