Up until a few years ago, marketers worked on the assumption that digital reached a small audience of high-income earners while television served the mass market. That picture has changed dramatically over the last five years, and the time has come for brands to rethink how and where they allocate their media budgets.
Let’s start with a quick look at the recent statistics. Though different researchers come up with slightly different figures, the more conservative sources estimate that Internet penetration in South Africa is around 54%. This is driven in part by the mobile revolution, with falling smartphone and data prices making the Internet more accessible to a mass market.
The ICASA State of IT report for 2019 reveals that smartphone penetration has doubled in the last two years and now sits at close to 82%. ICASA recorded around 65 million data subscriptions in 2018 – an impressive number for a country of 57 million, even when controlling for individuals with multiple subscriptions.
What’s more, Wi-Fi networks are starting to blanket previously excluded communities, with private sector players rolling out hotspots at taxi ranks, on buses, schools, malls and even spaza shops. Most South Africans today can get access to the Internet from a mobile device, their workplace or somewhere in their community.
SA spends more time online
The result is that people from all walks of life are spending more and more time online – more than half of the population spend a significant portion of the day on digital devices. According to Hootsuite, South Africans spend more time online than their counterparts in countries such as the US, Germany, UK, Singapore and China.
What makes this even more compelling is that digital is no longer as fragmented as it was 10 years ago. People are clustering together on a handful of platforms – 90% of Internet users use WhatsApp, 84% use YouTube and 82% are on Facebook. Many of the most popular channels share an owner – Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram, and Google owns YouTube.
This is not to say that other digital media outlets are not effective for a range of campaigns and audiences, but rather to point out marketers can today reach most of the population with one or two platforms.
The high level of concentration resembles the old days of TV where marketers could reach the entire audience on three channels – but with the important distinction that a brand can tailor its message to each person using a particular platform or service rather than broadcasting the same ad to everyone.
Using the behavioural data and algorithms that the digital platforms offer, brands can target people based on their interests at a moment in time. The brand can, for example, present the right message to a person shopping for a new car or a child-friendly hotel in Mauritius at the moment they will be receptive to it.
TV sells, but so does digital
Over time, a brand can create custom audiences based on their interactions with its content. It can define a clear funnel within a handful of channels, and then constantly target, measure and optimise to get the best results from its ad spend. TV, by contrast, can offer GRP data but brands are not sure which people watched the ad or how to continue to engage with them as they move through the sales funnel.
Nonetheless, many South African marketers still allocate far more budget to TV campaigns than to online channels. Ask them why and they will say that they sell products when they run ads on television. Yet few of them have experimented to see what might happen if they equalise TV and digital budgets.
According to Nielsen, South African brands spend R45 billion a year on advertising and sponsorships, with TV getting close to 57% of the share of spend. Nielsen campaign data from campaigns tracked across 17 top brands over three years found that digital advertising return on investment was R2,30 compared to TV at R1,30.
This is not to say that digital can replace television, but rather that it should play a bigger role in some marketing and advertising campaigns. There is no argument that TV is a great option for FMCG brands seeking reach and frequency for a mass market. But when it comes to products where the sales cycle is longer, digital and TV can work well together.
Scale and intimacy
In the instance of purchasing a car, for example, a consumer will do a lot of research between deciding to buy a new vehicle and concluding the purchase. Throughout the sales cycle – from purchase intent to brand awareness to researching car options to booking the test drive to ensuring post-purchase loyalty – digital is a powerful way of engaging the customer.
The ability to track a sale to its original media source is a huge advantage, especially when budgets are tight and there is a greater demand for accountability. Through digital channels, marketers can eliminate wastage on underperforming media channels, audiences and ad messages, although it’s important that the full attribution path is properly tracked and understood.
Digital channels today not only offer the ability to target, measure, personalise and optimise spending – they make it possible to reach nearly every customer segment from the same set of platforms. This blend of intimacy and scale is unique to digital – and it is a great reason for brands to look at upping their spending on digital channels.
IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines
Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.
“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”
Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.
“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”
Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.
“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”
The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.
“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”
The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.
“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”
Oracle leads in clash of
Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews.
The three vendors received the following citations:
- Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search.
- Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
- IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.
The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.
“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group.
“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”