The gloves came off at the recent PAMRO (Pan-African Media Research Organisation) East Africa Breakfast Session last week. The room was filled with top executives in media, advertising, marketing and research who are all gazing at the promised land but have very different ideas about how to get there.
The promised land in this case is not flowing with milk and honey, but with live data streams and juicy consumer insights that feed those companies hungry for customers and a healthy bottom line.
Patrick Quarcoo, CEO of Radio Africa Group, led a charge stating that the industry research that is currently available is defective and is thus limiting the ability of media to thrive, a view supported by many in the sector. Ipsos East Africa MD, Aggrey Oriwo, was vociferous in their defence stating that the stakeholders have balked at the idea of forking out the cash required to invest in top notch research infrastructure.
What we currently have is a hybrid system that was intended as a progressive bridge while a more comprehensive proposal for passive media measurement was tabled and developed for Kenya. So far the costs of any scheme presented have been prohibitive, but Mr. Quarcoo believes that there is affordable technology available in the world that can be adopted locally.
In the midst of that discussion, Janice Kemoli, Head of Beer at Diageo indicated that all they were interested in was to understand the consumer and to engage them effectively in order to keep their brands healthy. It is a customer first approach that puts the consumer at the front and centre of every strategy, aiming to touch their hearts and minds at appropriate times in order to drive relevant engagement and positive action.
This view was mirrored by Charles Murito, Country Manager of Google Kenya, who was baffled by the concentration on day-parts rather than the actual content. The current KARF research, he said, was stuck in the linear approach to content delivery and their data outputs were therefore obscuring the view of the most critical elements of engaging audiences. With over 50 percent of the Kenyan population with regular access to the internet the methods of delivering content is transforming before our eyes and any data collection system that we adopt must take this into account.
George Waititu of Content Aggregation Ltd. (CAL) who operate the popular paid content platform ViuSasa said that the ground had shifted under our feet and the future we were talking about was already here. People are picking their content on the go and the amount of data that CAL has collected over the last year through advanced technology is more that the15 years worth of data he churned out while he was in the research industry.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; and it’s not an oncoming train. Lenny Ng’ang’a, CEO of Ominicom Group East Africa, informed the participants that KARF (Kenya Audience Research Foundation) was in the process of engaging Government and other partners to develop a home grown solution to delivering world-class data through best practice methodology. Under this proposed system the concerns of the industry as represented by the panelists will be fully addressed and we would truly have reached the promised land.