On 21 June, Marketing Mix invited five of our current Red & Yellow School students, and Heléne Lindsay, our Head of Customer, to The Best of Global Digital Marketing Trends conference. We were granted permission to share key insights from the presentation with you. These are new, ground-breaking trends that you won’t find anywhere else. So dig in and let us know your thoughts.

Hando Sinisalu – CEO and presenter – shared so much, it made distilling the conference into one newsletter impossible. So we’ve serialised it into episodes that’ll roll out over the next few weeks, starting with key take outs from the legendary venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report for 2018, followed by the implications of what it means for businesses. We took the liberty of adding some of our own (creative) thinking to add even more value and some local context.

Key takeouts and trends

  • Radio, as a channel, is doing surprisingly well – time spent by listeners is higher than ad spend, making for good ROI.
  • Mobile is still ranking for highest potential and biggest opportunities.
  • When it comes to online product searches and purchasing decisions, Amazon –at 49% – is the most popular resource, not Google. (Who would have thought?)
  • Payments are going digital – by 2025, China will most likely be a cashless economy.
  • The threat to brand reputation: brands are becoming increasingly concerned about where ads are being published, and the commensurate brand damage when associated with unsavoury environments. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg intends to hire an additional 20 000 content moderators this year because human intervention is currently the only way to filter the ‘real’ from the ‘fake’.
  • “Voice” search and commands to the likes of Google, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri is on the rise – moving from ‘early adopters’ to ‘early majority’.

What this means and what you can do


Is the full potential of mobile being maximised? We’re not talking responsive sites here – although, we’re still amazed at the number of sites that offer less-than-pleasant user experiences on mobile. We ARE talking about using the ever-present device to enrich or add more value to your customers. Some local examples who are getting it right are:

  • Sliced, a Media24 initiative that allows users to create custom news feeds (based on personal interests) that aren’t confined to one site, but pull from all the Media24 properties.
  • The Woolworths app that combines great content with personalised rewards and vouchers, removing the cumbersome ‘print and post’ way of the past; along with handy reminders to use the vouchers before they expire.

Online product searches

While Amazon might not be such a strong player in the South African context, are local organisations paying enough attention to ‘being found’ (SEO), AND measuring consumer sentiment (3rd party review sites, social media commentary, etc)?  Corporates no longer get to tell customers what they want them to hear. The playing fields have been levelled, and it’s now about a two-way conversation. Listen and respond or become irrelevant.

The customer is the reason your brand exists, and consistently delivering on your brand promise is what makes it sustainable. So while the tools to measure customer sentiment may seem costly, the insights gained are invaluable.

Some other useful tools to consider:  Brandseye, Crimson Hexagon, Meltwater

Cashless payments

While super convenient for consumers not to have to carry cash, the downside is that governments will be able to monitor every single transaction, right down to the snack bar you buy from a street vendor. Big Brother much

From crypto-currencies to Snapscan – just imagine the ramifications of a world where all your transactions are recorded, and accessible. It’s both exciting and scary. Check out Entrepreneur.com’s article on 4 Things You Should Know About Cashless Payments.

Online advertising and brand reputation

While Google advertising and programmatic advertising offers major benefits, it also means that your ad could appear in undesirable environments, because robots are (currently) unable to distinguish fake news from real news, or ‘hate speech’ from real speech. Brands need to monitor where their ads are appearing and put pressure on the ad serving platforms to be more responsible and accountable about where ads are being displayed.

Rather than focusing on the value from high-volume exposure with low-quality clicks, they should be more concerned with higher conversion rates even if it is a result of lower volume exposure  The key take-out here is that brands need to delve deep into the data to make informed decisions and not just trust that the platforms are delivering on your setup.

You need to explore, optimise and refine to ensure the ads being delivered are working with maximum ROI in mind.

On the upside, a perfect example of how machines won’t only take jobs away from humans, but because of their very “machine-ness”, will also create new jobs we wouldn’t even have imagined a few years ago contingent on our very “human-ness”.

Voice’ fast-replacing text

Technically, Siri only activates when you say “Hey, Siri” and Alexa only responds to “Alexa” (or whatever ‘wake’ word you’ve chosen)… but how do we know this is true? What if these devices are monitoring us constantly, and feeding data back to be used either for commercial gain or more nefarious purposes? Consider the recent hacking of Momentum’s records, or that Facebook ‘improperly shared’ 87 million people’s data with Cambridge Analytica. An ‘oversight’ which allegedly influenced election outcomes and political tensions. Granted, these examples have nothing to do with “voice”, but everything to do with the powerful value of data. The conspiracy theories abound – could some of them be true?

In an MIT Review last year, Rachel Metz explores the impact these digital assistants could have on children, and it’s rather worrisome. The highly likely potential of them growing up with robots that perform on demand is that they see the “master/servant” relationship as the norm. Apart from the privacy implications of kids sharing all kinds of things with inter-connected computers, will they become lazy or dictatorial or annoyed with humans that don’t do their bidding like machines do? What are we doing to prevent this and give them a more balanced view of life?

Then we also need to factor in that the main problem with AI currently is that it can’t ascertain nuances like humour, irony or sarcasm, nor can they identify whether an instruction/request is valid or not. In 2017, an episode of South Park messed with hundreds of people’s digital home assistants. So imagine the impact on thousands of households if a radio station had to broadcast “Alexa, order 200 cans of cat food”.

Challenges unique to South Africa

With the global trends unpacked, the delegates were then invited to interpret the implications for the local context. Four challenges dominated:

  • Keeping up with the trends: the need to stay on top of things, without the time or luxury of being able to trawl millions of sites.
  • Knowing your audiences: the cultural complexities, along with the many languages, that need to be understood in order to resonate with the various target markets.
  • The cost of data: it’s ridiculously expensive and prohibits both marketing efforts and the value brands can add to the broader population. For interest, compare the ‘views’ for your brand’s video against the ‘completion rate’. In all likelihood, you’ll find that most people stop watching after a few seconds. A blink in the greater scheme of things, but long enough to inform a cost-value judgment call that your video wasn’t worth the data cost
  • Old-fashioned/traditional corporates not adapting to the times – specifically when it comes to social media: they don’t understand that the publishing cycle is no longer in their control, it’s now instant. So instead of mandating smart individuals as corporate spokespeople, and equipping them with the commensurate skills, they still demand that all corporate comms gets vetted by committees. Not only losing the time-based currency of “we’re on it/we are aware”, but also negatively transforming the response from ‘human’ to ‘acceptable corporate speak’ – something that social media users detest.

Next week we’ll delve into the details – so stay tuned. And if you have any views or thoughts on today’s trends and challenges, please share it with us.