Online publishers in Africa find that selling advertising is not one of the easiest tasks as markets are geographically dispersed and costly to reach. South Africa's Mobi Hunter has built its business model on combining representing online publishers with selling digital advertising campaigns to brands. Russell Southwood spoke to Riccardo Pasqualotto, Founder and Sales Director, Mobi Hunter about how it works.
"Mobi Hunter sits in the middle (of the digital advertising sales process) and wears two very hats. On the sell-side we represent online publishers where our market focus is countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. On the buy-side, we take budgets on behalf of brands and spend them programmatically... We're quite flexible in how we operate."
In its online publisher portfolio are a series of social media platforms: 2Go which still has 5 million monthly users in Nigeria; Nimbuzz, the social media platform from India; and BBM, the former Blackberry OS which we wrote about in Issue 80: http://www.smartmonkeytv.com/channel/newsletters/under_new_management_bbm_platform_seeks_to_leverage_its_22_million_african
On the more conventional online side, it represents CNN, Cartoon Network (including French West Africa) and Naspers-owned OLX, which claims to be the biggest online classifieds site in Africa, with major country presence in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana. CNN gets into the high millions of uniques and has very high levels of engagement with its targeted content like CNN Business Traveller and CNN Style.
The stats from OLX give some indication of the kind of monthly reach possible: Nigeria (40 million page views); Kenya (64 million page views); South Africa (35 million page views); Ghana (23 million page views) and Uganda (7 million page views). The average time spent on the site is 19 minutes.
Are the publishers happy with the revenues they're getting?:"I think they're getting enough at the moment. We've recently signed up Project Isizwe's 1400 hot spots. We'll plug in and sell their stuff on ADEX and this will be a big thing in the future. We're also in good negotiations with other sites about taking their sites to market on programmatic."
On the sell-side, it has worked with GT Bank in Nigeria "to reach a certain set of audiences to get them to become account holders". It used CNN to target high net worth individuals, BBM to target those who might open a checking account and OLX users with the slogan "Come bank with us." In a similar targeted approach, it has done work for Multichoice selling its different Pay TV packages.
"We use programmatic to buy (audiences) we don't already have (through our publisher portfolio) and that gives us a lot of reach. We did 22 African countries last year."
So what does it cost to advertise?"It goes from US$2 a CPM (for example, 2Go featurephone users) to US$7 a CPM (for example, for CNN, OLX or the Cartoon Network) with deeper targeting." Total ad spend for a campaign usually varies between US$2,000-20,000 but can go as high as US$350,000-400,000:"The amount spent in Nigeria has dropped a bit."
In competitive terms, Mobihunter is in an interesting place. On the programmatic side, there are some very good players in South Africa and one or two in Kenya. But on the publisher representation side, there are not that many but they include Ole Media and Ventra in Nigeria.
It also still does bulk SMS but the revenues are now only 10% of the turnover of the business:"The day-to-day stuff is display advertising."
So what developments will it be rolling out in the next 12 months?:"We're pushing voucher and coupon products in Nigeria and South Africa. And on the data side of things, we're trying to enrich how we sell and what we're selling.
Any interested brands or agencies can get in touch with Mobihunter on: firstname.lastname@example.org