Why sub-Saharan Africa needs to adopt programmatic media buying

Now is the time to embrace programmatic media buying in Sub Saharan Africa

Programmatic Media buying is still in it’s infancy in sub-Saharan Africa, but the opportunity for brands to start using advertising technology and more consumer data to increase their relevancy and impact when communicating with consumers can’t be ignored any longer.

 What is Programmatic Media Buying?

As recently explained by Jaco Lintvelt, Head of Amnet Sub Sharan Africa, at the #DANDTKenya event the Amnet version of programmatic media buying is people using technology and valuable data in order to make more informed decisions on firstly, where to purchase media and then secondly, to get better insights into the creative material that should be used to have a meaningful “conversation” with either existing or potential consumer.

Changing consumer in an ever changing media landscape: 

In recent times the rapid adoption of technology has changed the way consumers are engaging with brands in a digital world. The changes are forcing media agencies to act quicker and be more adaptive with their strategies.  The fact that technology is now allowing us to do real time media buying has drastically changed our approach in how we plan and buy media.

Furthermore, the fragmentation of audiences across devices and new consumer journeys requires agencies to bring in technology to create better efficiencies to keep up with all the different channels and opportunities there is in the media landscape.

Brands and agencies have to be aware of the fact that consumers have never been this empowered and that they have multiple decisions to make a day with limited time.

The acceleration of display advertising spending serves as an indication of changes in the media landscape over recent years. Display Advertising is no longer dependent on media as a proxy for audience; but it can be transacted on a very granular level with data informing the decision.

The key to adoption is to keep programmatic media buying simple: 

Traditionally media agencies have not been good at making things simpler for clients and breaking it down. Dentsu Aegis Network, has realised that we need to take our clients on a digital journey and assist in every aspect, every day to be successful in the digital world.

The journey is focused on thinking differently about the 3 core components that are fundamentally required for successful communication strategies.

Data, Creative and Media -The new media hierarchy in the digital age: 

Nowaday’s the order has changed – everything we do needs to be data driven and in some way informed.


Data, Data, Data – Start to use it even if it is in small quantities: 

How do we currently do things? You would agree with me that even though data is a big buzzword, how much of what we do today is really data driven? Not a lot. It still happens that creative material is developed in silos and then we have to go and find audiences and placements that are relevant to the creative. That is fundamentally wrong.

There is always data available – partner and collaborate with publishers and 3rd parties to unlock it even if it starts in small quantities is crucial to build a better understanding of your consumers beyond just demographical interest.

In order to do this make sure your data is all in one place. From there clients can combine the data sources to get a better understanding.

Today, the most sophisticated ad tech platforms empower marketers to build customized algorithms that govern when and where creative gets served based on data as diverse as weather patterns and psychographic profiles.

Using consumer data in meaningful ways can inform us before a campaign begins on how we can save money, by targeting the correct target markets.


Data will also change the roles and responsibilities of each partner in the communication ecosystem. Starbucks can easily become one of the biggest data providers in the travel space, they have 21 000 stores with many of them at airports, where people spend a great deal of time in transit. They have interesting information on consumers’ behaviour when traveling.

An increased use in data is crucial in communication and if not used smartly then your communication will no longer be relevant to your consumers. 

Creative Material: Real Time Dynamic Adjustments: 

Creative material has become more personalised and relevant with the usage of data. Instead of something that was always developed before a campaign, creative is now real time and can be dynamic to make sure the right messages are landed with the consumers based on their behaviour, interest and geographic location. It can even be taken a step further, when a consumer interacts with a specific piece of creative material, say a specific chocolate advert then the retailer’s website and landing page can be directly related to what the consumer saw in the advert.

One message to a mass audience is not good enough, with the help of creative templates it does not need to be expensive or difficult to have hundreds and even thousands of pieces of creative that can be used at the start of the campaign to test which ones are performing the best. 

Media Owner –Access to most media owners and inventory sources: 

When programmatic media buying started, there was the notion that it was only the remnant inventory from publishers that was traded in this way. Today, this can’t be any further from the truth. Performance and branding campaigns are served on quality and brand safe media owner websites that are also embracing programmatic tools in order to make their inventory more valuable. Publishers are overlaying consumer data over the impressions they are selling and it is proving to be successful to increase results for advertisers. Advertisers can now choose which inventory they want for branding and awareness campaigns opposed to campaigns that are just focused on selling products. Mass reach and scale at the right frequencies can be achieved for clients on “premium’’ websites, should a client want that.


Three of the biggest changes:

  1. Programmatic access to most media owners are now possible.
  2. Creative execution in programmatic is not limited anymore – rich media, home page take overs, video and high impact units can be bought.
  3. These changes will again apply to all media channels going forward and not just digital display. Never before has there been a greater focus on audiences and data from advertisers Media Owners need to have a very good understanding of their audiences and be able to package and sell that in a programmatic way. 

Last, but not least: improvement and new capabilities with measurement and reporting. 

We have great technology for targeting and insights into how to best design relevant creatives, to target the right users at a time that they would engage. At the end of the day we will not see an improvement or more insights if we continue to track the same meaningless metrics that we have been doing with traditional display advertising.

We have to look beyond metrics like click through rates and likes as we are now able to allocate budgets to the channels and executions that drive sales, brand recall and ultimately business outcomes there is a great opportunity to identify trends and opportunities that can be used in targeting from measured consumer behaviour.

In closing – in a technology driven future, people and machines will be more powerful than machines in isolation.  

We have to be ready for a data driven world, where we will talk about technology and data in extensive detail – but we should never forget that technology alone will not be enough and that the consumers’ needs to be at the center of our strategy. Advertising technology will only add value if it is used to execute a well though through media strategy so we can make sure we are reaching the right consumers that we need to inform to engage with our clients.

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