Media revenue solutions for Africa

Africa’s media landscape has undergone substantial changes. These changes and how the industry and its revenue practices should adapt to them formed the basis of the conversation at WAN-Ifra's 2019 Digital Media Africa conference that was held in Sandton, Johannesburg, in September. To survive and find sustainable media revenue solutions, media organisations on the continent will have to work much harder to understand Africa's young, outward-looking, mobile-first audiences.

Quartz Africa Editor Yinka Adegoke says any viable revenue strategy for the continent must take its increasingly digital native audiences seriously and must be centred around the needs and interests of the region's youth. He says young Africans are increasingly showing interest in in the history of their countries, the events that shaped them and the untold stories.
“Whenever you call anything 'Africa' you’re not really speaking to Africans about their country." He says a more local approach needs to be taken. "If I wanted to appeal to Nigeria I’d launch Quartz Nigeria. This is just my logic.”

Africa and the Rest of the World: Common Concerns

Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Nic Newman is part of conducting the world’s biggest ongoing news survey and compiled the Digital News Report 2019.

Some of the findings:

Digital disruption is forcing publishers to diversify their business models.

What’s more, the majority of people across all markets access news indirectly - 71% gets their news through a “side-door access” and not by visiting the news sites directly.

Misinformation is also changing reader behaviuor

The digital age has led to consumption patterns that are changing rapidly, disrupting business models and declining trust in journalism .- Nic Newman

New solutions mean new leadership willing to experiment

The already-tricky business of commercialising public news content at the South African Broadcasting Corporation is made more complicated by a public mandate that is incredibly resource intense. Phathiswa Magopeni, the SABC’s Group Executive for News and Current Affairs, says in some cases their public mandate hinders them from tapping into revenue options like sponsorships fully.

Kass Naidoo is the founder of GSport4Girls, and says that the fight to have women's involvement in sport taken seriously by mainstream media has been an uphill battle. “For many many years I self-funded it because I had this vision: one day the door was just going to break in and everyone was going to rush in to support women’s sports. It didn’t happen that way,” said Naidoo.

The trouble for GSport4Girls, she says, was their willingness to try everything just to have some money entering the company, and in doing so to try and gain a foothold in the monetising value chain. She says the door was cracked open when Brand South Africa came to the table. Other income came from copyright partnerships, but Naidoo says this was just a drop in the ocean. The real breakthrough came when she attached a Brand South Africa logo at the end of a weekend story. They sent it to Brand South Africa's chief marketing officer. The response was, “I love it!”

“We had to reframe our business to get us to understand that the very thing that was making us money was the thing we were ignoring."

- Kass Naidoo, Founder, GSport4Girls

"As broadcasters we have all these big vans and the facilities that we use to carry broadcasts. We have found a way of monetising the facilities we have."

-Phathiswa Magopeni, Group Executive, News & Current Affairs, SABC

Two things that work for Tiso Blackstar:

1. A touch of the old: The media group resurrected the VryeWeekblad, a trusted 25-year-old independent Afrikaans-language weekly.

2. A touch of the new: For BusinessLive, the organisation decided to amalgamate all their business titles onto one site.

East Africa is ready for new digital realities

East Africa has earned a reputation as Africa’s Silicon Savannah, the heart of the region’s digital economy. Pamella Sittoni is the executive editor at Daily Nation in Kenya and says the only logical response is to also start creating non-news content that can be monetised.

To stay ahead of the game, Sittoni says they are also making sure that their journalists are equipped to face new digital realities, through training, mentorships and exposure to innovations in media landscape.

Another option was punted during a presentation by Leonie von Elverfeldt, Managing Director at Ringier Africa Digital Publishing. Her advice, based on a business model that works, is to put storytelling at the heart of the monetising strategy.

A combination of native advertising, sponsorships, and additional monetisation strategies, has resulted in their PulseLive content getting in excess of 100 million video views per month. According to Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Facebook’s Strategic Media Partnerships Manager for Africa, by 2025 the value of the native advertising industry will reach $402 billion.

How can publishers and media organisations tap into this? According to Elverfeldt, there are some key factors that must not be forgotten:

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