The digital revolution has hit Africa. Michael Tchao, GM of Nike Techlab, and Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy UK, will be in South Africa this month to educate businesses on how consumers are using digital media in their everyday lives.
Other internationally and locally acclaimed experts will also be discussing the digital revolution and its impact on South Africa and Africa at the Ogilvy Verge Digital Africa Conference, to be held on 15 April in Johannesburg.
"For the first time on the African continent, our clients, staff and other interested parties will have the chance to glean invaluable insights from these internationally-acclaimed experts who will share their experiences and challenges,” says Jacques Burger, Ogilvy Cape Group MD. Burger has been instrumental in bringing the Ogilvy Verge Digital Conference to South Africa.
Developed, launched and owned internationally by Ogilvy, Verge Conferences have enjoyed resounding success wherever they have been held – from New York to London to Barcelona.
Born in New York in 2004, this event has quickly risen to become the pre-eminent agency-led digital marketing forum for discussion and debate among clients and industry experts.
“Digital Africa is here and we need to dispel the myth that our consumers aren’t engaging in this space and that it is just a channel that has application on continents other than Africa. We can no longer use the excuse that individuals aren’t connecting digitally,” points out Burger.
“There was over 400% growth in South African Internet usage from 2000 to 2005 according to All Africa Global Media. Recent statistics show that approximately 4 million South Africans access the web in a month. We are at the forefront of adopting the latest mobile technologies. Global mobile web technology company, Bango, lists SA as third behind the UK and US in mobile web access and we have 32-million cellphone users."
Some interesting statistics about SA’s internet users are that although they are mainly white users also include the black middle class – Black Diamonds. There is an even spilt between male and female users and half are 25 to 44 years of age. They are also experienced net users.
“Not only are South Africans online but they are also shifting from a passive experience on the internet to an active one and in a big way. Social networking site Facebook is today the most visited website in South Africa, far surpassing Google. SA has the eight biggest Facebook user database worldwide with an excess of 650 000 users,” says Burger.
Subjects to be covered in the conference include Tchao discussing how to build products and services that build consumer connections such as his award-winning Nike+iPod system. Sutherland is going to discuss how engaging with consumers isn't going to get any simpler but it will get more fun.
Ogilvy's digital director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Patou Nuytemans, will talk about all the ways international consumers connect digitally in their everyday lives. Local expert, Ogilvy SA’s strategic planning director Sello Leshope, will review how many South Africans, including Black Diamonds, are in fact online while many brands are offline.
Ogilvy SA’s planning director, Rob Hill, will conduct a panel discussion on the future of mobile marketing. Stanley Edwards, founder & director of Platypus Productions, will give an update on MIPTV, the world's biggest entertainment market and trade event for professionals from the entertainment industry.
MWeb Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Mervyn Goliath, MultiChoice CTO, Gerdus van Eeden, and CEO of 24.com, Russell Hanley, will give an industry update. They will inform delegates about the latest technological developments as well as other industry news.
“The digital space has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and given a voice to consumers. Although this might be a daunting new world we are operating in, it is also very exciting and can provide the opportunity for us to connect with consumers on a much deeper level,” concludes Burger.