Online advertising yet to catch up in Kenya

Kenya’s advertising revenue grew exponentially over the past decade from 3.2 billion shillings in 1999 to 49.2 billion in 2009, fuelled by a fragmented audience in the country created particularly by vernacular radio station, a study by research firm Ipsos Synovate indicates.

Radio and television shared the revenues equally unlike a few years ago when radio played second fiddle to television.

Ipsos said in 2011, beverage companies spent KSh65 billion, an average of 5.4 billion shillings weekly.

Online advertising is a segment that has been missing all along from the studies that continues to be carried out. According to IPSOS Synovate’s managing director Maggie Ireri, ‘such data has been hard to come by.’

Globally, social media revenue hit 10.3 billion in 2011, a growth of 41.4 percent from the previous period, according to data from IT research specialists Gatner, with projections that it could hit $29 billion in 2012 and $40 billion by 2015.

Although the data is not available in Kenya, a number of companies can be said to have established themselves on social media mainly telecommunication companies. Politicians also seem to value the Internet with all aspiring presidential candidates in the country having launched web portals and their adverts all over the social media, as HumanIPO recently reported.

Other top advertisers in the beer industry are playing catch up, although international brands in the market like Guinness have embraced the idea. Tusker Lager spent KSh479 million, Pilsner Lager KSh159 million, Tusker Malt KSh41 million and Summit Lager KSh39.8 million.

Coca Cola, the largest soft drink beverage company which spends hundreds of millions of shillings in advertising (671 million in 2011), is yet to embrace online marketing in Kenya. The company is however exploring this form of advertising through Google, a source has revealed.

This neglect on a segment that has a potential to overtake traditional media with its effectiveness highly rated given its ability to segment age groups and geographical barriers.

One of the few statistics on the Kenya online market indicate Kenya delivered approximately 35 million mobile Web ad impressions for around 50 mobile websites, according to Inmobi’s 2009 data.

Another global mobile ad network BuzzCity study in 2010 shows Kenya was position six globally, with a 243 percent growth in mobile advertising ahead of countries like Canada, and the U.K.

Google Kenya, among the major players in the spectrum, was not available for comment.   

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