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SPARK Media extends reach of ROOTS data beyond agencies


ROOTS is South Africa’s largest urban community survey providing powerful insights into consumer’s purchasing behaviour and media consumption habits at a local level. Previously ROOTS data has primarily been accessible to media agencies and SPARK Media’s direct clients. Until now.

Through BMi Research and a bespoke software programme Storyteller by SPARK Media, the reach of ROOTS data can now extend to researchers, strategic, creative and marketing departments of any corporate organisation. “The data from ROOTS’ previous surveys, 2007 to 2013, will all be incorporated into Storyteller and will include data from our 2019 study when it’s released. This will effectively allow marketers and brand strategists to predict consumer trends into 2020/21,” says SPARK Media’s Joint CEO Marc du Plessis.

“Storyteller will allow data to be presented in a more visually appealing, geocentric format for easy implementation into presentations and strategy documents, moving away from our team physically putting together PowerPoint slides per area, by category. Marketers simply need to request their required variables and the Storyteller programme does the rest.”

Gareth Pearson, CEO at BMi Research adds: “For the past 30 years ROOTS has been South Africa’s largest urban, community level quantitative survey providing marketers with demographic information around purchasing behaviour in a number of categories including readership, shopping, banking, digital, entertainment and travel.

Storyteller will provide detailed insights into what appliances, furniture or digital equipment they have purchased recently and whether they have bought DIY or even painting tools. It can also reveal if they visit casinos, fast food outlets or shopping centres; how often they buy groceries, what they buy, which supermarket they shop at and whether they plan their purchases.

Other insights include who they bank with, what accounts they hold as well as the type of insurance they buy and which insurers they use; their main form of transport, how many cars they own per household, the cars they drive, how often they visit a garage forecourt and what they buy there.”

“We’re very excited about our partnership with BMi Research to massively extend the reach of ROOTS so that many more can benefit from the hyper local data we have available into how people shop and behave at community level, which just isn’t available through any other research tool,” concludes du Plessis.

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’.

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Primedia Unlimited’s Bionic rewarded by Facebook

Facebook Marketing Partners has identified Bionic, powered in sub-Sahara by Primedia Unlimited, as its 2017 Innovation Spotlight Award winner in the Omnichannel: Online and Offline Sales category.  The awards call for the year’s most exciting new technologies built on Facebook’s Application Programming Interface (API) to solve marketing challenges.

“Bionic is a platform designed to manage and automate online advertising spend. It works with companies to extract customer insights from the data they already have. At the same time, Bionic leverages Facebook’s Offline Conversions API to measure in-store transactions as they occur—tying companies’ digital ad efforts to offline shopping behaviours such as purchases and coupon usage,” said Facebook Marketing Partners in a statement.

Ryan Williams, Group CEO for Primedia Unlimited adds: “It’s been just over 6 months since Bionic entered the African market to service South Africa and our neighbouring countries and we’re already seeing fantastic results and benefits for our media agency and marketing clients,” he says. “We’re very proud to be associated with a company as innovative as Bionic that seamlessly aligns offline marketing efforts with targeted online opportunities.”

Today’s consumers aren’t only dealing with thousands of advertising and communications messages each day; they’re dealing with mostly irrelevant messages. “Bionic hyper targets consumers according to their online and offline purchasing behaviour by aligning with point of sale technology on the ground,” says Ryan.

Currently operating in 25 markets globally, BIONIC has seen rapid growth in recent years and sees the diverse African landscape as a key territory for the future. With their Intelligent Automation features supported by an experienced team, Bionic has a proven track record globally with many major direct clients and agency partners.

For more information about Bionic or Primedia Unlimited visit

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Research Fusion soon to be a reality in South Africa

The ‘Holy Grail’ of media research will soon become reality in the form of Fusion, offering multiple hub and donor studies. The Publisher Research Council (PRC) and Nielsen recently held an industry workshop to discuss exactly how Fusion works and all its possible survey options. 

 The days of one dimensional AMPS numbers are long gone and in media planning and buying, the ideal has always been to know as much as possible about the consumer to enable more accurate and timeous branded messages. These include demographics, geography, mood, activities at time of impact, touch-points during the day, retail behaviour, brand repertoire, media consumption and much more. Much of this information is available, but it is scattered all over the place, contained within multiple studies, panels and sales data.  Fusion provides the key to consolidating all these insights into one easily accessible place.

Apart from assisting in media planning, by fusing with ongoing sales data from scanner panels these new systems can be used at the implementation planning stage and afterwards, when linked to panels and sales data, in the post campaign stage to measure results and determine how the campaign performed.

“This is not some futuristic pipe dream that only exists in first-world markets,” says Peter Langschmidt, consultant to the PRC. “We are talking to many database and survey owners, and we could be fusing with the Nielsen FMCG Homepanel as early as the second quarter of next year after the release of PAMS in February 2018.”

Data fusion is a statistical technique that creates a single data set from the attributes from two separate data sets. All that is required is “fusion hooks” or relevant common variables on both the hub and donor studies.

The industry has moved incredibly fast since the last AMPS in 2015. In September 2017 the first full year of the Establishment Survey will be released. And within a few months there will be a full set of currency donor surveys, that could be linked together to create an essentially “single source” fused data set.  These could include published titles on PAMS, Radio and TV on BRC RAM and TAMS, Online on EM (Effective Measure), and OOH (Out of Home) on ROAD.

PAMS will have branded data and with a 20 000 sample will make it an ideal hub survey for Nielsen’s FMCG Homepanel. “The incorporation of multiple demographic, industry and lifestyle variables is at the heart of Fusion,” says Motlalepula Mmesi, researcher at the PRC. “If you have the correct “hooks” in your data, even customer databases, you can fuse with our PAMS survey. The result is much deeper research insights into your brands.”

It brings the discussion back to the differences between Fusion and Single Source. All markets fragment as the world becomes more complex and there can be no denying that the world is becoming more complicated and fragmented on a daily basis. Inevitably single source data/research will no longer be viable as there are fewer respondents per survey question, and more questions are needed to understand the complexity of life and brands, which means longer questionnaires and poor quality of responses due to respondent refusal and fatigue.

“When combined with ongoing sales and panel data, it becomes obvious why data fusion is a preferred solution worldwide,” says Terry Murphy, Head of Nielsen Watch in SA. “It is now possible to get a far more granular view of consumers, interrogate cross platform behaviour, calculate incremental unduplicated reach and define target markets based on last month’s purchases.”

PAMS could be fused with Nielsen’s FMCG Homepanel. Homepanel measures actual brand scanned purchases (not survey claimed behaviour) across 200 FMCG categories and over 2 000 brands nationally. The data is longitudinal (updated every month) and is weighted to the same IHS population data as PAMS and the ES.

Best of all this data is already paid for by subscribers, so it could be made available to agencies and advertisers for media planning purposes at an affordable cost.

The fused data will provide answers to questions about cross platform content consumption; longitudinal actual product and brand consumption like which titles (digital and print) are best suited for my target? What’s most effective in driving unique reach for my plan? How can I evaluate the effectiveness of secondary targets beyond demographics, including segmentation?

“A hub or establishment survey with donor currencies and purchases is based on global best practice, and produces vastly more insightful and real data,” concludes Langschmidt. “Although we can fuse with any survey, provided that we have the relevant common variables in both, the process has to start somewhere and it’s great for our publishers, that we, together with Nielsen, are pioneering brand and media fusion in the advertising industry.”

For additional information and research on reading, visit

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Gareth Grant joins The MediaShop

The MediaShop’s Johannesburg MD, Kgaugelo Maphai, has announced the appointment of Gareth Grant as Business Unit Manager to head up the Nedbank account.

 “We’re delighted to have Gareth on board and we’re already seeing the positive impact and attitude he has been displaying in the few short days since he’s been with the team,” says Kgaugelo. “He has experienced both the agency and client side of media and brings with him a fresh perspective on managing a financial account.”

 Having joined the advertising industry in 2005, Gareth quickly made a name for himself in the industry. As a newbie he was invited to guest lecturer at the AAA during 2006 and 2008, providing unique insights into his first impressions of the workplace. From his humble beginnings at UM as a media planner, Gareth quickly proved his worth over the next few years, landing a great opportunity as Senior Media Strategist at FNB, a position he held for four years before joining The MediaShop team.

With active involvement on the AMASA committee in previous years and with two Roger Garlick Awards under his belt, Gareth has a keen eye for great pioneering media ideas and how to implement them.

 Gareth adds: “I’m very grateful to have had the working experiences I’ve had leading up to this point because I’ve been able to get a good sense of managing a client both from a business sense and from a media point of view,” he says. “The financial world is an extremely competitive category and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to see where our team can elevate Nedbank’s business even further.”

For more on The MediaShop visit, like them on Facebook: The MediaShop or follow them on Twitter @MediaShopZA


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The MediaShop talks upcoming media trends

Future Media Trends

The Media Crystal Ball: Sean Sullivan – Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop

Futurists like Ray Kurzweil, author of “The Singularity is Near”, have always fascinated me with their sci-fi predictions for humankind, so much so that I thought we’d explore 10 themes that are shaping the media platforms of tomorrow. Let’s contemplate how close we as marketers actually are to this new reality because quite frankly, some of Ray’s predictions are a little too far removed from our everyday life to get our heads around.

Not everything is changing. If you go into a remote village, things remain pretty much the same. When you go into a pub, you don’t for instance order a pint through a chat app, and it wouldn’t arrive in a 3D printed glass. In amongst all this talk of change, we need to be mindful of what is and what isn’t changing.

 1. Abundance

We need to be conscious of the incredible amount of content that’s available, but also the complete lack of attention most people pay to it because, in truth, the amount of content in the world is paralysing us all.

Our phones have started creating ‘media moments’, and increasingly phones can create them wherever we are. This is not a particularly sustainable future. We’re always designing adverts with the assumption that people we’re targeting have spare capacity and time.

The notion that people have additional time to read, watch and listen to what media owners have created is one which will result in an increasingly aggressive competition for eyeballs.

The current breakneck rate at which we engage with media means that we’re mentally saturated and our attention spans are limited. Grabbing meaningful attention is the greatest challenge marketers have today.

 2. Digital disappears

Many people have critiqued the industry’s obsession with the term ‘digital’. Much of this is because we didn’t grow up with the technology, and can still estimate how much of our time we spend ‘online’. But that’s no longer a concrete concept. Online just is.

The younger you are, the less the concept of ‘time spent online’ makes any sense. For 14 year olds, for there to be an ‘online’, there would have to be an ‘offline’. We talk about social media as if it’s an activity that people do rather than just the way things are.

This is especially true with smartphones; it could easily be argued that we are constantly online.
This obsession with digital being an ‘activity’ is laughable. There are devices like Google Home which will bring these ideas forward and blur the lines further – as an internet connected device, it doesn’t look how we assume it should – it has no screen!

We need to stop thinking of ‘online’ and ‘digital’ as things we physically do, but rather take them as an unspoken part of our everyday lives. Digital is a lot like oxygen. It’s there all the time and surrounds us every moment of every day. We can’t base our businesses on the ‘digital’ concept, it has to be an integral part of everyday life.

 3. The horizontalisation of media

Another age-related issue which is affecting the industry’s ability to innovate is our need to put things neatly into verticals. Facebook, YouTube and Netflix creeping into the TV space is a long-overdue wake-up call in terms of how we perceive media channels going forward.

We still have media ‘channels’ which are vertical silos, but it doesn’t really work in the same old format anymore. Phones can do everything in the world, TV’s are almost there too, and the industry isn’t segmented vertically but horizontally. There’s no reason why Facebook can’t control TV’s, or why Spotify can’t launch a video channel.

Soon we’re going to have screens everywhere. Probably the most important screen will continue to be our phone. While many people are talking about what comes next, it may just be that we’ve reached the best thing for us already.

 4 – Lines blur

It’s not just media channels that are blurring. The very devices which we reach people on are defying categorisation. What is TV? Is it a screen we watch or just context for consumption? Is it a delivery mechanism or is watching TV simply described by the length of a particular programme? If it’s delivered through the internet is it still TV – is Netflix TV? Is watching a highlights reel on my phone TV?

We never spend time defining what we actually mean by TV any more. We need to get better at understanding that the notion of TV doesn’t matter or exist in its true sense anymore – it’s about video and making world class content that’s right for the context.

But it’s not all challenging. This could well one day be seen as the golden age of video. If you work in video and content you have never had it so good. You can reach so many people now; anyone in the world and it’s both personal and interactive.

 5 – More intimate screens and data

Personalisation is becoming more and more…well…personal with the amount of data organisations can gather and wield at scale. With much of the content that’s available, the opportunities have been wasted to really make the most of the format.

Screens have gone from massive cinema screens, to family TV’s, to laptops, to phones. The phone is the singular most personal screen – you usually watch it alone. It knows what you’re planning on doing later that day. It has all of your browsing history, it knows what the weather is like where you are…it’s the richest, most personal, most immersive device we’ve ever known. And we’ve just taken what we had previously and sort of made it fit.

We really need to get to grips with the amazing opportunities phones present; less ‘Big Data’ and more intimate data.

 6 – New realities

VR and ‘new realities’ frontiers are undoubtedly the hottest topic in media right now.

VR is about taking you away from everything in your environment, to a more interesting place.

What these new realities represent is an entirely new way to think about advertising. We always assumed the screens were the canvas, and there’s a frame around what we’re doing. But AR and VR transform all that.

The worst thing we could possibly do with them is take our current way of thinking about advertising and shoehorn it in. We need a whole new approach.

 7 – The predictive web

Another trend which will be hugely disruptive to the industry but will be a barely perceptible change to the way people use the internet will be an increasingly sophisticated predictive web.

We’ve only ever known an internet that we went to. We went to the search bar – it was always about us and what we wanted to find out.

We’re now able to predict what we want to do. The internet is less something that we go to and more this pervasive interface that tells us what we want to do and where we want to go. The new internet will give us the right message at the right time at the right place.

 8 – The ecommerce separation

Separating ‘buying’ and ‘shopping’ may not seem like the most obvious trend to pick up on, but the acts themselves are very different:

We tend to have actions and reactions, and we’re going to see the act of buying separating from the act of shopping, buying will be the world of the search bar, subscriptions, dash buttons, and the purchase funnel will be a simple swipe. Shopping will be created around themes, content marketing, experiences, and adding more joy into the purchase process.

To adapt to this trend, let’s make things easy or beautiful – if it’s neither, it has no place in the future.

 9 – Vanishing interfaces, new inputs

Chat bots and personal interactions will fill a vital role in customer and audience relationships. Part of this is the ‘vanishing interface’; the concept that our primary interactions with brands may not be through screens at all.

There has never been a better time to talk to people – the mobile interface allows companies to have a one-to-one conversation with its customers. There are so many rich ways to interact – there are lots of exciting opportunities in voice recognition and conversation.

There’s also a movement away from screens – Alexa, wearables, and we could be navigating a world where information comes to you without a screen.

 10 – AI

The final trend is unsurprisingly AI, but the argument focuses on putting its potential at the centre of future strategies, and not making the same mistakes some companies made with the internet.

Really profound technologies need to be applied to the centre of our business – we’ve done a lot of things wrong by applying them at the edge. Uber exists because of the mobile phone, not because of the app, but because the company knew that once they knew your location, it could all work.

It’s possible that the next wave of big, innovative companies are ones who have built themselves around AI.

Businesses need to stop basing their future strategies on what they had done in the past.

We need to learn from the past, but look forward, not back. I’d love us to start with a blank sheet of paper – amazing new possibilities with technology. Don’t look at what you did last year.

So there are some big lessons for media organisations to take away from these predictions. Be forward-thinking; the vertical ‘channel’ ways of thinking are long gone. The innovators are the ones who have ‘digital’ not at their heart, but as the lifeblood – essential, fluid, and touching every corner of the business.

 Source: The Media Briefing. Tom Goodwin: Changing Media Summit 2017


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The bright value of Local News Networks

In a recent educational and awareness campaign for national power provider Eskom, SPARK Media demonstrated the value of hyper local online educational content to areas that would benefit from a new power development, exceeding expectations in the process.

The Caxton Local News Network (LNN) comprises of 77 hyper local online news sites across South Africa and is often first with breaking news.

“To take advantage of the hyper local aspect that the LNN offers, Eskom targeted the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West to educate, inform and influence local consumers  to become legal, safe, smart and paying consumers of electricity by intensifying efforts around its behavioural change campaign, ‘Operation Khanyisa’,” says SPARK Media’s Joint CEO Marc du Plessis.

“Eskom faced unique challenges in the different provinces but through the use of our LLN sites we were able to communicate the possible issues regarding electricity theft and how it affects and impacts the community. Secondary objectives included educating readers with regards to service delivery.”

For a period of seven weeks, LNN websites across the three provinces carried articles, placed strategic content on their social media platforms, website advertising and mobile sticky banners.

“We expected to achieve good results for the client, but were exceptionally pleased with the average time readers spent on the articles and advertorials,” says du Plessis. “Average time spent on articles during the campaign and across the sites increased by nearly 30%, indicating that the information and educational campaign supplied by client was being taken note of.”

Other interesting stats included excellent click through rates (CTR) and impressions served.

“It is only through our research and core understanding that people shop locally that we can deliver communication in an online environment where consumers are already primed to receive and engage with the advertisers content,” concludes du Plessis.

To find out more, 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’.

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Cultural appreciation starts with every one of us

South Africa’s vastly divergent make up of cultures means that we cannot assume to know everything about our fellow South Africans. By learning more about each other, we evoke a greater sense of peer to peer understanding, more beneficial communication and we can collect vital insights into different cultures. These insights can be used not only on a personal level but for businesses and marketers to correctly engage with their target markets.

To this end, media strategy and buying agency The MediaShop has initiated a string of Cultural Appreciation sessions in the agency where one culture is explored each month amongst staff. The first presentation explored the Xhosa people, their nuances, traditions, language, social norms, food and lifestyle. The meal served on the day in the staff canteen was traditional Xhosa food.

Kgaugelo Maphai, Johannesburg MD says: “As a business and as individuals, we realise that we need to have a deeper understanding of the broader South African people. There is a lot we can learn just from our own staff and their varied backgrounds. The insights gleaned from these ongoing sessions will also be taken into the work that we produce for our clients. A better understanding of a person’s culture makes for markedly more effective advertising.”

“We’re an agency wanting to be driven by insights and not just by the research tools that are available to us,” he says. “This initiative is just the beginning of a much larger insights entrenchment plan within the agency. We’ll be exploring various diverse cultures that exist within SA including Jewish, Indian, Coloured, Muslim backgrounds, each with their own wonderful nuances that we need to tap into.”

Kgaugelo goes on to say that we assume that black people are homogenous, that black people all have the same traditions and social norms. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Our Cultural Appreciation sessions will allow our staff, including our black staff, to learn more about other black people’s cultures and nuances.”

Insights gleaned from the first workshop include:

  • Amaxhosa are the second biggest Nguni nation in South Africa
  • They mainly reside in the Eastern and Western Cape with the most prominent towns being Umtata, East London (Emonti), PE (Ebhayi) and King Williams Town (Eqonce).
  • The initiation process for boys is called Ulwaluko, after which boys are accepted as men. The initiation for the transition from girls to women is Intonjane.
  • Hello – molo
  • Thank you – enkosi or ndiyabulela
  • You’re welcome – wamkelekile

Lisa Ganamfana, Digital Campaign Manager at The MediaShop, and originally from the Western Cape was part of the first presentation team. She adds: “The whole point of these culture presentations is for us as the staff of The MediaShop to get to know each other a bit better than we already do. There is no better way to appreciate a person than understanding their culture as it is a big part of who they are.

The presentation also created some kind of curiosity in people’s minds because they went on to Google and to find out more,” she says. “Additionally, it assists us with insights that go into our campaigns for our clients and makes a huge difference to the work we present to clients.”

“Our Cultural Appreciation sessions take place at our monthly staff meeting. Our next presentation is focusing on the Indian culture. We’ve also partnered with SABC Radio to bring their presenters in as language specialists to teach staff how to pronounce certain words. Our first session saw us hosting Amaza Ntshanga from Umhlobo Wenene.

We’re very excited to see the change these sessions will have on our team and in the work we produce over the coming months, and we look forward to learning a ton of new insights,” says Kgaugelo.

For more on The MediaShop visit, like them on Facebook: The MediaShop or follow them on Twitter @MediaShopZA

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