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Pockets of opportunity can always be found in adversity

Neo Mtshatsheni, Media Strategist at The MediaShop

Despite the pandemic holding many hostage in their homes, South Africans have continued to find innovative ways to have their voices heard and to show off their skills through, for example, gaming or content creation. From a channel perspective, digital was always going to reap more benefit from this audience and the lockdown period has certainly affirmed this especially in the eSports category and on social media.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook Live have certainly proved their worth over the past few months. Moving away from posting images of themselves enjoying a meal at the coolest, trendiest restaurant or spotting their latest pair of jeans, sneakers or sunglasses, South Africa’s youth have used these platforms to engage on issues ranging from racism, GBV, etc.

IGTV (Instagram TV) saw its first Instavella created by Ayanda Mkayi which depicts the lives of individuals living in an apartment block in Johannesburg during the national lockdown, with all scenes shot individually from the actors’ homes. Shooting ads and general TV production during lockdown was prohibited and now despite the extensive safety measures that are put in place, production still falls victim to the invisible COVID-19 enemy halting production. But fresh, relatable content remains key and as there is a growing need for local content, IGTV soapies are something to look out for!

On the eSports front, South Africa may not compare to its global counterparts in terms of the sheer size of active gamers but the interest and gaming community numbers are increasing steadily and will continue to do so. For every mobile device in hand lies a gamer and current stats show that 71% of connected South Africans play games exclusively from their mobile device. And for a category that is usually perceived to be predominantly male, 63% of them are women aged 30 and 50% of them are older than 34yrs and are using the platform as a means to escape their everyday lives. There are also many that play competitively against their male counterparts.

Console owners also provide a sizable opportunity for marketers with 53.8% of households having children that go to school, 39% are 35-49yrs and 25% are 24-34yrs. This audience might have a male skew but paired with the mobile universe it most certainly delivers numbers and diversity.

Most importantly, right now in South Africa mobile gaming is probably also the easiest way to buy media and get your brand in front of eyes. The growth in this category has been exponential compared to general entertainment, the global e-sports industry has been growing at a rate of 30% YOY and the PC gaming market is set to be worth 45.5 billion USD (788.1 billion ZAR) in 2021! The global box office which generated revenue to the tune of 41.7 billion USD (722.2 billion ZAR) in 2008 and the gaming market generated 151.2 billion USD (2.6 trillion ZAR). With fewer eyeballs available for live sports and more time indoors this category is certainly one that cannot be ignored.

As marketers, the ever-changing landscape and demographic we are constantly challenged to not only look for meaningful insights but re-evaluating the norm as the bar continues to be set high and the only constant throughout being change.

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