With a large number of individuals in Ethiopia using social media, local companies take advantage of using the cost-effective way of advertising on social media. Even with the instability of the internet a shift in the platform companies use to advertise is becoming more visible, reports Eyuel Getachew, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER
On the late afternoon of Thursday, March 22, 2018, Ermias Fekadu, a guitarist in a band called Admas Acoustic, was having coffee at TO.MO.CA. Coffee, one of the popular chained coffee shops in the city, at Wolo Sefer branch.
While having his coffee, Ermias was using the internet on his phone as he usually does. He was simultaneously checking his Facebook and Instagram account, the two social media he frequently uses.
He was looking at his phone with an astonished face. He was surprised by the advertising which usually popped up on his phone as they are of interest to him.
As usual, events related to music were the advertisements which pops up on his social media accounts.
“I am always surprised when every advertisement related to music appears on my screen,” Ermias told Fortune.
This is not a surprise for an experienced advising professional, as the commercial on social media spots the targeted audiences.
“Social media is all about data and millions of data transfers take place in a day,” said Melaku Beharu, general manager and chief creative designer at Berry Advertisement, a local graphic design, advertisement and communication company, “advertisement companies spot audiences based on the data they feed while creating their accounts.”
Largely, social media platforms are used to connect people as they are compatible for sharing ideas, observations and experiences. When a user shares something on such mediums, it can reach to the mass depending on the network of the users.
Ethiopians mainly use Facebook, among the popular ones with a share of 49pc, Pinterest comes next with 18pc while Google Plus has less users with a share of 0.86pc, according to StatCounter, an online data aggregator. Twitter and Instagram are also other social media platforms widely used by Ethiopians.
The advancement of internet connection, technology and the penetration of smartphones are paving ways for the usage of such medium in the country. Eventually, it is attracting many companies to advertise their products and services on such platforms apart from the legacy media outlets and advertising options.
One of the companies which finds advertising on social media as a wise decision is TO.MO.CA. Coffee, a family owned coffee-roasting company established in 1953 in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Its name is abbreviated from the Italian Phrase Torrefazione Moderna Café which directly translates as modern coffee roasting.
The company advertises its coffee through the major social media outlets, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.
Beyond the reachability, the company prefers social media to advertise its products considering its cost-effectiveness, according to Wondwesen Meshesha, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at TO.MO.CA.
“You can address whoever you want at any time in any geographic location,” said Wondwesen.
Social media is also preferable as an advertisement alternative as it allows advertisers to engage with customers, building a brand, promoting a product, making research and directly communicate with end-consumer with more conventional communication tools.
Therefore, the social media advertising helps the advertisers adjust their e marketing strategy based on the requirements and desires of its customers acquired from the assessments, according to Melaku.
Casually there are three types of advertisements, above the line (ATL), used to address the mass audience without specification such as television and radio commercials, below the line (BTL), used for specific audiences and through the line (TTL) which addresses both mass and particular audiences.
“Social media advertising falls under the TTL category, as the advertisers can place the products and services based on geographic Location, gender and age group,” said Melaku.
A social media advertisement runs from a one-off promoted Tweet or Facebook post to a full-scale campaign with significant budgets attached.
Each social network offers different opportunities, unlike Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter give premium services at a higher cost than that of the two, but most Ethiopian people use Facebook and Instagram more frequently, so most commercials are shown on these platforms.
On average Facebook charges 0.2 dollars to one dollar for a page like, Instagram charges 0.014 dollars to a dollar, Twitter advertisement costs 2.5 dollars to four dollars per one-page follower and half a dollar to two dollars for an engagement.On the other hand, LinkedIn commercial costs two dollars to eight dollars for one click and one thousand views or clicks of an advertisement.
There are two types of payments for Facebook and Instagram in order to advertise products of a service, as they are run by a single company, they offer automatic and manual payment.
Automatic payment is a platform that companies won’t pay right away rather as their ads run and they will accrue commercial costs that they will be charged for later. In manual payment, advertisers will deposit money to their account first, and then the social media companies deduct the billing amount when they start running the commercials.
The Facebook company automatically invoice. advertisers once a month on their monthly bill date, and if they spend a certain amount known as their billing threshold, they will pay using PayPal or most credit and debit cards.
Online payment is not allowed in Ethiopia; therefore, advertisers such as TO.MO.CA use advertisement agents such Berry Advertisements who have an account abroad or partner with foreign companies, which can settle the payments on behalf of the local company.
Even though advertisers find the platform as the best way to address target or mass audience, that does not mean that local advertisers are fully savouring the system due to the sustainability and quality of the Internet connection.
“I can’t fully put my confidence to advertise my brand online,” Wondessen told Fortune. “The Internet connection is not reliable.”
Getie Andualem (PhD), an assistant professor at Addis Abeba University (AAU), School of Commerce, shares Wondessen’s view.
“In a country where the Internet infrastructure is not well facilitated, these kinds of advertisements need a deep survey to engage in,” Getie said.
Just like the advertisement which runs on the legacy media, such commercials are not regulated by the government locally.
“We are conducting a study to control these commercials,” said Gebregiorgis Abreha, communications director at Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA).
But users such as Ermias are enjoying these advertisements as they receive valuable information from the ads.
“The Ads make me aware of events which I didn’t know are happening,” Ermias told Fortune.
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