Scangroup launches digital advertising division

Scan Group CEO Bharat Thakrar said the company is responding to the rapid growth of online access. Photo/FILE
Scan Group CEO Bharat Thakrar said the company is responding to the rapid growth of online access. Photo/FILE 

Listed media firm Scangroup has established its presence in the digital marketing arena, aiming to tap the rapidly expanding online market.

Scangroup, Kenya’s largest media services firm, has created three new divisions that will be its launch pads into digital marketing, a segment that is expected to attract more than Sh200 million in revenue this year.

“We have been monitoring the tremendous and rapid growth in online access in Kenya and have responded by setting up entities that operate across the spectrum of the digital space,” said Bharat Thakrar, the Scangroup CEO.

Through its Squad Digital arm, Scangroup will target businesses that want to add a commercial aspect to their online campaigns, while the Firefly division will allow the media services firm to offer clients insight on consumer behaviour trends through its research arm.

A deal signed last week gives Scangroup the ability to offer marketing strategies and tactics to its clients through the newly established Possible Worldwide unit.

Possible is a joint initiative of Scangroup and its international affiliate, WPP. It enables the Kenyan firm to use WPP’s worldwide network to source solutions for local clients.

“Digital media has emerged as a powerful force that is beginning to reshape the way consumers interact with brands as well as the role of traditional channels,” said Mr Thakrar.

Scangroup hopes to leverage on the three new agencies to serve companies that are willing to experiment with their digital media strategies and embrace the rules of the platform when interacting with consumers online.

Internet penetration in Kenya stands at 10 per cent, according to the latest market surveys.

This amounts to about four million users and is a higher penetration rate than South Africa, Nigeria and India and an increase from one million users two years ago.

Apart from Scangroup, the digital media marketing space has attracted the attention of South Africa-based companies such as Habari Media and Mocality.

Most of these companies are keen to crack the mobile advertising space where Internet uptake has been highest on the continent.

Over half of Kenya’s Internet users access the web using their mobile phones.

The “always on” and portable nature of mobile Internet access provides an even more compelling rationale for brands and advertisers to get involved online.

High penetration of cell phones in Kenya, currently estimated at 63 per cent of those aged over 15 compared to just 3.6 per cent of computer penetration, endears the gadget to advertisers seeking new ways to talk to their consumers.

The declining prices of mobile handsets and devices coupled with lower data charges will combine to mean that Internet usage will continue to grow rapidly in Kenya.

“As clients see numbers like this, their desire to understand how best to engage with consumers online has grown,” said Mr Thakrar. “The concrete steps they have taken so far are however limited.”

This is because of the top 15 Kenyan companies on Facebook ranked by number of fans, for instance, only three have more than 100,000 fans, while the 15th most popular features just 302 fans.

Skilled digital

Mr Thakrar said his partnership with Possible enables him to circumvent a possible shortfall in local talent who are not adequately trained to deal with new media campaigns.

As part of WPPs Possible Worldwide initiative, Scangroup can tap into this global talent pool as needed to bring on board staff who can manage the needs of local and pan-African clients.

“The demand for skilled digital practitioners across the world is immense and we therefore have to compete in the global marketplace with other agency groups and “pure play” digital agencies for the available talent,” said Mr Thakrar.

Possible develops solutions across the full range of digital media including mobile, Web, television, digital-out-of-home, tablet, touch, online advertising and social media, bringing technology and creativity together in new ways that drive consumer interest and business growth.