Picture: LEGO
Picture: LEGO

Who will win and who will lose as hard-sell ads are replaced by content; how measurable is mobile marketing – and can it be creative;  as well as creating African platforms for the African continent. These were all topics covered at a panel discussion that took place at a recent event hosted by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).

Despite the fact that the platforms used in Africa are not owned by Africans, the reality, said Lunga Ngcime, group digital CoE director at Tiger Brands, is that brands love scale, and they need to be where the digital consumers are. “We could say that platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Google are ‘eating our lunch’, but this is where the consumers spend their time.”

Mobile creativity is key, added JUSTPALM.com CEO Patrick Palmi. “Creativity in Africa is a young man in Senegal who creates an app to buy and sell farming products, for example. We need to encourage creative and mobile solutions for Africa. However, we’re not getting it right.”

Innovation should be based on consumer insight, but Africa needs to wake up in terms of entrepreneurialism, said Ngcime. Only then will we be in a position to create our own solutions instead of having to adapt platforms from other developed countries. And only when we are developing our own solutions will we be in a position to compete with companies such as Facebook and Google.

Though it’s particularly difficult to prove ROI on mobile marketing in the FMCG space, and though it may not even generate leads, what mobile marketing does do, he said, is close the gap in-store when the consumer is in a buying frame of mind.

The big take-out

Content and understanding are key to successful digital and mobile campaigns. 

Is our obsession with return on investment in conflict with the need for creativity, or do they go hand in hand? Nobody wants to invest in something that is going to fail, pointed out Palmi, adding that you can’t stop creativity in order to save money or you risk losing market share. Certain brands are risk takers and leaders, while others are followers. All too often, however, marketers are too afraid to take the risk, which is why we don’t see enough innovation.

Hard sell ads will in future be replaced by content, the panel agreed. Ngcime used the example of Lego as a brand that has mastered content marketing, understanding what its consumers want and integrating its marketing into opportunities such as movies. “Brands that can spot these opportunities will win,” he said.

Social media has given consumers a voice and they don’t want to be told what to do. “Create content that people will want to consume and not feel forced to,” advised Palmi, saying this was particularly true of a younger market, where people need to be engaged in a more effective way.

Digital is a space where you can fail fast, but you can also fix it fast. “You quickly learn what your audience responds to but be careful not to jump onto a platform before you understand how it works,” said Parmi.

Though failure typically occurs when you play in a space you don’t understand, digital has empowered marketers to turn mistakes around quickly. This allows for agility.