Despite the rather high broadband costs in South Africa, a recent survey has shown that local users are the second highest – next to New Zealand and Canada – when it comes to steaming video on smartphones or tablets.
Contrary to popular opinion, mobile screens are regularly being tapped for streaming longer-form video, according to “Mobile Video Usage: A Global Perspective,” a new survey of consumers from 24 countries who watch smartphone video.
Published by the global Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), it shows South Africa recording the second highest year-on-year increase (42%) in the viewing of video on smartphones, tying with New Zealand and Canada and surpassing the UK (40%). The country with the most prominent uptick in video on smartphones was the United States (50%).
“The overall findings underpin many conversations and opinion pieces of late, pointing to the change in audience consumption and ever increasing use of smart devices to stream video content,” says Gustav Goosen, Head of Research Council for IAB SA. “It contradicts the ever-present reference to limited broadband access and further illustrates that SA has a burgeoning online video consumption market, ripe for engagement.”
The research also confirms a trend noted last year by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, in the South African Social Media Landscape 2015 report. It showed that YouTube was the fastest growing social network in South Africa, with 7,2-million users.
A trend towards watching more video content on mobile phones ultimately impacts on the content that is being watched and how long it is watched. Thirty-six percent of the total respondents said they watch videos that are five minutes or longer on their phones daily or more frequently.
Smartphone video viewers in Turkey, Finland, China, Russia and Singapore are particularly frequent viewers of such videos. Even longer programming, such as movies and full-length television show episodes, are also viewed by audiences on mobile devices, with Chinese viewers being the most inclined to watch both films and TV shows on their mobile screens. Consumers in China (37%) and Singapore (35%) report the highest incidence of watching less TV due to streaming more on mobile. If South Africa’s increasing consumption of online video content is anything to go by, the way viewers interact with local television is set to shift dramatically.
When mobile video viewers do watch traditional television, however, 22 percent are regularly doing so while watching video simultaneously on their phone. This video dual-screening tendency is evident across all markets measured, with the exception of Japan.
“The popularity of digital video is evident across small screens the world over,” said Anna Bager, Senior Vice President Mobile and Video, IAB, and General Manager of the IAB Digital Video and Mobile Marketing Centers of Excellence. “The fact that people are not only watching short snippets of programming, but committing to longer form content on their phones, opens doors for brands to be part of this impressive mobile engagement. However, the findings are that viewers around the world are now video dual screening while watching TV, points to an emerging challenge for marketers: How do you grab a viewer’s attention when it’s divided between two simultaneous video feeds?”
Across the 24 countries in the survey, there are several common ways that mobile video viewers discover digital video to view on their phones, including:
· YouTube (62%)
· Social media platforms (33%)
· Search results (20%)
· Advertising (14%)
When looking for mobile video to watch, advertising has even more influence in the U.S. (22%) and Canada (18%).
Apps are the main method for viewing mobile video in each of the markets studied. Nearly half of respondents overall (48%) said that they “only” or “mostly” leverage mobile apps to stream video on their phones, with the UK (63%), Brazil (60%), and Turkey (58%) leading the trend. By contrast, across the survey sample only 18% said they “only” or “mostly” use mobile websites to view video.
More than a quarter (28%) of viewers across the participating countries said that they often see ads on mobile video that they’ve already seen on TV. Numbers climb higher in France (38%), Turkey (36%), Finland (35%) and the U.S. (35%). But, marketers might be missing out with this approach – since 80 percent or more of consumers in most markets expressed interest in any kind of tailored ad versus “I prefer no tailoring of ads at all.” The findings point to the importance of ads being relevant to the content of the video being watched, but also show viewing history being a significant factor, especially in the U.S. and Canada.
“Audiences around the world are overwhelmingly open to mobile video advertisements that relate to their context and viewing patterns,” said Joe Laszlo, Senior Director, IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence. “Clearly, this is a real boon to global marketers that want to ensure they reach the audience segments most likely to be interested in their products or services.”
In addition to advertising, the study shows that there is potential for mobile video monetisation through subscription and pay-on-demand models. In several markets, viewers already demonstrate a willingness to pay for video content that is streamed to phones:
· China (33%)
· U.K. (25%)
· Canada (23%)
· U.S. (23%)
· Australia (21%)
Still, there are barriers to overcome for further success in pay-for models – and much need to grow mobile video advertising revenue. Seventy-eight percent of respondents overall stated that they would rather have free mobile video supported by ads.
Online retail gets real
After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.
Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.
The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.
This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping.
But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.
On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.
He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.
According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.
In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature.
Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.
A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand.
In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.
Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.
It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time.
It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.
Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.
The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.
Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.
Reliable satellite Internet?
MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company.
“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.
The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.
The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022.
The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data.
C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.
MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity. Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.
Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content.
The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.
Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online.
“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”