Lately, Nation Media has been on a campaign trail that seeks to remind people that advertising with them is beneficial for their businesses. I have been wondering why this and why now because frankly, the reason they never advertised this before was because they never needed to. They (mainstream media) were the only kids on the block. Nation only advertised their weekend magazine and special features in the papers but never before have they advertised that they advertise – not that I recall of anyway. To say that I found their advertisement curious would be an understatement. I read more into it started wondering whether the rest of the papers would follow suit.
I have some theories that I will be bold enough to call out.
This has happened elsewhere and is bound to happen here too if it has not started already. Many Mainstream Media in the US and elsewhere had to cut down on employees because the money that was coming in through the then lucrative advertising deals was no more. According to David Carr’s Dark Death of Media in the New York Times,
“Pages are down, spending is down, revenues are down, and the biggest feature of this holiday season in the media kingdom has been layoffs and buyouts at Condé Nast, Time Inc., The Associated Press, and yes, The New York Times.”
And the main culprit has been social media. This has brought a war of words between the Journalists who actually studied for it and the bloggers who have become better at it. For those who still refused to believe, they attributed this drying up of advertisement revenues to the world economic crisis that was at play then. But since the revenues have not yet made a comeback with the improving economy, social media is reemerging as the place where the money is going.
Kenya is no different. Every time I log onto Facebook, I see businesses or people on the sidebar advertising their goods or services. And a couple of times a day, I get followed on twitter either by the Standard Bank guys’ @standardbankgrp or the Yoghurt selling people in Nairobi @whitedezert and a host of many more Kenyan /African companies or their representatives. And the fact they are now participating actively through social media not only gives credence to recognition of social media as a strong marketing tool but should also be understood in the context of budget allocation. Companies, instead of going to Nation with their whole marketing budgets have now decided to give them a little bit less because they need money to cover their social media end. And Nation Media must surely be hurting for it to come out and advertise itself so boldly as an advertiser.
According to the various reports such as this by Marketing Charts and these 2010 projections by Ignite Media, the budget allocations towards social media is on the rise. And though some will dismiss this as a global forecast with no local implications, I expect budgets to start moving the social media way too in Kenya especially as social media continues to take root and internet connectivity speeds increase.
People and Businesses alike are waking up the reality that through Social Media, they’re the best marketers for their brands. They now realize that what they do and how they act influence peoples perception of them and their brands. Consequently, as people build their reputations online much like Bankelele has done with his blog, Erik Hersman with White African and Ory Okolloh with her many online initiatives (@Ushahidi, @Kenyanpundit, Mzalendo), the trust that they have build with their readers has seen many of these readers transfer this trust to the brands they work for, associate with, and/or what they feel strongly about. The US Government also paid tribute to the rising influence of bloggers through introduction of the new FTC Rules for New Media – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials. This is basically because what is said in New Media influences how quickly products move off the shelves.
Knowing this, Kenyan companies will seek to create more social capital because it represents the most efficient form marketing that just happens to be user generated. Consumer-Generated Content is online word-of-mouth and companies will begin to target the key online influencers in the particular industry that they operate in to be their affiliate marketers or to sponsor their conversations. This will also mean more investment into people who will be manning these social media outlets as community managers, forum managers, bloggers, and investment too in the technology that supports these social media channels.
But I am not spelling DOOM for Nation Media and its peers in this new age media. Their Business Daily is proof enough that they are willing to change the rules of the game to survive. As is, they charge for some of the content on the Business Daily website. How well this is working out is unknown to me and the cold hard figures are what determine the viability of charging for content in Kenya.
And note that I have not said Companies will cease advertise with Nation or any of the Mainstream Media, they will still do so but the budget will increasingly be split between new media and traditional advertisement. The percentage of distribution will now be determined by whichever will have the greatest Return on Investment.
What are your thoughts?