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The Publisher Research Council invites the industry to an immersion day


The Publisher Research Council (PRC) has set aside the afternoon of the 11th July to spend with members of the industry to explore recent research changes and answer any questions surrounding the Establishment Survey (ES), SEMs (Socio-Economic Measure), their recent READ studies and the role that the PRC has to play.

 “As a JIC (Joint Industry Council) we must have collaborative meetings with agencies and advertisers in our industry. We need an open forum where we can discuss the ES, LSM’s, SEMs and any other queries media planners and clients have in a relaxed open workshop. We want to assist marketers and media planners when it comes to day to day planning,” says Peter Langschmidt, consultant to the PRC.

“The PRC will not only present insights, but more importantly is looking for feedback on how we are doing as an industry body, how useful our research is, what’s working, what’s not and what else can we do to make planner’s lives easier.”

The afternoon will take the format of a workshop, with short presentations on questions received from the industry and include an overview of the PAMS reading currency survey and its release date. Terry Murphy MD of Nielsen Watch will discuss Fusion and the exciting project of fusing Nielsen Consumer Panel FMCG purchase data with PRC surveys.

The era of hub and donor surveys is here, and this opens up many new opportunities in research. In some countries up to 19 surveys are fused into a single customer and market view.

The ‘immersion day’ will be hosted at the Bryanston Country Club from 3pm on the 11th July, followed by drinks and an informal networking session.

“We’re encouraging all of our industry partners and suppliers to pop in, have a chat, give us feedback, and submit any queries you may have on any research,” concludes Langschmidt.

PRC Workshop E-Invite

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SPARK Media’s clients have heart and talent!

SPARK Media’s clients, friends and partners proved, that apart from having great golfing, bowling and general knowledge skills at their You’ve Got Talent Games Day, that they also have unmeasured generosity, raising unexpected funds for SPARK Media’s sponsored children’s home, Hayani.

“The aim of the day was to interact with clients and agencies in an informal and fun way, to thank them for their ongoing support and to build relationships with new clients,” says Gill Randall, Joint CEO of SPARK Media. “We wanted to include different elements on the day (golf, bowls and quiz) to ensure everyone would be included and the ‘you’ve got talent’ idea was born.”

Hosted at Bryanston Country Club, the various activities ended around the same time so that guests could socialize and network on the patio while enjoying a quick shoulder massage from Hands on Retreat. Prize giving and the raffle set the tone of the evening, with amazing prizes up for grabs that included TV’s, phones, soundbars and holidays. In true SPARK Media fashion, it didn’t stop there and after the three course meal, the lights dimmed and the dance floor came to life!

As part of prize-giving SPARK Media raffled off prizes donated by Winchester Marketing, Philipps and The Coffee Co for their CSI charity, Hayani. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank David Miller from Two Old Dogs, Piet Greyling our Caxton Group MD, Neil Mclean Hi Fi Corp and Tony van Blerk from Bradlows for going beyond the call and donating generously to our charity,” says Randall.

“Additionally, we would also like to thank Graceland, Hi Fi Corp, Makro, Health Spa’s, The Grill House, Ocean Basket, Ocean Eyewear, Powerade, Bryanston Country Club, Tsogo Sun, Busby, Energizer, Rovos Rail and Spar for generously donating all of the fantastic prizes.”

“If you weren’t there, you certainly missed out on a great afternoon filled with laughs and good company. We’ve had fantastic feedback from those that attended,” concludes Randall. “Who knows, this may just become an annual event where the winners will be required to defend their titles.”

To find out more or to connect, discuss or engage with SPARK Media, call 010 492 8390, visit, follow us on Twitter – or find ‘SPARK Media’ (sparkmediasa) on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Spark Media DNA

Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents a myriad of print and digital products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’

Hot Beatz Party at Emerald Resort & Casino’s refreshed Aquadome!

Emerald Resort & Casino’s popular indoor water park Aquadome will be hosting the epic Hot Beatz party with celebrity DJs Roger Goode and Twins on Deck on 30 June.

“We would like to welcome everyone back to Aquadome after the refresh,” says Emerald Resort & Casino’s Marketing Executive, Tanuja Gangabishun. “There have been some great upgrades that, besides looking good, will make Aquadome THE party venue in the Vaal where we plan to host at least one epic party a month.

Our first party at Aquadome will be Hot Beatz and it promises to be a night to remember with the superstar DJs that have been invited to perform”

The most popular attractions like the waterslide, lazy river and a shipwreck still remain. Besides all the usual annual maintenance such as draining and repainting all the pools and repairs to equipment, Aquadome has undergone some visual and physical upgrades that include a new permanent DJ booth, new tiling, new flooring, brighter lighting and vast tracts of Astroturf.

During the day Aquadome will be its usual tropical water wonderland, while at night Aquadome is able to transform into an innovative party playground with colourful lighting and permanent DJ booth. Security and safety remains a priority at the Resort and trained, experienced lifeguards on duty will ensure that guests are well looked after.

Emerald Resort & Casino will be hosting its inaugural party, aptly named Hot Beatz, on Friday, 30 June 2017. Roger Goode, 5FM presenter and renowned DJ, and Twins on Deck will be headlining the acts accompanied by local DJ’s. The sizzling party starts at 19h00 and will continue into the small hours of the morning. Tickets are R150 and available from Computicket.

“We know that many guests travel quite far to access these facilities and we’re always looking to upgrade these and make them even more user friendly to the public,” concludes Gangabishun. “Visitors to Aquadome will certainly notice a vast difference to their overall Aquadome experience.”

Emerald Resort & Casino.

Tel:                              016 982 8000



Twitter:                        @emerald_resort





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Google’s new algorithm, lets call it Fred

Jarred Mailer-Lyons, Digital Media Strategist at The MediaShop

Every year, Google changes its search algorithm around 600 times. While most of these changes are insignificant to advertisers and brands, occasionally there are major algorithmic updates that rock the industry. These changes can be potential game changers for brands and also significantly impact a site’s rankings. You can call the latest one Fred. For now.

For brands and agencies that rely on Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as a key business driver, knowing the release dates of these Google algorithm updates can help unpack changes in rankings and organic website traffic to ultimately improve SEO results. Some of the major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on search over the past several years include five main updates. These have been:


The Panda update was a major algorithm update that hit sites hard, affecting up to 12% of search results. Panda was mainly focused on low-quality content sites with high advertising to content ratios, and a number of other quality issues. This was a little different from other algorithm updates in that Panda was more about on-site issues.

Duplicate content was one of Panda’s major issues as it affected multiple URL’s with the same content. While it wasn’t technically penalised, duplicate content can still sometimes impact search engine rankings. When there are multiple pieces of content in more than one location on the web, it can be difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query.

Perceived ‘thin’ content also fast became an issue, which was affected by this update. Thin content was a naming convention that referred to low quality pages that add little to no value to the user. Examples of thin content include duplicate pages, automatically generated content or doorway pages. This update however affected a lot of snippet pieces of content, which included news sites, blog posts etc.

Panda also looked at the Click Through Rates (CTR) and Bounce Rates – the user experience on site was a major focus of the Panda updates and the best way to measure it was through user engagement and time spent on site. Ultimately Panda required sites to up their game in terms of usability, user experience, creating meaningful and engaging content and of course refraining from creating duplicating thin content.


The focus of the Penguin update was on external linking. If a brand had a poor link profile that did not relate back to the content of the site that a person was linking to then this would affect the algorithm negatively. This created a domino effect on the page rankings and quality score. Penguin was a major algorithm update that targeted sites spamming its search engine results, in particular it targeted sites that were buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

Another issue that this update focused on was anchor text. This is the clickable text in a hyperlink. SEO best practices dictate that anchor text must be relevant to the page you’re linking a user through to, rather than providing generic or unrelated text. The update also focused on the issue of keyword stuffing, in which a web page is loaded with keywords in the meta tag coding or in the content of a web page in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines.


Hummingbird took into account more than 200 minor and major changes and was an attempt by Google to provide better responses to voice queries, specifically within the mobile space. However what Google actually wanted to gain out of this algorithm update was to give the end user the right answers to their questions, the correct facts and statistics, and articles that were dense with high quality related content. This type of information started to allow brands to surface organically as they provided value to the end user by giving them more in-depth information around their search query.


The Pigeon update focused on local SEO, which drastically changed the way Google interprets, modifies and handles location results. For example: the query ‘Johannesburg restaurants’ started ranking SEO results substantially higher than something more generic like ‘Greek Restaurants’. The query results on Google Search vs Google Maps were significantly different before this update took effect. This algorithm connected web and map search in a more cohesive way. In 2014, Yelp confronted Google for apparently disregarding its major local review site in Google’s search results. The Pigeon update then corrected this problem, and put Yelp specific queries, among other review sites, ahead of its own which placed greater general emphasis and weighting on directories and directory listings.

 Fred (New unconfirmed SEO ranking)

It’s been about a month since there was some talk around the new update called Fred. The latest chatter seems to be linked to ‘quality’ and not necessarily ‘content quality’ related but again this is just the chatter.

While Google remains vague about what this update specifically focused on, it has been around long enough to guage their direction. As some of the modifications have started affecting traffic and rankings, certain of the research has started to show that if a site’s rankings are heavily dependent on multiple long-tail keywords and the content that matches those keywords was written before 2014, then those sites would have been affected.

Basically, if Fred identified any site content as invaluable, low quality, outdated, or too ad-heavy then rankings were guaranteed to start seeing massive drops. Also, backlinks to the main site with old content has started seeing a clamp down by the update. Since low backlinks and low quality content often go hand in hand, this correlation makes it difficult to determine which, if not both, factors in driving the changes in rankings.

So what do we take out of all of this – basically, change is the only constant in SEO. Even though it is a relatively new industry and Google updates their algorithm on a daily basis – the parameters are constantly affected and sites are forced to adapt. So if the only constant is change then let’s embrace it, learn from it and be better at what we do.

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New local paper, The Zululand Mail launches

Local community newspaper, The Zululand Mail, part of the Zululand Observer stable, has been launched in KwaZulu Natal to service the Melmoth, Eshowe and Gingindlovu areas. The paper will be represented by SPARK Media.

“The three Zululand towns of Melmoth, eShowe and Gingindlovu form a micro-economic hub with Melmoth and Gingindlovu having both recently acquired large shopping centres with major chain stores anchoring these developments,” says SPARK Media’s Channel Manager, Graham Sinclair.

“This means that many residents of these towns are becoming increasingly independent and not as reliant as they were in the past on the larger neighbouring towns of Ulundi and Empangeni, necessitating the need for its own community paper.”

The paper has a distribution of 8000 copies and is aimed at the upper income earning consumer. The Zululand Mail will meet the needs of these three closely knit communities, bound together by agricultural and tourism enterprises.

To raise awareness of the launch, SPARK Media invited a handful of clients and agency representatives to experience the Zululand areas first hand. “It was the perfect way to highlight all the major development taking place in the area from a retail perspective,” he says. “We visited Empangeni and Richards Bay, the two major hubs in the area. Our clients were treated to a two night stay at the beautiful Thula-Thula private game reserve, which is part and parcel of the Anthony family legacy, better known for its patron, the late Lawrence Anthony, the Elephant Whisperer.”

Between game drives and soaking up the splendour of this magical place, clients received a presentation on the Zululand Observer media offering and its proud history.

“As community newspapers are one of the few categories to buck the declining print trend, we are always looking at increasing our footprint, providing advertisers with the key to unlocking successful marketing campaigns,” states Gill Randall, Joint CEO of SPARK Media. “Research clearly indicates that people shop locally, and with this in mind The Zululand Mail provides advertisers another opportunity to reach these consumers at a micro-level.”

To find out more, or to connect, discuss or engage with SPARK Media, call 010 492 8390, visit, follow us on Twitter – or find ‘SPARK Media’ (sparkmediasa) on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Spark Media DNA

Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents a myriad of print and digital products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.


King Tha to perform at Emerald Resort & Casino for #OneNightOnly

Thandiswa Mazwai, aka ‘King Tha’ will be performing at Emerald Resort & Casino on Tuesday, 8 August 2017 for #OneNightWith. Women’s Day is the very next day, making it the ideal night out to experience one of South Africa’s finest female contemporary singers.

“Emerald Resort & Casino will once again be hosting one of South Africa’s leading AfroSoul female singers in August,” says Emerald Resort & Casino’s Marketing Executive, Tanuja Gangabishun. “King Tha has certainly made a name for herself since she started singing in 1998 with Bongo Maffin.”

“Based on the previous successes of our brand ‘One Night With’, we booked Thandiswa to perform her latest music. We know that our visitors will be most appreciative of this popular singer and her support acts,” says Leolize Naidoo, Events Manager at Emerald Resort & Casino.

Thandiswa went solo in 2004 with her debut album Zabalaza, which went double platinum and won numerous awards. Today her compositions include traditional Xhosa rhythms, mbaqanga, reggae, funk, kwaito and jazz while melding traditional with modern and rural with urban.

As August is Women’s Month, the show has an all female line-up that includes Kelly Khumalo as the opening act, local DJ, Chainz and favourite SABC2 presenter, BA Nhlapo as MC.

Tickets are available from Computicket and are priced at R250 (regular seating) and R500 golden circle seating. Doors open at 18h00 and the show commences at 20h00. All tickets purchased are entered into a lucky draw where the winner will enjoy a stay for two at the 4-star Emerald Hotel on the night of the show which includes the Hotel’s, now famous, buffet breakfast. The winner will be drawn on 30 June 2017 and announced on Emerald Resort & Casino’s Social Media platforms.

“Previous Emerald Resort & Casino One Night With shows sold out early and many golden circle tickets have already been sold out, so plan ahead,” concludes Gangabishun. “Book tickets now, book accommodation with us and enjoy the show.”

Emerald Resort & Casino.

Tel:                              016 982 8000



Twitter:                        @emerald_resort

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The more you Read the more you Earn

The Publisher Research Council (PRC) says that insights from the Establishment Survey (ES) show that people who read, generally earn around 50% more their non-reading counterparts, across the entire spectrum of society. #ReadToEarn

“Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count,” says Peter Langschmidt, consultant to the PRC.

According to statistics pulled from ES, only one third of South Africans read*. However this percentage grows the higher one moves up the SEM (Socio-Economic Measure) scale. In the SEM 8-10 segment, the majority read. Reach for print media (newspapers and magazines) by SEM increases significantly from 18% (SEM 1) to nearly 60% in SEM 10,


According to Langschmidt, “Adspend and ratings should follow money and sales, not absolute numbers of people. Do you read because you are prosperous or do the prosperous read? Actually the two are inextricably linked as it’s almost impossible for the ‘unread’ to get ahead in life, or even a job for that matter. How else do people advance or gain information about the world?”

The numbers show that while only two in ten South African households fall within the SEM 8-10 category, they earn six times more than SEM 1-4 and they have half the money that is available to buy products and services.


The ES conclusively shows that the more one reads the more one earns. The exact opposite is true for radio, the more one listens, the less one earns.

“The simple fact remains, readers are more educated, about 50% better off than non readers financially, more aware, better informed, early adopters, influencers and business decision makers,” concludes Langschmidt. “To reiterate – don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count!”

For additional information and research on reading and the full READ presentation, visit

*SOURCE: ES 6 months ended Dec 2016. Past Month cumulative readers of Newspapers or Magazines  vs. those who have not read any Newspapers or Magazines.

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Digital monopolies and the global economies that are benefitting

Speaking of Digital Monopolies

Chris Botha: Group MD of The MediaShop


The South African lexicon and news has been filled with a bunch of new phrases over the past few years. These include “monopolies”, “foreign capital” and “local first” which are all “symptoms” of a consumer market kicking back against what appears to be the product of a global economy.

A global economy can be defined as large global corporates moving into any given market, undercutting local suppliers and sucking the market dry, and not adding any value back. It’s very hard for local markets to compete against, and very difficult to stop.

South Africa is obviously not immune to this. We have seen big global banks, FMCG companies and mines come into our market and they are nearly impossible to compete with. Smaller local businesses get run down, and wiped out. They’re simply unable to compete against a global monster that can amortise cost, and improve product output over multiple markets.

I recently saw some numbers that spoke of digital media accounting for 50% of overall adspend in the UK. The 50% share that digital takes is broken up mostly into two groups, namely, Search (Google specifically), and Social (Facebook primarily).

By some indications, Search accounts for nearly 50% of digital adspend (therefore 25% of All UK adspend), and Social in the region of 20%. So in other words, these two media owners combined, account for nearly 70% of the 50% spent on digital in the UK – or – 35% OF ALL ADSPEND IN THE UK!!

Will this number grow? You betcha.

Is it enormous right now? Yes, the UK adspend market (depending on who you believe) is currently worth £20 billion. That means Facebook and Google take nearly £7 billion in ad revenue every year.

Now this raises a few tough questions in my mind. Most of which I don’t have the answer to right now (sorry). But I think if we don’t tackle them now, I fear we might end up in a very awkward position in the years to come.

Let’s assume that Digital grows to 25% share of total adspend in SA in the next five years, and that Search and Social take up 70% of that. That would mean Google and Facebook would take roughly 18% of the total adspend market in SA. Let’s also assume our market is worth R44 billion. That would mean that nearly R8 billion in advertising revenue would go to Facebook and Google alone.

That revenue is taken away from local business. What does that do to the local media scene in South Africa? That R8 billion would have paid salaries for actors, DJ’s, presenters, directors, producers and journalists. In the meantime that money is given to Monsieur’s Zuckerberg, Brin and Page to make their global monsters bigger, and even more compelling.

As Facebook and Google are “global media owners” – the only clients they will really engage with, are global clients (and their global media agencies). What does that mean for a local client or local media agency? How do our local guys deal with them competitively? Could this trend literally render local media agencies redundant? Possibly, yes.

Then there are the tax implications. Money will once again probably be filtered through Ireland, en route to Palo Alto in California and the South African Government, and more importantly, its people don’t see the massive benefit at all.

If we look at the latest product offerings coming out of Facebook and Google, it’s clear that they have their eyes firmly set on competing in every single sphere. Facebook Canvas is in essence a print leaflet. Video obviously competes with TV and Radio and their location based services challenge OOH.

I think the threat is clear. As these two monopolies (because that’s what they are) grow stronger and stronger – we will become more and more dependent on them, and in the long run, be entirely beholden to their will.

But Chris – that is the dynamic of a free market economy, I hear you say. Yes, I know, but there is something about it that doesn’t sit right, and it worries me.

So what am I saying? Should we collectively stop advertising with Google and Facebook? Absolutely not. They have a critical role to play in the consumer engagement cycle. I do however think we need to walk with eyes wide open into a media future where the production budgets for TV shows, the monies needed to keep the printers turning, and the cash required to fund our local media scene is NOT slowly being sent abroad.

I for one don’t have the answer to this one. Any suggestions?

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