media update’s Adam Wakefield was at Google South Africa’s head office in Johannesburg on Monday, 5 February to hear how consumer needs should dictate what advertising is served to consumers, and why ad blockers are a result of advertisers not thinking about their consumers.

Targeting consumers to suit their needs

Nicky van der Meulen, group general manager at digital agency Hitch Digital, gave an overview of the online advertising ecosystem. Key to effective online advertising, Van Der Meulen stressed, is being able to apply what you know about your company to your consumer.

Targeting options for online advertisers today are broad. These options include keywords, network speed, IP targeting, Wi-Fi vs carrier, and location, among others.

However, even with all these options, in countries like South Africa and Angola, Van Der Meulen said consumers do not necessarily have the luxury to watch a brand’s video because they cannot afford the data cost.

“We need to understand the continent we live on and the countries we live in. It’s important for us as a market. There is no point in trying to create a blanket campaign that is trying to speak to every nationality,” she said.

“Your content needs to talk about that.”

For example, in Uganda, a trend is for consumers to download videos at work where they can access Wi-Fi and watch them later due to data costs. Creating an advertisement for this market means taking this reality into account.

A challenge for advertisers in African countries is accessing local data and behaviours. This is due to data not being stored correctly, not stored at all, or, for those who are storing data, not knowing how to leverage it.

One bad advert can lead to an ad blocker being installed

The real danger of not delivering relevant advertising and content to consumers is they will see an advertisement not relevant to them, find it irritating, and install an ad blocker. It only takes one bad advertisement for a consumer to install an ad blocker.

“We are, in terms of advertisers, our own worst enemy. We are the reason ad blockers exist. Consumers have been receiving content at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons,” Van Der Meulen said.

“It is up to the publisher, ad agencies, brands, and the ‘Googles’ of the world to educate the client in terms of giving consumers the right content at the right time on the right platform. They’re seeing it because we’re putting it into the system.”

If brands start being more relevant, it will prevent consumers from installing an ad blocker. The more personalised the experience is to the consumer, the less likely that consumer will want to turn off advertising.

While only a fraction of consumers across Africa ad blockers, their use is on the rise. As Van Der Meulen notes, it is a concern, so advertisers need to ensure they are reaching consumers with content that is relevant to them.

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