Digital marketing is booming. And South Africa is one of the countries in which there is huge growth in both online and mobile advertising. The DMMA (previously the OPA) is pretty much the online community led industry watchdog, and represents an admirable attempt at regulating what is still a new and rapidly changing industry. However, there are some major shortcomings that need to be addressed – and quickly, if we are to keep up with the rest of the global industry trends.
20 January 2012
This letter is written in an attempt to highlight some concerns we have with the quality of the industry regulation in South Africa.
Formerly the OPA, there has always been unhappiness with the fact that Google (as the world’s and South Africa’s) largest publisher has failed to cooperate with the industry in sharing its usage statistics for measurement purposes. Ad Dynamo, launched in SA in 2009, has developed into the 2nd largest publisher in South Africa in terms of online audience reach. We’ve supported local industry, hosted regular Digital Cowboys events to stimulate awareness and community within the industry, and were one of the first to cooperate with your selected measurement partner, Effective Measures.
After activating with Effective Measures last year, we discovered via ad agencies that Ad Dynamo was being specifically excluded from reporting on the DMMA’s instruction. The DMMA never discussed this with us. After raising our frustration with the DMMA, Ad Dynamo was later included in reports to agencies.
Imagine our surprise when we discovered at the end of last year that the DMMA plans to exclude Networks altogether from Effective Measures reporting.
Ad Dynamo is more than an ad network
As highlighted several times, Ad Dynamo represents many SA based and International publishers exclusively – effectively making Ad Dynamo their Sales House. Just like an Habari, Space Station, or Primedia. Ad Dynamo is a transparent marketplace – disclosing every URL that we serve every ad on. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to adopt your (incorrect) categorization of Ad Dynamo in this letter & when referring to Ad Networks, include ourselves in this group.
The Effective Measures statistics published by DMMA monthly are simply not reliable and require serious attention if they are to be used with confidence by advertisers.
The DMMA raised concerns that publishers using an ‘Ad Network’ would be ‘double counted’. Considering that the Head of Measurement for the DMMA works at Space Station, imagine my surprise when extracting a report from Effective Measures as at today – 1. is Space Station. 2. is 24.com – 24.com happens to represent the primary volume of ad impressions sold by Space Station. This is clear double counting and I appreciate that this is what you are trying to eliminate by excluding ad networks in the future.
Unfortunately this is a one dimensional solution to a multi-faceted challenge we face.
- FACT: If the DMMA does not measure the industry as a whole, it is no longer the industry regulator.
- The DMMA is ‘South Africa’ publisher focussed with no real facilitation of international publishers to cooperate with Effective Measures through DMMA channels. All advertisers want is to reach relevant audiences in South Africa. Who owns the media is irrelevant and the harsh reality is that if you look at the top 100 publishers in South Africa (using Alexa), about 75% of them are not based in South Africa.
- Ad Networks are part of the digital advertising ecosystem. You don’t have to like it, but it’s a reality you’ll need to deal with. Ad Networks have to be measured alongside other publishers for the DMMA to be a true reflection of the industry.
- Effective Measures are paid to measure traffic and audiences independently. They should take accountability for measuring audiences accurately, preventing double counting of unique users across multiple publishers/ad networks, and validation that they are only measuring an SA audience.
If the DMMA does not represent, measure, and regulate the digital advertising industry in its entirety, it is dead. I can guarantee you that you’ll be leading an organization with no substance, credibility, or authority within the industry in less than one year from now. As a born and bred South African business I can only say how frustrating it has been to feel as though the organization that we are members of, and have fully supported, is more of an adversary than a body of support and regulation.
Sean Riley, CEO