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Ad industry must change

There has long been a need for the advertising industry to modernise. Now digital transformation is upon us and change is non-negotiable. At the same time, the industry is facing disruption from new entrants, writes ALISTAIR MOKOENA is CEO of Ogilvy South Africa.

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No longer is advertising creation the sole preserve of advertising agencies. Consulting firms are getting into advertising. The platform owners – Google, Facebook and Amazon – now sell and create advertising. Clients are using technology and data to insource marketing services. Brand managers are doing their own community management and social media is shrinking…

These modern marketing challenges require serious introspection on the part of agencies, but they also present vast opportunities to rejuvenate the advertising industry and deliver a broader, more holistic service for our clients.

The customer decision journey has several steps. It involves creating awareness, signing up customers, increasing sales, problem solution, customer retention and deepening relationships. As advertising agencies, we have traditionally been involved in the beginning of the journey – creating demand and sales.

Today, the prospect of becoming involved in other stages of that journey is an attractive one for agencies open to expanding their capabilities and reinventing the way they work. If we can develop the right skill sets, we can play across the entire value chain.

Marketing has changed irrevocably from what it was only a decade ago. Clients now look to agencies to help them win with consumers who are always connected, on multiple channels, and exposed to media streams from innumerable sources. Budgets are tight and clients want rapid innovation.

Delivering in this environment means agencies must embrace the opportunities in digital disruption, and build the skills to work in this space. Once we have those skills, we can use them to help our clients develop strategy. The agency then becomes a digital consultancy instead of just a supplier.

For ad agencies to make this change to a broader professional-services offering, they may have to redesign their entire internal ecosystem.

It is one thing to offer a wider suite of services, crafts and capabilities, but clients want simplified functionality. They want to access all these services from one point of contact. A byzantine corporate structure of a dozen subsidiaries confuses clients, and hampers delivery.

Modern agencies need to ensure they have the most efficient structure, processes and technologies. Agencies must be quick and agile, and customer centric, as they play across a bigger part of the customer decision journey. They can be more relevant to client businesses and have more control over the outcome.

This is uncharted terrain for many agencies, but there is no time to lose. We must adapt our business models, our structure and our offerings – many of which have not changed since the middle of the last century.

We must simplify how we work, and provide a seamless client experience, with a single point of accountability, and a structure that’s nimble and cost efficient. This will enable us to partner more effectively with our clients. It may also mean new compensation models linked to sales or other deliverables, instead of the traditional time- or project-based approach.

The people in these new agency structures must be fully conversant across different capabilities, without any duplication of skills. The agency of the future won’t just provide creative ideas for marketing communications, but ideas to win with the customer and to succeed as a business.

We must now put the customer at the heart of what we do, to consider the entire customer decision journey, and not just create demand.

Brands have multiple stakeholders – the brand owners, the marketers, as well as society and the broader community. Our challenge is to make the brand matter across all those different stakeholder groups, to maximise the potential success of the brand.

Every industry is affected by digital disruption, structural change and greater customer demands – from the motor industry to financial institutions to the media. Every CEO is grappling with digital disruption, fighting to survive, trying to win with the new, multi-connected, always-on consumer.

The agency of today is no different. How we adapt to these challenges and create new ways of approaching business and building brands will determine whether we survive or prosper in the new marketing environment.

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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The dark side of apps

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Mobile device security threats are on the rise and it’s not hard to see why. In 2019 the number of worldwide mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.68 billion of which 2.7 billion are smartphone users. So, if you are looking for a target, it certainly makes sense to go where the numbers are. Think about it, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, network spoofing, phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware and improper session handling – mobile devices make for the perfect easy target. In fact, according to Kaspersky, mobile apps are often the cause of unintentional data leakage.

“Apps pose a real problem for mobile users, who give them sweeping permissions, but don’t always check security,” says Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager for Kaspersky in Africa. “These are typically free apps found in official app stores that perform as advertised, but also send personal – and potentially corporate – data to a remote server, where it is mined by advertisers or even cybercriminals. Data leakage can also happen through hostile enterprise-signed mobile apps. Here, mobile malware uses distribution code native to popular mobile operating systems like iOS and Android to spread valuable data across corporate networks without raising red flags.”

In fact, according to recent reports, 6 Android apps that were downloaded a staggering 90 million times from the Google Play Store were found to have been loaded with the PreAMo malware, while another recent threat saw 50 malware-filled apps on the Google Play Store infect over 30 million Android devices. Surveillance malware was also loaded onto fake versions of Android apps such as Evernote, Google Play and Skype.

Considering that as of 2019, Android users were able to choose between 2.46 million apps, while Apple users have almost 1.96 million app options to select from, and that the average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month and launching 9 per day – it’s easy to see how viral apps take several social media channels by storm.

“In this age where users jump onto a bandwagon because it’s fun or trendy, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can overshadow basic security habits – like being vigilant on granting app permissions,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa. “In fact, accordingly to a previous Kaspersky study, the majority (63%) of consumers do not read license agreements and 43% just tick all privacy permissions when they are installing new apps on their phone. And this is exactly where the danger lies – as there is certainly ‘no harm’ in joining online challenges or installing new apps.”

However, it is dangerous when users just grant these apps limitless permissions into their contacts, photos, private messages, and more. “Doing so allows the app makers possible, and even legal, access to what should remain confidential data. When this sensitive data is hacked or misused, a viral app can turn a source into a loophole which hackers can exploit to spread malicious viruses or ransomware,” adds Badenhorst. 

As such, online users should always have their thinking caps on and be more careful when it comes to the internet and their app habits including:

  • Only download apps from trusted sources. Read the reviews and ratings of the apps as well
  • Select apps you wish to install on your devices wisely
  • Read the license agreement carefully
  • Pay attention to the list of permissions your apps are requesting. Only give apps permissions they absolutely insist on, and forgo any programme that asks for more than necessary
  • Avoid simply clicking “next” during an app installation
  • For an additional security layer, be sure to have a security solution installed on your device

“While the app market shows no signs of slowing down, it is changing,” says Opil. “Consumers download the apps they love on their devices which in turn gives them access to content that is relevant and useful. The future of apps will be in real-world attribution, influenced by local content and this type of tailored in-app experience will lead consumers to share their data more willing in a trusted, premium app environment in exchange for more personalised experiences. But until then, proceed with caution.”

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