Right now, several major shifts are taking place in South Africa and across the continent, which are dramatically increasing the relevance and influence of digital across the communication landscape. Convergence is perhaps a term we're tired of, but it's taking place faster than many people realise and the opportunity to deliver real value for many businesses is already proven and here.
One of these shifts is the increasingly digitally enabled media landscape - from outdoor billboards to the many screens popping up across the retail environment. This trend leads us to question what isn't digital as apposed to what is. It also means that the 'digital audience' is far wider than the simple calculation of people connected to the Internet (approximate 10.5 million predicted by the end of 2013). In reality, it's already extended to a far wider audience, from someone driving down a highway, to someone shopping in a mall, booking a flight, or using an ATM.
Alongside this is the growth of cheaper, faster, more advanced and more accessible technology from 3G connectivity to advanced smart phone applications that act as boarding passes for plane travel, and simpler mobile websites that book movie tickets. There's also the basic purchasing of electricity via SMS, paying bills online and sending money via ATMs.
The final and most important insight is seen in the consumer, who is embracing these changes, and fast, with the result that a huge portion of our population is already actively using digital technology to add value to their lives and take control of the brand conversation. Many brands have simply miscalculated this and are not unlocking the opportunities of understanding this consumer, technology and media reality.
An example of a client that does understand this potential is BMW. Last year, we produced one of the first digital billboards ever seen at OR Tambo. With the help of digital, we positioned the BMW brand as innovative and the new 6 series convertible as an aesthetic masterpiece, whatever the weather. The billboard showed the car changing between a roof-up and roof-down position, according to live weather patterns across major airport destinations in the country. The creative execution not only showcased the vehicle's aesthetics, but also gave the travelling consumer a useful view of the weather at their intended destination.
Acknowledging that this shifting landscape is taking place against the backdrop of a recession, we also know that clients are looking for increasing value from their partners and increasing value in their business model.
So, alongside marketing solutions, there is another important area where digital can add value. An area that creates an important differentiator between conversations one might have with a traditional advertising agency compared to those one might have with an agency such as ours. This area is the delivery of business solutions. It is a conversation beyond marketing and campaigns; using digital to create additional revenue streams, business efficiencies or alternative communication platforms.
Here are two examples of how we've collaborated with our clients and partners in this valuable space. For The Spur Group, we created an internal system that delivers and monitors branding and point-ofsale material between its franchises. This has increased business efficiencies, saving the company time and money, as well as ensuring in-store brand consistency across its nationwide network of restaurants.
More recently, we've been working with FNB to help create a new physical in-bank environment, DotFNB, which employs touch technology to provide a self-service environment. As a result, DotFNB is providing quicker turn-around times for FNB customers visiting branches and a number of increased account signups, all while aligning with FNB's brand pillar of helping customers through innovation.
There is an increasing number of solutions like these, ones that showcase the growing impact of digital in the marketing and business solutions space. So, as a marketer or owner of an organisation, how does this affect you? In this increasingly digitally enabled world, it's certainly hard to ignore the influence of digital. So ask yourself: who is best positioned to help you explore the important conversations about your brand's internal and external communication strategy?Gloo is a full service agency for the digital consumer, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Awarded Digital Agency of the Year in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.