There are now many African online celebrities and offline celebrities who've built a following. Digital savvy ad agencies are now buying access to their followers to get people to watch their brand's videos. Russell Southwood spoke to Odanga Madung, Odipo Dev about measuring their audience reach and engagement and what it costs to hire celebrity influencers in Kenya.
Odipo Dev was started by a couple of friends when they were at university at JKWAT:"A friend of ours died and we thought we'd do something in his honor. Odipo became that company after a long and winding discussion. We started operating out of our own rooms but registered the business in 2012 and we now have a team of 8 employees".
Odipo Dev does two things: 1. research, data analytics and media intelligence; and 2. data visualization and storytelling. Its clients include: NGOs and corporates. For NGOs it does programme evaluation, market research and data visualization:"The real potential is a chance to provide content that connects research to the public rather than issuing reports that nobody reads. It's about making people care about research".
For its corporate clients it runs analytics to check the effectiveness of their digital spend. For example for East African Breweries, it ran analytics to find out the viewability of digital advertising. It was to try and find out whether their digital ads were being viewed by consumers or not:"We take the analytics and provide the drive to action. We have around seven different tools and each digital channel is different. We help the client identify what's working and what's not working".
So what does work?:"From what we're seeing video consumption is growing to be quite sensitive for advertisers. They are often buying digital ads that are not being viewed. Advertisers are still having huge problems getting consumers to view their videos. Of course, there are factors like the increase in excise duty on Internet access that will only worsen this problem. Also consumers don't see mobile ads as something worth watching. Therefore advertisers need to use influencers to get people to watch ads".
"Influencers of the future are people who have effectively become their own media. So we're trying to create our own ways of measuring the reach and engagement of influencers. This market is currently quite small but we're an Internet savvy generation. It's about the rise of the digital celebrity or offline celebrities who have gone digital".
There are now countless influencers online in Kenya and more generally in Africa but who is number one? It has created a tool called Kingmaker that's designed to bring some sense of analytics into the space:"There is no concrete data. So we described it as a data visualization problem and put it into a plot chart. The Y axis shows engagement and the X access audience".
Usually online audience and engagement reflects how popular people are offline. Influencers include radio DJs, musicians, gospel singers, comedians and food and fitness bloggers at a niche level. The most popular categories are comedians with someone like TV comedian Churchill at the top but also someone like Njugush whose reputation and fame have largely been built digitally:"We see comedians as the most resilient influencers."
You also have political bloggers like Cyprian Nyakundi (301,333 followers on Facebook and who was banned from Twitter) and Robert Alai (363,935 followers on Facebook and 1.1 million on Twitter, formerly Techmtaa.com) and these have higher levels of popularity over election periods. It has also been doing benchmarking against Nigerian musicians and is trying to figure out how to unlock other markets.
"We're thinking of creating a timeline of popularity for influencers over 12 months. We're also looking at trying to come up with a music chart. We haven't had enough time to do that yet. We're also looking at how we can bring in non-digital audiences".
How does it work buying an influencer in Kenya?:"A lot of them charge a flat fee or per post or per month. The brands ask their agency who to pick. The costs can go from KS8,000 to KS1 million per month. The average is around KS100,000 per month. There's a need for price transparency and to have prices related to actual audiences and engagement. It would be helpful if everyone knew what the prices are. We also want to make Kingmaker simpler for people to use".