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Nudging the media odds ever in your favour

SPARK Media recently hosted Dr Carl Driesener, Senior Marketing Scientist from the Ehrenburg Bass Institute (EBI) to share his learnings on how marketers and brands can better target their customers for more effective bottom line results.  

“We’ve learned so much about effective marketing over the years thanks to our association with EBI,” says SPARK Media’s CEO Gill Randall, “and there’s never been a more important time us to implement these guidelines for businesses to succeed in the current economy.”

Dr Carl said that targeting is like adding salt to your cooking, a little makes it delicious but too much makes it inedible.

His top five tips are:

  1. Be inclusive, rather than exclusive, – the premise behind tight targeting and segmentation is that different brands appeal to different customers.  In reality, we know that the world doesn’t work this way!

There is very little difference between competing brands and all category buyers are your potential customers.

  • So, target all category buyers, not some idealised “brand” profile.
  1. Make your target market description evidence-based.

Don’t work on assumptions about what the customer-base looks like

  1. Avoid targeting only your heavy buyers.

Heavy buyers do deliver volume, but growth comes from the many light and non-buyers, because there are so many of them.

(Counter-intuitively, heavy users need less ad exposure, as the brands are already part of their regular behaviour and therefore more salient.)

  1. Buy media on reach (big numbers) rather than indices –
  • Seductive over-indexing often hides the fact that the channel still delivers small numbers.
  • Always check raw numbers – large audiences are still the primary focus.
  1. Don’t sacrifice reach or continuity of exposure for engagement.
  • High impact campaigns are often expensive and only reach limited numbers!

What are the implications for media?

Go for bigger media – they reach more of everyone.  Evaluate your choices on effectiveness first – i.e. How many sales/feet through the door and efficiency second – cost per conversion.

“As a South African sponsor of EBI, we remain committed to bringing these evidence-based learnings to our marketing industry,” concludes Randall.


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location-based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.

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SPARK Media invites Lumen to conduct Eye Tracking research

International attention technology company Lumen uses eye tracking software to understand the reality of visual attention on memory and ability to recall messages.

 SPARK Media, having just released its ROOTS research which shows that many people recall reading their local papers regularly for news and shopping information, will now add another crucial layer to that knowledge for marketers using latest technology. The outcome will assist marketers in evaluating local papers against an attention metric.

“Just because you can see something doesn’t mean that you will see it. Lumen’s eye tracking technology helps us understand what people look at – and what they ignore,” explains Mike Follett, Managing Director at Lumen.

“The Lumen team will be here in November to conduct an attention study on SPARK Media’s local papers as well as our Caxton Magazine titles, to understand the reality of what gets noticed and given attention in our print media,” explains SPARK Media’s Marketing Services and Research Director, Debbie McIntyre.

According to Follett: “Unless people look at an ad, it will never work. So attention is important. Advertisers can boost the impact of their ads by developing engaging and compelling ads but they can also make sure that their ads are placed in places that are most likely to be seen. We find that ads placed in relevant media environments that compliment the ad message because they sink with the task orientation of the reader, get more attention and recall.”

“SPARK Media want to help advertisers improve their understanding of different ad units to better apply metrics to their ROI strategies and to improve design to increase attention levels. Our intended outcome with this research is to get more insight on how to evaluate this,” adds Debbie.

The research and findings will be presented to the industry early next year.


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location-based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.

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SPARK Media hosts Michael Charton in #RWC forgotten Bokke vs New Zealand tales

#RWC2019 fever is in the air, and if you’re a rugby lover or history enthusiast, this one is for you. Join SPARK Media and master storyteller, Michael Charton, for a captivating tale about the forgotten Springbok tour of New Zealand more than 80 years ago.

Taking place at the Bryanston Country Club mid-October, Michael’s story breathes new life into the famous rivalry between rugby’s two giants: the All Blacks and the Springboks. It celebrates rugby’s amateur era and the associated gentlemanly conduct.

“For fans across the globe, the Springbok – All Blacks rivalry is long standing, marked by high anticipation each time these two giants clash. The 1937 tour in particular is a fascinating story to hear and told so expertly by Michael Charton, the founder of Inherit South Africa, a platform for sharing untold South African stories,” says SPARK Media CEO Gill Randall.

“Michael is also the author of My Father’s Coat, a bite-sized narrative of South Africa. We’re looking forward to hosting him, our clients and agency partners to what promises to be a very insightful evening.”

If you’d like to reserve a space please contact Shaundre at


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location-based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’

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SPARK Media presents Smart Targeting with the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

SPARK Media is proud to host Dr Carl Driesener this October, a senior marketing scientist from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute (EBI) based in Australia. His presentation, themed Smart Targeting, will focus on the highly topical and hotly debated subject of effective targeting.

 Dr Driesener notes, “In an era of accountability and media fragmentation, some targeting makes sense. But, like adding salt to a dish, too much targeting can undo the good.”

Each year, SPARK Media hosts a speaker from the world’s leading marketing science centre based at the University of South Australia Business School. These sessions provide media and advertising professionals access to cutting-edge insights into marketing and consumer trends across the world.

“Our annual seminar with EBI always delivers crucial insights into current marketing trends and, more importantly, changes in the way in which brands and consumers are adapting to the ever-changing marketing landscape, both locally and globally. We’re excited to share these latest findings with our guests,” says Gill Randall, CEO of SPARK Media.

EBI has worked with many of the world’s leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble etc. to develop an evidence-based marketing culture.

Availability for this highly anticipated event is limited, so reserve your seat to avoid disappointment by emailing


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location-based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.

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SPARK Media executes another successful Sports Day

To thank and spoil their clients, SPARK Media has successfully held another annual Sports Day, themed ‘Spring Break’, complete with a variety of games to test the mental and physical ‘availability’ of their guests.

Attendees were spoiled from the moment of their arrival at the Bryanston Country Club right until the generous prize giving which saw each and every guest receiving a memento to take home. SPARK Media’s CEO, Gill Randall says: “We are so grateful to every person that made an effort to attend our annual Sports Day. It’s a small token of thanks from us to our clients and agency partners that was once again so incredibly well received.

Our aim is to continue to build meaningful connections with clients far from the pressures of the office in a completely relaxed environment.”

For golf lovers, prime fairways served as the ideal way to converse with friends, de-stress and, of course, time those drives to perfection. For those less inclined to traverse the greens, the Fun-a-Thon offered plenty amusement and more than just a few challenging tasks.

The mental workout of the afternoon quiz also formed an integral part of the day, and provided guests and SPARK Media staff with the chance to test their general knowledge and show off their intellectual prowess.

SPARK Media’s Director of Sales, Olav Westphal added: “We put a significant amount of effort into the Sports Day, but its success depends entirely on our clients. The day couldn’t work without their enthusiasm and positive mind sets. SPARK Media has a vibrant culture, and much of it is as a result of what clients bring to the table. They play a crucial role in the development of SPARK’s can-do personality, and for this we thank them.”

Although the 2019 edition of the SPARK Media Sports Day has come and gone, next year promises to be an event worth pencilling into calendars as early as possible.

“We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the raffle,” says Gill. “We managed to raise R5 600 for our longstanding charity, Hayani which runs both a much-needed crèche in Alexandra and an orphanage in Orange Grove.

We look forward to seeing you all in 2020.”

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#ROOTS2019 sheds light on buyer behaviour

Why do we need to understand buyer behaviour? As marketers, advertisers and brand growth specialists, we are all in the business of building brands, looking for opportunities to talk to potential buyers or product users by geographic area and potentially influence behaviour. This works best when we understand what makes consumers tick.

CEO of SPARK Media, Gill Randall says: “The latest ROOTS 2019 data that has just been released enables users to analyse and interpret the evidence-based discoveries of modern based marketing. These detail how we can communicate meaningfully to potential consumers that could be in the market for what we are selling, influence their decisions and ultimately their actions.”


According to Professor Andrew Ehrenberg from EBI (Ehrenburg Bass Institute), “YOUR consumers are just someone else’s consumers who occasionally buy from you.”

What the ROOTS data reveals is the detail for each local geographic area of the sharing of shoppers.

Take for example Diepkloof, Pick n Pay is by far the biggest food and grocery retailer in the area at 87%. However, 31% of these Pick n Pay shoppers also shopped at Shoprite, 31% at Cambridge Food and 18% at Checkers in the past month.

Area by area and category by category this non-loyalty discovery holds true. Media platforms are not immune to sharing audiences either. The local newspaper, Boksburg Advertiser, is read by 87% of Purchase Decision Makers (PDMs). Of these PDMs, 7% also read Sunday Times, 5% read Daily Sun and Move magazine. 26% of these same readers go to the movies, 31% access the internet (several times a day) and 26% read news on an online news site.


Professor Ehrenberg says evidence shows that: “Consumer behaviour is random and unpredictable – adjusted for our mood or need at a particular moment in time.”

ROOTS reveals that high incidences of markets are thin, therefore look for high aggregate propensities, clusters or catchment areas. Consumers that are interested in food, cooking or baking can be found in Kimberley, Uitenhage and Jo’burg North whereas consumers in Constantia, Knysna and Milnerton show high instances of buying wine (once a week or more often) while those in Nelspruit are interested in Home and Décor.

Of the 51 000 shoppers in Midrand, 77% bought small electrical appliances in the past 12 months, 3 250 in the past month and 813 in the past week. These hard to find shoppers also have so much choice! Competing for their customers in this category is Game, HiFi Corp, Checkers Hyper, Clicks and Pick n Pay Hyper etc.

 Decision Making

Daniel Kahneman author of Thinking Fast and Slow, states: “We think much less than we think we think.”

ROOTS reveals just how competitive markets are across categories at a local level and that customers are spoilt for choice. ROOTS measures mindshare or mental availability of brands in the category.

While spoilt for choice, changing consumer needs over the years results in different shopping patterns emerging area by area.  We know the need for convenience has changed behaviour and area by area we see market share changes where possibly newer entrants like retailers at garage forecourts have had an effect.

The real battle for market share is at local level. The Pick n Pay Hyper in Krugersdorp has over the last two ROOTS surveys increased from 3% to 20%, in the large electrical appliance category.

Local Imperative

The principle is to understand your shoppers and users at a local level. Geo-segmentation is the priority segmentation tool. ROOTS reveals and identifies high incidence areas for users and stores, based on people with likelihood to purchase a specific category.

The average time that consumers are willing to travel differs by category and area. On average, shoppers are only willing to travel 13 minutes for food and groceries. However, the real value for helping make strategic decisions is again realised at the local area. In Dobsonville, consumers travel for 20 minutes while in Amanzimtoti it is only 7 minutes.

“While buyer behaviour will adapt to changing market realities, our brains don’t physically change and are hard wired to respond in certain ways. ROOTS helps markets unpack many of these buyer behaviour traits and assists us to understand what makes consumers tick,” concludes Randall.

“To grow a brand, although difficult (and sometimes expensive), attract the attention of light and non-users. Be mentally available, making it easy to be thought of by as many people as possible and be physically available, through distribution, location, accessibility and ease of purchase.”

For more detail on these evidence-based discoveries and what ROOTS reveals visit our website or follow us on social media @sparkmediasa.


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.

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SA publishers collaborate to launch a new and inventory-rich Video Private Marketplace

In an exciting first for South African digital advertising, industry leading publishers Caxton, Media24, TisoBlackStar, The Daily Maverick and TheSouthAfrican have collectively established a partnership with Australian video company, Oovvuu, and have now launched a new and inventory-rich Video Private Marketplace.

Digital consumers continue to show a strong preference for accessible and engaging online video content, affording brands the opportunity to reach target markets through compelling video advertising.

Oovvuu sources quality video content from premier international publishers, distributing it to South African consumers through trusted local publishers.

Displayed within the body of news and entertainment articles, Oovvuu collated videos will be thematically linked to each article’s respective subject matter.

Although suggested videos will be sourced via machine learning and AI, editorial approval is still required to guarantee quality to both advertisers and readers at all times.

To streamline booking processes for Oovvuu clients, a convenient and centralised platform called Connect has been built. Through Connect, agencies can purchase from all publishers at once.

This multi-publisher partnership with Oovvuu means that agencies can now offer clients substantial exposure on credible, brand safe websites outside of the Facebook and YouTube environments.

Unlike Facebook and YouTube, pre-roll ads on Oovvuu content cannot be skipped, leading to longer engagement times and an increased opportunity for meaningful brand engagement.

Video ads on Oovvuu have already displayed high viewability, completion and click-through rates.

Moreover, given the recent avalanche of disinformation campaigns on Facebook and YouTube, advertisers are exposed to a significant risk of finding digital assets on exceptionally brand un-safe content.

Oovvuu solves this problem.

Oovvuu CEO, Ricky Sutton, notes: “When we originally met with South African media agencies, there were three primary requirements – brand safety, engagement and cost effective scalability.

“Agencies want the ability to buy volume with one click, therefore Connect was created, allowing agencies to buy from all publishers at one time.

“We’ve simply given agencies what they’ve been asking for.”

For enquiries and assistance in buying premium video inventory, get in touch with Chris Borain from OneRepublic on

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#ROOTS2019 mapping the more economically active South Africa

Set in motion with in-field interviews in March 2018, South Africa’s largest quantitative community survey #ROOTS2019 is ready to be launched in June across South Africa. The all new ROOTS 2019 will unveil new and insightful stories coming out of local geographic areas.

“The ROOTS survey has been conducted every three years since 2001 and a large portion of the question set has remained the same, with necessary additions to remain relevant,” says Debbie McIntyre, Marketing and Research Director at SPARK Media. “This year, the survey boasts some different areas and communities, and more insights that ever before”.

A partnership with Ads24 means the inclusion of 16 new areas to gain insights from. This enables the building bricks of the survey to be a total of 112 surveyed areas.

ROOTS’ quantitative research explores shopping behaviours and decisions, and can be used to create an in-depth analysis on areas where the economically active population lives. Want to know how many homes are owned or rented in your suburb? Overall, 37% of homes are owned and bond-free. Most bond-free homes can be found in Umzinto (64%), as well as Sedibeng and George (58%). 24% of homes are rented, with the highest percentage found in Burgersfort, Berea (Durban) and Kensington (Johannesburg).

36% of households have dogs, however only 5% of pet owners have pet insurance even though 57% took their pet to the vet in the past year.

The research methodology model provides a national snapshot that is designed to enable detailed analysis and decision making at a local level. 77% of Randburg residents purchase take-aways at least once a month. Seapoint has the highest percentage of people that travel (41%). Social media usage ranks highest in Bellville.

“Every local area is different in terms of structure and shopping behaviours, and the data continuously proves this, showing us changes and new trends”, says Debbie. “Shoppers are not willing to travel too far to buy food and groceries; 61% of consumers will only travel a maximum of 15 minutes to shop.”

“The best read and used papers across the ROOTS sample areas are still, by far, local papers, with 65% of shoppers having read them. The gap has widened significantly in this category, with only 17% of shoppers having read weekly or weekend newspapers”, Debbie adds.

“For these and other exceptional insights about people and their preferences, we encourage the industry to join us at the launch of ROOTS 2019,” concludes Debbie. “The countdown is on. We can’t wait!”

ROOTS launches in Durban on the 4th of June, Johannesburg on the 6th of June and Cape Town on the 11th of June. For more information or to book your seat, visit or contact

For more on SPARK Media, visit their website and follow them on social media @sparkmediasa.


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Hive Digital Media announces management structure

Newly formed specialist digital media agency, Hive Digital Media, formerly the digital sales unit of SPARK Media, has announced the appointments of its Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) Parmeshan Moodliar, Chief Operations Officer (COO) Kristin Louw and Group Programmatic and Data Manager Ashleigh Footit.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce changes in the management structure of Hive Digital Media effective 1 July of this year,” said Marc du Plessis, Group Executive: Digital Investments at Caxton. “In his role as Chief Revenue Officer, Parmeshan will oversee the sales, PR, Brand Management, Trade Marketing and

Finance units, as well as work with Ashleigh on the Programmatic and Data divisions, while Kristin as Chief Operations Officer will manage the Channel, Marketing Services, Traffic, Adops, Story Studio (content production) and HR functions of the business.

Both Parmeshan and Kristin have been with the group for several years now, are well respected by their teams and are backed by an established client base,” says Marc.

According to du Plessis, the business has taken the strategic decision to split their digital sales unit from SPARK Media in order for each business unit to concentrate on the platforms they know and can best represent, giving their clients the best service & value possible.

 The executive committee of Hive Digital Media will begin working immediately in planning for the new fiscal and embedding the new structure, while focusing their energy and B2B messaging on  their offerings such as LNN (Local News Network), All4Women, Health Spas, Guzzle and Ignition (programmatic offering).  SPARK Media will once again focus solely on being the strategic sales arm for Caxton Local Newspapers.

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Big, bigger, biggest #ROOTS2019

Constructed, layer by layer, brick by brick, the all new ROOTS 2019 will be unveiled to the marketing, advertising and media industries this coming June. In the meantime, some influential media personalities have provided their thoughts and expectations of #ROOTS2019.

“ROOTS is one of South Africa’s largest and longest running consumer behaviour surveys and in June we’re excited to be bringing the latest research to life,” says Debbie McIntyre, Marketing Services and Research Director SPARK Media. “We enjoy receiving feedback and hearing what the people that make use of the data have to say and what their expectations of ROOTS 2019 are.”

Managing Director at Vizeum (Johannesburg), Byron John, comments: “We’ve used the previous ROOTS survey extensively across the Dentsu Aegis Network for a lot of strategic input and insights and I am excited to see how the key data touchpoints have changed, grown or developed over the last few years.

The ROOTS data has given us great insight into the suburban make-up of our diverse South African consumer(s). Putting any media strategy together should start at the what, where and how consumers access brands or products and everything else should flow from there. We’ve used it often as a geo-location ‘proxy’ (at suburb level) to inform where consumers live to establish the foundation of where the consumer narrative plays out. From a category perspective there’s a lot of data available which allows us to profile each consumer category in detail which is very valuable.

I’m looking forward to unpacking this data with the new release of ROOTS.”

Wayne Bishop, Managing Director (Johannesburg) at PHD South Africa remarks, “ROOTS has always been an insightful survey that injects significant marketing, branding and retail data into the industry. Since its inception in 1980, the survey has not only proved to highlight changes in the composition of geographical micro-economies, but has also been a constant reflection in the changes to the South African market as a whole.

Anyone interested in business growth should be a constant interrogator of the facts and data points from ROOTS. If you are not, you are missing one of the most valuable vaults of information that comes from an in-depth look into 27 000 lives and what drives their purchase habits.”

Rika Nell, Group Talent Director at Joe Public says: “I’ve been using ROOTS for more than ten years and find it invaluable at understanding community groups. Adding it to my data analysis mix not only improves my strategic decisions, but makes it easy to convince clients too.

This year I’m looking forward to a deeper dive regarding the use of Social Media and digital growth areas.”

For the June launch, SPARK Media will partner with LEGO to showcase ROOTS 2019.

“Just as LEGO encourages imagination and inspiration with their building bricks, so do we encourage that same curiosity and enthusiasm in the thorough and in-depth interrogation of the ROOTS 2019 data, providing the building bricks for marketing strategies and insightful media plans,” concludes Debbie. “We can’t wait to launch!”

ROOTS launches in Durban on the 4th of June, Johannesburg on the 6th of June and Cape Town on the 11th of June.  For more information and to book space visit or contact

For more on SPARK Media, visit our website and follow us on social media @sparkmediasa.


Established in 2015, SPARK Media, a division of CTP Ltd, are experts in retail and location based marketing solutions. The company owns and represents an arsenal of print products that deliver locally relevant, effective audiences for advertising clients. SPARK Media are Strategic Partners in Audience Research and Knowledge and offer ‘Insights that Ignite’.

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