Why you should make your web team sign a Chapter Six contract

September 4th, 2012

As usual, when faced with Bills that force them to be more accountable to the constituents whose interests they claim to represent, Kenyan parliamentarians either reject or amend them as they did two Thursdays ago when they amended and passed a diluted Leadership and Integrity Bill (aka Chapter 6) that excluded provisions that will have required any aspirant to a public office first seek clearance from agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).

Unfortunately, online marketers don’t have such a luxury after Google recently made copyright and Panda updates that now require you, more than ever, to employ organic ranking tactics that are obese with ‘integrity.’ Your website will lose rankings in the organic stakes if you post copyrighted content or use techniques such as keyword stuffing and unethical link building tactics.

It’s not only Kenyan MPs who diet on integrity. Take piracy, for instance. The Communications Commission of Kenya estimates that currently, there are approximately 3 million fake phones in Kenya. The CCK has threatened to switch them off at the end of September 2012, but trust Kenyans to oppose such a beneficial action: “Many Kenyans are poor and can’t afford genuine phones. Does that mean they shouldn’t communicate with their loved ones?” Microsoft hasn’t said how much software piracy costs the firm in Kenya, but it estimates that 79% of computers contained fake software in 2010. The multinational is now taking drastic intellectual property protection measures such as raiding premises countrywide. I won’t even mention the hundreds of thousands of fake movie DVDs that go for as little as Kshs50 in stalls all over Kenya.

As many Kenyan brands progressively realise and appreciate the benefits of advertising on the internet, I fear our addiction to piracy and reluctance to pay for quality web design and content services will tempt most online business owners to resort to short cuts such as copyright infringement (for example, by using registered trademarks of famous brands, yet they are not authorised resellers) and reworking copyrighted content and then posting it as original in order to rank highly on organic search rankings.

How to avoid Google’s poisonous fangs
The non-negotiable virtue that you, as Web brand owner, should now demand from your web designers and writers, after Google’s latest decrees, whether they are your employees or contracted from an IT marketing agency or agency of advertising, is integrity. Actually, you should dare them to show you a recent certificate of good conduct. Second, you should contact their referees and enquire whether these creatives can be trusted not to engage in ‘copy and paste’ tactics. Third, you should put a clause in their contracts that states that they will only be paid after you are satisfied that the work they have done is original, and should you find they have violated/plagiarised copyrighted content, they will forego their pay (and the sack for in-house offenders).

Marketing in Africa, particularly advertising on the internet, costs more time and more money: from building and hosting your website, to paying designers and writers to design your pages and write content respectively. Why should you risk Google relegating your website to division three, yet you desire to play in the online marketing premiership league because of copyright violations and fake content?
Please contact Pamoja Media for your web design and content needs. We will be glad to solve your challenges.

Will Youtube destroy television revenues in 2016?

August 22nd, 2012

Women's 100m heats, London Olympics 2012

The London 2012 Olympics is a nightmare most Kenyans can’t wait to wake up from thanks to Team Kenya’s record shattering, below-the-belt performance: 2 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals. Compare this drought with the appetising harvest at the Beijing 2008 Olympics: 6 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze.

Besides Kenya’s tearful outing, the London 2012 Olympics bagged a gold medal in social media advertising on the internet for being the first olympics ever to stream both live events and replays on Youtube: www.youtube.com/olympics.  The results vindicate that decision. As of 13/8/12, one day after the games ended, the YouTube channel had enticed over 330,000 subscribers and recorded over 35 million video views. The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) other social media channels’ performances were also spectacular: 3.7 million Facebook likes, over 950,000 Google+ recommendations and over 1.5 million Twitter followers.

TV stations should be scared, very scared

Back in the day TV stations in Africa, particularly state owned (and mostly monopolies), salivated when events such as the Olympics and the football world cup arrived. This is because even though they had to buy rights to screen games, they recouped their costs by increasing their ad space rates. The annual Super Bowl is the poster pig of the latter in action. In 2012, the average cost of a 30-second TV ad cost was $3.5 million (approximately Ksh298 million).

TV stations still – and will continue to – salivate at the commercial opportunities served every four years. But YouTube may force them to go on a forced diet and here’s why.

●     Precise targeting. The London 2012 Olympics YouTube channel offered viewers the option of watching various games from archery to wrestling. This benefit allowed advertisers to precisely target potential customers watching specific matches/niche sports. Contrast that benefit with the current set up in which TV stations focus on guaranteed eyeball attracting sports such as athletics and football. If you sell helmets and you wish to promote them to audiences watching an Olympics canoe slalom race, sorry, TV stations don’t screen live contests of such niche games.

●     Exclusivity. The YouTube channel was a 24-hour, games dedicated channel. This meant that your ad would get guaranteed exposure. Compare that benefit with the current set up where you have to work within TV stations’ programming schedules if you want to market your brand because they also have to interrupt the games to screen other programmes that pay their bills such as news and soap operas.

●     Third. YouTube gives advertisers two payment options depending on their campaign objectives: bidding via Adwords or reserving ad space. Compare this benefit with the current set up where advertisers pay according to TV stations’ rate cards, not according to the former’s campaign goals. And I won’t beleabour the point that over 4 billion videos are viewed daily on YouTube.

●     Fourth, remember the statistics in the beginning of this post showing that over 30 million videos were viewed on the London 2012 Olympics YouTube channel? Those, ladies and gentlemen, are results. Additionally, you can measure other metrics such as average cost of each click or a thousand impressions and the number of viewers who converted after they watched your video ad/s. Try asking the TV station/s where your ad/s showed for a breakdown of how many audiences viewed your ad.

The next sports extravaganza will be in 2014 when Brazil hosts the football World Cup. Hopefully by then, internet bandwidth in Africa will be more widespread and cheaper than they are now.What will African TV stations do if their current heavy spending clients marketing in Africa decide to fatten YouTube’s waistline instead? Is any media planner in an African agency of advertising seeing the graffiti on the ‘Tube?’

For marketers seeking to advertise on Youtube or other online marketing platforms, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Where are Kenyan digital agencies voices?

August 8th, 2012

The Communications Commission of Kenya plans to switch off all counterfeit mobile phone handsets on September 30, 2012. This time the regulator, which estimates that Kenya currently hosts 3 million fake phones, may finally walk the disconnection talk after several aborted attempts in 2011.The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), says piracy costs legitimate Kenyan manufacturers losses of over KSh 30 billion and the government KSh 6 billion in foregone taxes annually.

The commission’s press release contained this interesting part: ‘‘…in consultation with representatives from the four mobile operators, mobile phone manufacturers and relevant government ministries and agencies, we will continue to execute this mandate…’’ So, where are the advertising on the internet agencies hiding as other stakeholders, particularly the mobile phone service providers, lobby to mitigate the damage the mass disconnections will have on their profit and loss sections of their balance sheets? And it’s not only on this subject that Kenyan digital marketing agencies’ voices are missing in action.

From the planned Konza City to the TV signals’ analogue-to-digital migration to the 2013 elections, no agency of advertising has exhibited the guts to publicly articulate the digital opportunities and threats these events will present. No, it doesn’t require them to diminish their bank accounts by sponsoring the Kenyan team to the 2012 London Olympics. Engagement can be cost effective. Why, for example, can’t one organise a quiz night where guests can test their knowledge about marketing in Africa or advertising on the internet? Then this occasion can be recorded and uploaded on the firm’s website and social media channels such YouTube. How about one agency or a collection of them visit Kenyan universities and persuade students to consider a career in digital marketing? One result of this proactive action will be to delete the myth from their minds that their future is in making apps. How about lobbying the government to channel a certain percentage of its communications budget to digital marketing?

Mobile advertising in Kenya, one cog in the digital marketing wheel, grew 12% quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of 2012. If Kenya’s advertising on the internet companies don’t act swiftly to claim this territory, then Indian and Chinese agencies will swoop in and eat our nyam chom and leave local agencies to fight over the madondo leftovers, just like they have feasted on the juiciest parts of Kenya’s ICT sector.

When will regional brands release digital marketing’s blindfold?

August 1st, 2012

Kenya has committed itself to beating the deadline to migrate its TV broadcasting signals from analogue to digital by three years: by the end of 2012, instead of the universally agreed upon deadline of 2015, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya.

According to the CCK, some advantages that Kenyans will enjoy because of switching to digital broadcasting  include: “improved reception quality, a variety of enhanced broadcasting applications, multimedia data and entertainment services…” Even the TV ad urging those Kenyans who own analogue TVs to buy set-top boxes to enable them receive digital signals has earned itself a high recall value according to Spot On.

The CCK deserves praise for realising and rooting for digital’s adoption. But, what about brands, especially FMCG ones in Kenya? (and by extension, in the East African Community?). How come no CEO has announced that advertising on the internet will get a healthy slice of their marketing budgets by say, for lack of a better year, 2030? How come no marketing communications tender bid documents spell out that advertising on the internet will be part of the message platforms and that a potential agency of advertising should possess verifiable success in this area?

No, advertising on the internet doesn’t mean building a website, slapping products on it and a contact email beginning with ‘info@…’  It doesn’t mean opening Facebook and Twitter pages and then converting them to be your brand’s ‘special offers’ matatus. It doesn’t mean opening a YouTube channel and turning it into an archive for your TV ads.

Marketing in Africa nowadays, especially advertising in the internet, is about engagement and none is executing it better regionally and currently than Nokia, with its ‘Don’t break the beat’ campaign.  Nokia would have decided to exclusively use traditional media to publicise this rapping contest, but it probably read CCK’s early July press release that said that Kenya now has 29.2 million mobile phone subscriptions. And probably its agency of advertising advised Nokia to engage with its target audience via mobile phone by requiring aspiring rappers to register on the campaign’s mobisite.

If Nokia, despite the challenges it’s been facing for the past few years now, can roll out a digital campaign in East Africa, what’s stopping regional brands with fewer challenges and more data about their consumers from doing the same? If the CCK, a parastatal, is leading the march to encourage Kenyans to hug digital TV signals by the end of 2012 instead of 2015, why aren’t regional brands reassessing their current analogue message platforms and measuring their effectiveness and returns on investment against advertising on the internet?

Why ‘Direxer’ has made life tougher for Internet marketing in Kenya

January 27th, 2012

image courtesy:www.africaknows.com

Over the last decade, the Kenyan government has moved some of its services and procedures online, with the Simba cargo declaration system a memorable initiative. Taking previously-manual tasks online brings many benefits to both the government and citizens: speed, measurement, retrievability, convenience, reduced paper waste, etc.

Therefore, it’s frightening to know that our government’s Web security fence is so porous that Direxer, an Indonesian student, recently hacked over 100 government websites! What’s worse is that not only did he boast about his ‘achievement,’ but the Kenya Police website had been hacked in early January, and no urgent steps were taken to stop a recurrence.

The consequences

To most of us with regular Internet access, we shrugged off these invasions with, ‘As long as it wasn’t my personal data, it’s cool” reaction (the Immigration Ministry’s site was one of the hacked sites that might contain your personal details).

Unfortunately, Kenyans, local e-commerce sites and Internet marketers should be afraid, very afraid. First, we have now earned a reputation as a top hackers’ dream destination. This means they will outdo each other for bragging rights in attempts to outdo Direxer. Two potential targets are Kenyans’ Facebook and Twitter accounts because statistics show that there are over 1 million Kenyans on the former and we occupy second position in Africa in using the latter.

Second, potential e-commerce customers will hesitate to transact online because of their legit fears that local sites aren’t secure enough to protect not only their credit card information, but other data such as email and physical addresses and cell phone numbers. This fear will lay to waste the whole purpose of promoting e-commerce in Kenya and drive customers to foreign-owned e-commerce sites where they will feel their data is secure, even though the October 2011 hacking of Sony’s Playstation site proves no site is impregnable.

Third, if local e-commerce sites’ owners have to spend more of their time worrying about security (and its costs) instead of optimising their sites to attract, motivate and keep customers, then Internet marketing in Kenya will mutate into Web security products instead of beneficial actions such as Internet marketing.

Fourth, if Direxer stole sensitive data such as names and cell phone numbers, there is a huge possibility that he will auction them to identity theft merchants who will then use this information to increase the cases of mobile phone fraud schemes such as those that inform you that you have ‘won’ money in a contest, for example.

Direxer’s antics have just made Internet marketing in Kenya a 100 times tougher proposition to sell.

From conception to delivery

January 13th, 2012

Tandaza Technologies, the mobile applications development subsidiary of Pamoja Media, launched Payuka today at the Android marketplace.

I spoke to Comark Maloba, chief technical officer at Pamoja Media and also the brains behind Payuka, about well, the app! Excerpts.

  • When did you come up with the Payuka idea?

It was around September 2011. Two things contributed to the idea formation. First, a group of Swedish newspaper journalists came to the office to research about how African newspapers publish their content online. East Africa was their last stop after West and South Africa. Second, I observed that people pay for sports content instead of for example, politics, by SMS subscriptions and going online.

  • What made you come up with the idea?

I’m a football fan and I’ve always wanted to interact with the games that are being shown on TV or placed on sites such as BBC and Goal , not just listen to the commentators. Look at it like being in the stadium itself. With those two combined I thought:

“Why not focus on an app that not only enables you to view what the scores are, but also lets you get the mood from similar people.’’

  • Where do you see Payuka being mostly used?

When I first thought about the app, I thought about my immediate sphere of influence: my Facebook friends and the people I follow on Twitter. The strategy then changed to how Payuka could work both in Africa and the rest of the world.

  • How did you test drive Payuka?

We have had 4 test drive sessions this month.  We also test drove Payuka daily before we launched it at the Android marketplace on 13th January.

  • How long did it take you from conception to completion?

The Tandaza development team worked on the app from September 2011 to actualisation in January this year.

  • What challenges did you and Tandaza experience during the app development?

The first challenge was naming. We initially named it ‘kick-off,’ a name already taken. So, we had to rename the app and took into consideration that the name had to be memorable and easy to roll off the tongue. Second, because the developers lacked prior mobile apps development experience, they had to undergo best practice and standardisation lessons so that users can encounter a good user experience.

  • What metrics will you use to measurePayuka’s success?

I usually use Twitter to tweet about football. Most of the 900 people I follow on Twitter are Kenyans and I like to know what they are talking about regarding football. If at least 300-400 of them download Payuka and use it weekly during live games, I will know that they are responding well to the app.

  • What other app idea are you working on, or is it confidential?

There are actually 2 ideas at the moment:  the first concerns social gaming and the second, data collection. Watch this space.

  • When do you plan to avail Payuka to other mobile phone operating systems such as Nokia’s Symbian?

Coming soon.

Is your smartphone ready for kick-off?

January 6th, 2012

Image courtesy of Tandaza Technologies

Hey Kenyan Premier League, English Premiership, Spanish La Liga, etc, junkies! Check out Payuka, a cool, free, smartphone football app developed by Tandaza, the mobile-phone apps subsidiary of Pamoja Media.

Your SME deserves new year resolutions

January 4th, 2012

We hope you had a blessed festive season.

As usual, when it reaches Jan.1, many people make resolutions such as to quit smoking, eat healthier, save more money, etc.  Whatever your personal 2012 resolutions, don’t forget to also do the same for your business, particularly if it’s a Kenyan-based SME.

One challenge Kenyan SMEs face is how to cost-effectively increase their visibility. The available platforms such as TV, billboards, radio, competitions, etc require big budgets that SMEs obviously lack. That leaves SMEs with the option of going online. Not only is the medium cheaper, any internet marketing efforts you embark on are measurable. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work hard at it. Below are some internet marketing tips that you should apply to your SME this year.

Get a website

A website is no longer a bragging asset only corporates can list on their marketing materials. Thanks to initiatives like Google’s KBO, SMEs can no longer claim unaffordability as THE reason why they don’t practise E-commerce in Kenya.  In last year’s Business Daily top 100 SMEs, 67 of them had built websites.  In the next edition of the rankings, all participating small and medium enterprises in Kenya should have websites. Don’t forget to also create a mobile site (mobisite) to target potential customers because according to a November 2011 report by the Kenya ICT Board, there were over 24 million mobile phone subscribers compared with just approximately 4.5 million internet subscribers.

In addition, your business should have a Facebook page. According to internetworldstats.com, slightly over 1.1 million Kenyans were Facebook users by June 30, 2011.

Show and tell

Take advantage of free, local classifieds sites to complement your publicity tactics. Capitalfm, Dealfish and Google Trader are popular sites where you can list your SME. If you run a fast food business, go further by signing up to a location-based application and collaborate with it to run offers, encourage loyalty, etc. Nikohapa is an example of a Kenyan, location-based application.

Words, pictures and videos

Now that you have a website and Facebook page, what’s next? Content. Create content that’s related to your business and we don’t mean sales copy. Write regular opinions regarding your industry, make how-to videos and post them on Youtube, take photographs of seminars that you attend and upload them on your Facebook page. Content creation is a great, indirect marketing tactic to complement your product/service descriptions.

To increase your SME website’s chances of appearing highly in search engines, include keywords that relate to your business/industry in the content. This is called search engine optimisation.

Finger on the pulse

The internet is too wide a space for you to constantly monitor your reputation. In addition to the obvious excellent customer service that you should engage in, there are tools to help you spot potential mines. Google alerts and trackur are some of them.

When it comes to measuring your SEO and Adwords efforts, Google Analytics is the most widely used tool, though Facebook also provides you with metrics regarding how people are engaging with your page via Facebook Insights. If you do a paid campaign, then Facebook Ads Reports is the go-to application to measure its performance.

There you have it, a firm foundation upon which to build a strong, internet marketing palace for your SME.

Why online transactions in Kenya are still crawling

December 21st, 2011

image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com

Evidence that Kenya is a cash obese economy is overwhelming: notices in cafés instruct you to pay first before you place your order and also remind you that they don’t provide credit, matatu conductors place currency notes between their index and middle fingers, banks resemble war zones when armed policemen escort cash carrying vans to deposit before July 1991 Kenyan importers needed Central Bank of Kenya’s approval before they bought foreign exchange.

As Joshua Wanyama, Pamoja Media CEO, observed in this recent interview, e-commerce in Kenya is growing, but a lack a nationally acceptable and valid electronic payment system and a ubiquitous culture that shuns buying goods and services online are in the list of obstacles preventing e-commerce in Kenya from fully taking off.

Card issuers and mobile phone companies collaborate

However, firms are rolling out different solutions to reduce the gulf between payments and e-commerce. In February this year, Safaricom launched the M-Pesa prepay safari card which allows its users to transact business online. In September Airtel and MasterCard launched payonline, a platform that enables the former’s subscribers to buy and pay for goods and services online using the latter’s cards. And down South, MTN launched payd, a system that facilitates South Africans to pay for goods and services online using a pin-based debit card.

These efforts are commendable, but insufficient if they are not complemented by measures to persuade Kenyan online shoppers to consider shopping and paying for goods using these cards. This festive season is a great opportunity about to vanish for Kenyan businesses to do that. They are offering an abundance of Christmas offers and even advertising them on their websites, but there’s neither information nor incentives to encourage customers to shop and pay for these offers online.

Champagne launches, flat follow ups

On December 16 2011, Safaricom concluded a nationwide tour to promote its products/services. These events attracted crowds similar to those who attend political rallies. They were not only entertained by comedians and musicians, they also won freebies such as tee shirts, hats and umbrellas. Why can’t Safaricom conduct a similar initiative to persuade (and reward) its subscribers with internet connection in their homes to use its safari card? Why hasn’t Airtel Kenya added information regarding its payonline

solution to its website? Both mobile phone service providers account for approximately 80% of Kenya’s 25 million subscribers. Imagine the effect their efforts to convince a substantial number of these subscribers to sign up to their respective offerings would have on online transactions in Kenya. One result is that the number of cards (Visa) will increase from the current 2 million. In addition, none of these companies have displayed the energy to update the public on the successes and challenges of these initiatives, compared with the enthusiasm they exhibit when they regularly update us on the progress of their other promotions, particularly those that have to do with winning cash.

Online transactions in Kenya will run on steroids once card issuers, mobile phone service providers and e-commerce sites actively woo, retain and reward potential card holders.

E-Commerce in Kenya State of Mind:(Part 2)

December 15th, 2011

Joshua Wanyama, CEO, Pamoja Media

Today’s post finalises Joshua Wanyama’s views on the state of e-commerce in Kenya. It’s a continuation of where Part 1 ended. Read on.

  • Google recently launched the Kenyan Business Online initiative to encourage Kenyan companies to build their own free websites.  Does this mean that without such initiatives from multi-nationals like Google, e-commerce in Kenya won’t take off?

It doesn’t mean that. People always gravitate towards ways that make doing business easy. E-commerce sites already exist in Kenya and Google has nothing to do with that. KBO’s primary aim is to show Kenyan businesses the value of going online and competing against each other, and competition creates opportunities for Google to make money through advertising on their Adwords platform.  Digital processes and systems are growing, but what’s drastically needed for E-commerce to take off in Kenya is behaviour change by shoppers from over-the-counter to online shopping.

There exist industry standards and software to protect the private sector against cyber attacks. The problem is that these systems are marketed and sold outside Africa. We can’t have E-commerce sites without secure servers, otherwise customers won’t pitch.

  • Even though the Kenyan e-commerce market is too small for promotions such as Cyber Monday, what promotions can the existing Kenyan e-commerce businesses do to generate a buzz about ecommerce?

Cyber Monday is an obvious attempt by American online stores to sell more after Thanksgiving Day leading to the holiday season because this period contributes to 75% of their annual sales. But we can’t replicate Cyber Monday in Kenya, we need to create unique shopping days similar to the market days in villages. When more Kenyans will shop online, then we will spot opportunities to create our own Cyber Monday. For now, e-commerce sites should ask themselves: “How can we tap the psyche of the Kenyan consumer offline to turn it into an online experience?”

  • How can Kenyan businesses take advantage of East African cooperation to extend their e-commerce tentacles?

Both e-commerce as a service and the individual East African markets are small, meaning the huge opportunities either lie regionally or continentally. However, each government has specific rules regarding online transactions and payments and combined with the few Africans buying online, make things tricky. Despite these obstacles, digital purchases have the best chance of scaling quickly if you already run regional operations and logistics. For example, Nakumatt, which currently has 35 outlets across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, can sell Tanzanian rice online from their Moshi store to a Kenyan consumer who can collect it the next day.
Kenyan businesses will benefit from regional integration when legislation changes to suit e-commerce needs and consumers become more online savvy.

  • When you look at Kenya’s economy, what sectors should already be practising e-commerce?

Music, events, news and mobile apps.

  • Any other thoughts about e-commerce in Kenya?

First, Kenyan and African entrepreneurs need to localise e-commerce. They can’t use Western models because they are unsuitable for our unique environment.  Kenya has proved that mobile phone-based transactions work. So, how can we change the psyche of the Kenyan/African consumer from paying over the counter for goods and services to paying for them using their mobile phones? How can we enlighten them about the benefits of e-commerce?
Ponder this. Recently, a friend of mine opted to go to the Junction shopping mall, withdrew money from her M-Pesa account and paid for tickets to an event over the counter even after I had recommended she avoids the hassle by paying for them and later printing them using the same M-Pesa account on ticketsasa.

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