9 March 2016

Africa: Exclusive Interview With One of Africa's Unsung Online Giants - Ringier Africa Restructures Itself to Take Advantage of Growth and Does Video

interview

There are several large, multi-territory African online companies and until recently Ringier Africa has been the equivalent of the quiet guy in the corner at the party. Balancing Act's Sylvain Beletre talked to Leonard Stiegeler, the new director for Africa to learn more about the group's strategy on the continent, and understand what he undertakes in the audiovisual sector.

With a hyper local approach and support of Swiss technology, Ringier manages some of the largest content sites in Europe. It has been operating in emerging makets since 1989 and went into Africa in 2011. Ringier Africa has focused its efforts on customizing what it does for African countries and delivering it on mobile.

It has a pan-African digital marketing agency (Ringier Digital Marketing) and a number of online service and media platforms including: for online classifieds ZoomTanzania (Tanzania); Expat-Dakar & MaMaison (Senegal); Pigiame (Kenya); the main platform for online content Pulse (Nigeria, Ghana) and the main platform for online transactions Rupu (Kenya) and Tisu (Ghana). Ringier is present locally in each of these markets with offices and teams.

Q. How have you invested in Africa through your venture capital fund?

A. In Africa, Ringier has an investment strategy: the Group has acquired and integrated local companies. Founded in 2015, the objective of the venture capital company invests in start-ups and innovative digital applications that will benefit from the expertise of successful companies Ringier network.

Q. You post videos: how do you get traffic, how do you produce, and is it a profitable business?

A. We have indeed invested in audiovisual production. We have begun to monetize these videos, but this is not the only purpose of these productions. They are part of our content. Some videos are sponsored with pre-roll/ad clips. We have a monetization program with YouTube and Facebook, and are active on Instagram.

We post videos on our websites and on social networks. To do this, we built 2 video teams of our own: one in Ghana and Nigeria. Each team consists of 5 people.

In Nigeria, we produce from 50 to 60 videos per week, which amounts to about 250 videos produced/month. Each video lasts between 10 seconds and several minutes. These interviews, excerpts of performances, gags, events, etc. Pulse Ghana on our YouTube channel has got 8,218 subscribers and 1,728,237 views since July 15, 2013. Pulse Nigeria has meanwhile got 27,733 subscribers and 8,925,742 views since August 15, 2013. The two chains have therefore received a total of 10,653,979 views February 16, 2016.

Our million views come from networks Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Some videos recorded millions of views.

Q. What is the secret of your success in Africa?

A. Our strength lies in local partnerships, international expertise, content and a long-term vision. Ringier's channels put together information about events in a manner that is comprehensive, competent and emotional. We stick to the needs of our customers and the local community. We have a real digital expertise.

Q. How do you see the future?

A. Ringier entered the African market in 2011 with a clear focus that leverages the digital potential and needs of the market within 5 years. Our brands have achieved significant success and leadership positions. We plan to continue our expansion into sub-Saharan markets in the next year.

Early this year, Ringier restructured its organization on the international market. January 1, 2016, Ringier Africa and Asia have made many changes to encourage strong growth in international markets thanks to the arrival of additional personnel and international support.

After a successful 2015 years marked by solid growth in all businesses and all countries of the two continents, the achievement of milestones, Ringier presented a new international organization that will allow further growth in terms of quality and efficiency , and subsequent expansions.

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In terms of personnel changes, Leonard Stiegeler, former CEO of Ringier Nigeria and Director of Ringier West Africa, was recently appointed CEO of Ringier Africa. Jessica List, who was part of Ringier M & A and business development team, will take the position of Chief Financial Officer for Africa. Jessica Stiles, former Marketing Director of international markets, becomes Commercial Director for Africa and Asia.

These positions will come under the the current Director-General for Asia and Africa, Robin Lingg, who was elected to the Ringier AG Executive Board in December 2015.

Julian Artope, current Director of Ringier Africa begin his MBA in March, after four years on the continent to establish Ringier Africa. Mark Slade, former Director of RDM e-marketing agency in Nigeria, will take the position of CEO of Ringier Nigeria.

To further support the growing complexity of rapidly expanding operations of Ringier, four dedicated teams have been formed for each of the African business models, namely Classifieds, Content, E-commerce and E-marketing. Each of these teams will help its own industry in the areas of marketing, business and operations, and product development.

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