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Beyond WhatsApp: 6 unusual ways to reach mass market

By GRANT LAPPING, Managing Director at DataCore Media

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As the digital marketing landscape has matured, we have seen brands consolidate more and more of their spending with a few selected social, search and programmatic platforms. The thinking is that they can reach the majority of their target audience by leveraging the few platforms that have come to dominate the time that people spend online.

However, marketers should keep an open mind in a space that evolves as fast as digital media. There are some emerging platforms and neglected channels that offer opportunities for powerful engagement with niche audiences or interesting ways to target or interact with the target consumer.

Here are a few examples of platforms that are good additions to the mainstream mass reaching channels, along with a discussion of some of the benefits they can offer.

Moya Messenger

Moya Messenger (https://www.datafree.co/) is a relatively new South African mobile messaging app that allows subscribers on the major local mobile networks to communicate without incurring data costs. The app’s users can text message each other without airtime or a data balance on their Android smartphone; however, they will incur data costs for rich media attachments such as photos, videos, and voice notes.

The platform enables partners to offer users access to their apps and websites without using their data. Users can also discover content and services such as games, videos, news, and jobs using the app. They can get data-free access to selected services such as news, soccer scores, Wikipedia, weather, and government services.  

Though it launched only a few months ago, Moya Messenger reports that it has 400 million user navigations per month on its platform. The opportunities for marketers are significant – they can run video ads, use the messaging API or conduct market research and surveys without any cost to the end-user. That’s a plus, given just how much South Africans treasure their mobile data.

Teads

Teads (https://www.teads.com/) is a mobile-first video platform and network that offers geotargeted access to high-quality publishers such as CNN, Washington Post, Forbes, Glamour, Reuters, Bloomberg, GQ and Disney. Teads delivers an impressive average 11.3 seconds view time across premium news channels (according to data from Moat, which independently verifies ad views). It also has advanced AI technology which helps marketers move beyond CPM and focus on outcomes.

Teads’ value proposition encompasses guaranteed media metrics including viewability, video competition, incremental reach versus TV, unique clicks and incremental visitors. Its inRead offering is available for video and display and provides a viewable, brand-safe, fraud-free ad experience.

Brands can use behavioural factors such as users’ interest in particular topics or their online behaviour to target users within safe, premium environments.

Snapchat

Most people have heard about Snapchat (https://www.snapchat.com/), but its media potential is often overlooked, and the channel is not as well understood as Facebook or Instagram. For example, many people are surprised to find out that two thirds of its local users are aged 18-34 and that only 21% fall into the 13-17 age group.

Snapchat defines itself as a “camera, where how you feel matters more than how you look”. Its users are not interested in curating perfect posts and pics, but in creating fast, sharable, in-the-moment content. The spontaneous, bite-sized, freewheeling nature of Snapchat offers brands some interesting engagement opportunities.

For example, marketers can leverage creative, interactive ad formats such as augmented reality to create novel  brand experiences. They can use a range of targeting and programmatic options — including custom audience lists and lookalikes of existing audiences – to reach their audience.

Over the past year, Snapchat has grown its user base in South Africa from 1.2 million to 1.9 million daily users. Around 78% of its local users are women. If a brand’s audience skews young and female, Snapchat is worth consideration, especially given just how much the people who use the platform seem to love it.

Vodacom On The Line

Vodacom’s On The Line media offering, which is sold via IMAMEDIA (http://www.imamedia.co.za/), allows marketers to leverage its data to reach Vodacom subscribers with highly targeted ads (at no cost to users).

Brands can insert videos and other messaging into ‘please call me’ messages, for users to watch and interact without incurring data charges. Brands can also target ads to missed call messages. Ads can be delivered along with a notification to the user’s mobile message application inbox.

To boost performance brands can reward users with data when they engage or even push vouchers to people when in store using location targeted deals. Vodacom also offers a site builder option where advertisers can generate leads, drive conversions or host brochures within subsidised landing pages.

Verizon Media

Remember AOL and Yahoo? These platforms and their media assets are still around, reaching around 7 million local users with more than 290 million page views each month. Verizon Media (https://www.verizonmedia.com/) is the programmatic platform one uses to access this audience.

The strength of this platform is its emphasis on native ad formats rather than on standard display formats. It also offers a wealth of audience data matched across devices, allowing for highly targeted third-party audience segments.

Geo-Location

Location-based platforms enable advertisers to target ads to people based on their movements, tracked through phone location settings. This enables retailers to, for example, push vouchers or discounts to people as they enter malls where they have stores or target people visiting competitor stores.

There are several companies offering location-based targeting in South Africa who all have their own unique benefits, but one of the better known platforms is Vicinity Media (https://www.vicinity-media.com/) because of the maturity of its offering and the depth of its portfolio. Among the platforms it represents in South Africa is Waze – which is enough to give Vicinity an edge.

A newer geo-location platform to the South African market is TAPTAP (https://www.taptapnetworks.com/), an adtech multinational which also offers an interesting solution with advanced audience profiling tools, activation options integrated with users’ smartphones and sophisticated attribution reporting.

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Samsung A51: Saviour of the mid-range

For a few years, Samsung has delivered some less than favourable mid-range devices compared to the competition. The Galaxy A51 is here to change all that, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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It’s not often one can look at a mid-range phone and mistake it for a flagship. That’s what you can expect to experience when taking the Galaxy A51 out into the open.

Samsung went back to the drawing board with its new range of devices, and it shows. The latest Galaxy A range features some of the highest quality, budget-friendly devices we’ve seen so far. The Samsung Galaxy A51 is one of the best phones we’ve seen in a while, not just aesthetically, but in what it packs into a sub-R7000 price tag.

Looking at the device briefly, it’s very easy to mistake it for a flagship. It features a four-camera array on the back, and an Infinity-O punch-hole display – both of which are features of the high-end Samsung devices. In fact, it features a similar camera array as the Galaxy Note10 Lite but features an additional lens in the array. The cameras line up in an L-shape, clearly avoiding looking like a stovetop.

Apart from the camera array, the back of the handset features a striking pattern called Prism Crush, a pattern of pastel shades that come in black, white, blue, and pink. For the review, we used the Prism Crush Blue colour and it looks really great. The feel is clearly plastic, which isn’t too surprising for a mid-range device, but the design is definitely something that will make users opt for a clear case. It’s also great to see a design pattern that deviates from the standard single iridescent colours many manufacturers have copied from Huawei’s design.

Along the sides, it features a metal-like frame, but again, it’s plastic. On the left side, we find a SIM and microSD card tray while the right side houses the power button and volume rocker. The bottom of the phone features a very welcome USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, which isn’t too uncommon for mid-range phones.

On the front, the device is pretty much all screen, at an 87.4% screen-to-body ratio, thanks to a tiny chin at the bottom and the small punch hole for the camera. The earpiece has also been hidden inside the frame in attempts to maximise this screen-to-body ratio. When powered on, the 6.5-inch display looks vivid and sharp. That’s because Samsung opted to put a Super AMOLED display into this midrange unit, giving it a resolution of 1080 x 2400 (at 405 ppi) in a 20:9 format. This makes the display FullHD+, and perfect for consuming video content like Netflix and YouTube in HD.

Hidden underneath the display is an in-screen fingerprint sensor, which is very surprising to find in a mid-range device. While it is extremely accurate, it takes some getting used to because the sensor is so large that one needs to put one’s entire finger over the right part of the display to unlock it. Most other types of non-in-screen fingerprint sensors don’t mind a partial fingerprint. The display itself feels nothing like the back and that’s because it’s not plastic, but rather Gorilla Glass 3, to prevent the screen from shattering easily.

What’s interesting about this device is finding accessories which aren’t quite available in phone stores yet. When browsing online for screen protectors, one has to be on the lookout for screen protectors that are compatible with the in-screen fingerprint sensor. Make sure to check out the reviews of users before purchasing them.

In terms of software, Samsung has made a great deal of effort to make the experience slick. Gone are the days of TouchWiz (thank goodness) and now we have OneUI in its second version. OneUI makes the phone easier to use by putting most of the interaction on the bottom half of the screen and most of the view on the top part of the screen, where one’s thumbs don’t usually reach.

Out of the box, the device came with Android 10. This is a huge step forward in terms of commitment to running the latest software for major feature updates as well as for Android security patches to keep the device secure.

It also has most of the cool features from the flagship devices, like Samsung Pay, Bixby, and Link to Windows. Samsung Pay is an absolute pleasure to use, even if it still confuses the person taking your payments. From linking my cards, I have stopped taking my wallet out with me because all merchants that accept tap-to-pay will accept Samsung Pay on the A51.

Bixby is useful if you’re in the Samsung app ecosystem, especially for owners of SmartThings devices like Samsung TVs and SmartThings-enabled smart home devices. Otherwise, Google Assistant is still accessible for those who still want to use the standard Google experience.

Link to Windows is an interesting feature that started with the Galaxy Note10 and has since trickled down into the mid-range. It allows users to send SMS messages, view recently taken photos, and receive notifications from the phone, all on a Windows 10 PC. This can be enabled by going to the Your Phone app found in the start menu.

The rear camera is phenomenal for a mid-range device and features a 48MP wide sensor. The photos come out as 12MP images, which is a common trick of many manufacturers to achieve high-quality photography. It does this by combining 4 pixels into a single superpixel to get the best colours out of the picture, while still remaining sharp. It also performs surprisingly well in low light, which is not something we were expecting from a mid-range device.

The 12MP ultra-wide angle lens spans 123-degrees, which is very wide and also useful for getting shots in where one can’t move back further. It’s not as great as the main lens but does the trick for getting everyone in for a group photo in a galley kitchen.

The 5MP depth-sensing lens supplements the portrait mode, which adds a blur effect to the background of the photo – the same lens as its predecessor, the Galaxy A50. It features a 32MP wide-angle selfie camera, which is perfect for fitting everyone into a large group selfie.

The processor is an Exynos 9611, which is an Octa-core processor. It performs well in most situations, and there is software built in to give games a boost, so it performs well with graphically intensive games too. In terms of RAM, there are 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB variants, so keep an eye out for which one you are trying. For the review, we had the 4GB, and it performs well with multitasking and day-to-day tasks.

For storage, it comes in a 128GB model on Samsung’s website, which seems to be the standard size. This is extremely welcome in the mid-range segment and is the largest we’ve seen for internal storage capacity as a starting point.

At a recommended selling price of R6,999, the Samsung Galaxy A51 marks the beginning of a great era for Samsung, because it provides a feature-rich handset at an affordable price.

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Prepare now for 2030

Traditional businesses are toast unless they start preparing for the future now, warns ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Various forecasts point to the likelihood that technologies using artificial intelligence will generate up to 15% of the world’s gross domestic product by 2030. PwC suggests that it will add $15.7-trillion to the global economy. 

That, in turn, will ensure that a sizeable proportion of the world’s business will be conducted on advanced digital platforms. In other words, the 15% is just the springboard for vast swathes of activity that will dominate business. Those that stick to the old way of doing things will simply be left out of the new economy.

This means traditional businesses are already toast, but only if they decide not to start preparing now.

“This future economy is something that should be on everybody’s mind and in every government’s strategy,” says Mohammed Amin, Dell Technologies senior vice president for Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey. During a visit to South Africa this week, he said it was no longer a matter of selling technology for its own sake.

“If you’re not part of this wagon to the future, you need to jump on it. The world’s IT companies are not pushing digital transformation and multi-cloud strategy just for the sake of selling technology. We’re doing it to optimise your business and to help make you part of the future.”

He says three primary trends need to be leveraged by business.

“I believe that artificial intelligence is the ship that is going to take us for the future. The fuel is going to be data. And infrastructure will be software-defined. You have to build an agile, dynamic infrastructure to thrive in this future.”

Amin, an Egyptian-Canadian, points to the sensation created by his late compatriot, the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum, who died 45 years ago. Last year, she appeared in the world’s first hologram concert, at the World Youth Forum in Egypt. Then, in December, she performed – as a hologram – for paying audiences in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. 

“Imagine people paying for tickets to watch a hologram. It means the world is open to this. It is moving so fast, and we are in the heart of this.”

It is also an example of how technology companies are no longer focused only on technology but also on enhancing human lives. 

“We’re involved in so many projects, from healthcare to education. Education especially is very important, because it is shifting from ‘what to learn’ to ‘how to learn’. It’s an amazing shift. You need to know how to learn because you will need to experience and learn in so many fields to be qualified for the future.”

Amin does not believe doomsday prophecies of much of the world’s population being rendered jobless by robots and AI. However, some “straightforward” jobs will be readily replaceable. Even lawyers and general practice doctors, for example, could be replaced by smartphone apps.

“The job market will grow, but the profile required is going to change. Jobs will be available, but for certain profiles. By 2030, 85% of the job market will be for jobs we don’t know today. This is the challenge that education faces.” 

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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