The webinar coincided with the '#StopHateForProfit' campaign and major global brands pausing their social media advertising in the United States of America prior to the elections.
Waldimar Pelser, editor in chief of Rapport
, expressed concern that Facebook and Google were eating up more than 90% of South African digital advertising. He said that this was "reeking of neo-colonialism", with profits being repatriated to the United States and Europe, rather than staying in South Africa.
Pelser reported that in the 'before times', most ad spend had stayed in South Africa, having been allocated to media that played a constructive role in our society. He added that, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, South African news brands were in a better position to package stories and solutions that are 'authentically local'.
A further caution for advertisers from the webinar was that they had little control over where their messaging was placed on Facebook and Google. This lack of environmental control was exacerbated when programmatic advertising was used.
By contrast, advertisers who placed advertising in Media24 news brand knew what they were getting: content that had been checked and corroborated. Pelser said that if these titles got things wrong, there were consequences.
According to Pelser, an environment of heightened accountability was beneficial for the readers who knew they were getting credible and trustworthy information. City Press
editor in chief Mondli Makhanya said that the recent developments of the big brands of the world taking action to call for accountability from Facebook were positive.
However, Makhanya encouraged cautiousness, describing the tech companies as 'massive giants that gobble up ad-investment' on a global scale and are presenting challenges even to global media companies.
Mapula Nkosi, editor in chief at the Daily Sun
, said that there were not a lot of trolls or negative content in these accountable and curated spaces.
According to Nkosi, these news brands could take advertisers directly to the audiences they were seeking, and through collaborative partnerships, ensure that brand stories were told in safe and trusted environments in a way that was meaningful to their audiences.
According to the webinar, commercial partnerships and meaningful relationships are the way forward. Pelser asked for the support of commercial partners, saying that for news brands to continue to find and tell the stories of our society, they needed to have well-capacitated newsrooms.
Reader income alone could not sustain such newsrooms, according to the webinar. Makhanya added that there were many stories of corporate South Africa making real differences, but effectively telling these requires building meaningful relationships.
According to Media24, collaboration and innovation are vital to building the recovery of South Africa. "In this unique time, brands and corporates have the opportunity to collaborate with Media24 news brands to forge a new way forward and to tell their stories in the most meaningful way," concluded the team at Media24.
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