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Facebook have just lost R120 billion! By Richard Lord, Media & Operations Director, Meta Media

Advertisers are taking a stand against Facebook’s stance on hate speech and it is causing the share price to nosedive (8% down on Friday 26 June).

Since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minnesota police in May 2020, the world has been taking a very deep, introspective look at itself. Many companies are owning up to systemic racism and consumers are starting to hold companies, celebrities, and individuals to account for the things that they do and say.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement one of the things that has really come to the fore is the argument about free speech vs. hate speech. Our view is that hate speech of any kind can simply not be tolerated. To make anybody feel less than they should be because of our words is simply abhorrent. To belittle people, or discriminate against them because they are different is not acceptable. It is globally felt that social media platforms have been complicit in giving airtime to hate speech, veiled behind the curtain of freedom of speech and a stance against the censorship of content. Whilst there is some merit in this, freedom of speech cannot ever be used to cover hate speech. But the world is now taking a stand.

Some social media platforms are listening. Twitter has taken on Donald Trump, labelling some of his tweets as a violation of their rules about abusive behaviour, or putting fact checking labels on some of his more outrageous statements. Snapchat has stopped promoting Donald Trump’s account meaning it will no longer be discoverable. Snapchat said that it would not “amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice”.

Facebook on the other hand has been very reticent to follow suit. This has led to an internal staff revolt1 against Mark Zuckerberg, and more recently an initiative led by civil rights activists in the US to encourage advertisers to boycott the platform until reforms to Facebook’s policies are made. They say Facebook has failed in a number of ways: by allowing posts that incite violence against #BLM protestors, for not removing holocaust denial content, by making right-wing website Breitbart a trusted news source, and for allowing the platform to be used to suppress voting because of fake news.

The initiative is gaining traction with some notably big global brands backing the boycott. So far, we have seen Coca-Cola, Diageo, Honda America, Levi Strauss, The North Face, Patagonia, Starbucks, Unilever, and Verizon all lending their support to this growing boycott. All in all, over 100 advertisers have joined the campaign.

But will it make a difference?

Facebook has over 8 million advertisers. The vast majority of them are small, local businesses. Big advertisers only make up a small percentage of Facebook’s total ad revenue, and whilst it is admirable that these 100 advertisers are taking a stand for what is right, their spend however, is just a drop in the big blue Facebook ocean. Also, the majority of these brands are only “pausing” their advertising in the US. In my humble opinion, if they really wanted to make a statement, they should support the boycott on a global level – that might make more of an impact. Additionally, the boycott, in most instances is only slated for the month of July. But what about after July? Are black lives only important for a month? Is there a shelf-life on hate speech, fake news, and disinformation?

The bigger question is will this actually force Facebook to make changes to their policies on hate speech and racism?

Boycotts of Facebook have come and gone – remember Cambridge Analytica? Advertisers boycotted Facebook then too. Consumers threatened to delete their Facebook accounts in protest. But nobody actually did. Facebook still grew by 2% in the quarter after the scandal broke. The advertisers all came back.

Why? Because Facebook is too valuable a platform to ignore. They are big. They have millions of consumers who spend an inordinate amount of time on the platform. Advertising works. Whilst it is certainly admirable that big business is taking a stand like this, how long will it last? How long before profit trumps (not Donald) principle?

Will Facebook make the changes that everyone is campaigning for? Maybe. But if advertisers only boycott for a month, this will be a small blip on Facebook’s financial statement. The share price will recover. The revenues will return. For what it is worth, Facebook have made some platitudes to advertisers about closing the “trust deficit”2 and Mark Zuckerberg has in recent days made promises3 to do more.

Time will tell if this will an historic moment for change, or simply a small profit warning for shareholders in Q3 of 2020.


Stay Curious!

Richard Lord is Media & Operations Director at Meta Media, South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. At Meta Media we don’t just look at the numbers, we dig deeper, we look for the story behind the story. We find the “so what” to give our clients the edge, to provide real solutions based on real insights. We are real, we are authentic. We are curious.

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What is happening in 2020?

Richard Lord, Media & Operations Director, Meta Media discusses.

A new year. A new decade. And as with every new year, everyone wants to know what 2020 is going to hold in store for us in our world of media and advertising.

Already this year my inbox has been inundated with top 10 trend predictions, and I’m sure that many of yours have been too. I am not going to re-hash and regurgitate those.

Instead I am going to focus on one trend in particular that has been gaining momentum for some time now and is showing no signs of slowing down. It is a trend that, whilst having a significant impact on consumers, has yet to be fully embraced by advertisers.

That trend is the continued growth and movement of audiences to online streaming video. The pace of on-demand video continues unabated. We have a new entrant into the marketplace… Apple TV+. If the past is anything to go by, we know that whatever Apple puts their money behind is going to be successful and will drive others to follow.

The big difference between Apple TV+ and the rest is that they are taking the 100% original content approach – although Netflix and Showmax also play in the original content space.

Netflix received 24 nominations in this year’s Academy Awards. This is more than ANY OTHER Hollywood studio. This shows just how important good quality content is for attracting and keeping audiences! But they also carry content produced by the major Hollywood studios. Apple on the other hand has partnered with some superstar creators like Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams and will only show original content. Apple TV+ is priced similarly to Netflix at around $7 per month (or R105 depending on how well the Rand is doing). But Apple is keen to incentivise trial – so if you buy any new Apple device you get a year’s free subscription to the service.

The back end of 2019 also saw the launch of Disney Plus. This is set to shake up the world of streaming video in a big way. Disney Plus will stream ALL of Disney’s vast catalogue of movies and TV shows, AND also every Marvel movie and TV show ever made, every Pixar movie ever made, every Star Wars movie and TV show ever made, plus Disney also own National Geographic and ESPN. All of that content will be available on the platform too! Talk about a powerhouse. What this means is that as Disney’s contracts with other streaming services like Amazon and Netflix come up for renewal, all Disney content will be taken off those platforms and kept exclusively as their own. We don’t know yet when Disney Plus will launch in South Africa. Tech savvy South African’s will find a work around to get the service, but don’t expect to see it officially in SA until at least 2021.

And of course, let’s not forget that South African’s also have access to Showmax, Dstv Now and YouTube, all of which have big audiences and excellent content. I have written about this before, but just to demonstrate the size of the Dstv audience watching content digitally, the 2019 RWC final between SA and England had in excess of 500,000 unique viewers on the Dstv Now platform!

What does this mean for advertisers? Well simply, it means that consumers have more choice and it’s going to become harder to pin down audiences. Whilst there is no advertising yet available on Netflix, Apple TV or Amazon Prime, it is coming soon to Dstv Now and Showmax, and YouTube have been taking ads for years. This means that it is going to cost more to reach these fragmented audiences.

But let me caveat this with a dose of reality; in order to access any of these streaming services, people need decent, high-speed internet. So over and above the monthly subscription fees that the OTTs charge, there is the added cost of data. Data in South Africa is prohibitively expensive, whether it be 4G from your cellular provider, or fibre to your home. Not everyone can afford to watch content online which means that this trend is going to affect the top-end of the market more than the mass market. But the Competition Commission is looking to the cellular providers to drastically drop the price of data and once that happens, we will see more and more people going this route.

Additionally, many companies offer free WIFI to consumers in shopping malls, airports, and taxi ranks, all of which allows consumers to watch and download content to their devices. This means that even in the mass market there are very big audiences that can be spoken to through the likes of YouTube and Viu (which hosts much of the SABC’s local content such as Uzalo, Generations and Skeem Saam).

Should you now rush off and ask your media strategist to stop advertising on TV? Of course not! TV in South Africa is still the single best media platform for reach, no other platform comes close! No, TV advertising is safe, cost effective, and will continue to work in growing your brand. However, TV advertising should be supplemented with spend on digital video platforms. The benefits are numerous:

  1. Additional reach. With more people turning to digital video as their primary (and sometimes only) form of entertainment, using TV and digital video lets brands speak to everyone.
  2. Better, cheaper, targeted reach. Whilst TV is great for speaking to the masses, it is not as targeted as we would like. YouTube and Facebook however offer loads of data to overlay onto our bookings, so we can ensure messages are seen by the right people.
  3. Expand on your message. Let’s face it, TV is expensive! A 30 second ad in Uzalo on SABC 1 costs well over R200,000! Even brands with huge budgets can only afford to buy so many spots. But because digital video is cheap, brands can flight longer ads unpacking offers, or flight multiple ads allowing for the showcasing of an entire brand range.
  4. Lastly, there are some audiences that are just impossible to speak to through any other media platform except digital! Generation Z and the hard-to-fathom millennials are very light (even non-existent) TV viewers, but they live online. If they form a part of your brand’s target audience, digital video is not only a no-brainer, but an absolute necessity in media plans!

Richard Lord is Media & Operations Director at Meta Media, South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. At Meta Media we don’t just look at the numbers, we dig deeper, we look for the story behind the story. We find the “so what” to give our clients the edge, to provide real solutions based on real insights. We are real, we are authentic. We are curious!

Meta Media DNA

Meta Media is South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. They are a data-led team who don’t just look at the numbers, they dig deeper and look for the story behind the story. They find the “so what” to give their clients real solutions based on real insights.

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The Super Bowl – the story you didn’t know

By: Richard Lord, Media & Operations Director, Meta Media

 So, the Super Bowl, the world’s biggest televised sporting event, was played this past Sunday with the New England Patriots winning a record equalling 6th title, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the lowest scoring game in NFL history. This was Super Bowl LIII which, for the uninitiated (like me – I had to look it up), means it was the 53rd edition of the event that closes out the American NFL season.

 Even here at the southern tip of Africa, land of boerewors and rugby, we have heard of the Super Bowl. We might not understand it but I am sure that some of us watched it…all 4 hours of it, even though actual game time is only 60 minutes. Crazy Americans!

But in South Africa, and particularly in our industry, the Super Bowl is synonymous with ads – lots of ads. Very expensive ads. You will have read comments and articles over the years marvelling at just how expensive a single 30 second ad in the Super Bowl costs (upward of $5 million this year by the way). We have all seen the ads…brands like Tide, Volvo, Budweiser, Coca-Cola all spring to mind. And of course, there was the famous 2013 black-out where Oreo won the Super Bowl by reminding us that you could still dunk in the dark!

The Super Bowl is also synonymous with half-time shows…some amazing, some funny, usually controversial – who can forget Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” with Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004), or Left Shark overshadowing Katy Perry in Super Bowl XLIX (2015), and this year a bare-chested Adam Levine and Maroon 5 caused a Tweet storm with accusations of sexism and double standards.

But this article is not about all of that. You can run a Google search and read all of the other articles about the ads, the halftime shows, the advertising rates, and the audiences if you want. I thought that I would rather look at the #StoryBehindTheStory and tell you five things that you probably didn’t know about the Super Bowl. So here goes:

1. Why do they use all of those crazy Roman numerals anyway? It wasn’t always this way. The first four Super Bowls were not numbered at all. The Super Bowl is played at the beginning of the year following the year in which the season actually ends…the 2019 Super Bowl that has just been played is the final game of the 2018 season. The 2019 Super Bowl has nothing to do with the 2019 football season. Confusing right? So to clear up the confusion, a chap by the name of Lamar Hunt decided that instead of using dates to keep track of the Super Bowls they would use numbers instead; and he decided on Roman numerals. Numbers I through IV were added to the first four championship games after the fact.

2. Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest “eating” day for Americans, after Thanks Giving! 1.25 billion chicken wings are eaten, along with 54.4 million kilograms of avocado (probably in the form of guacamole), 4 million pizzas and 50 million cases of beer – hopefully Bud, otherwise are their Super Bowl ads really working?

3. Ads may cost a whopping $5 million (R67 million) today, but it hasn’t always been that way. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967 and a 30 second ad back then only cost $40,000. As the audiences have grown, unsurprisingly, ad rates have steadily increased. In fact according to Ad Age, in excess of $4.9 billion has been spent on advertising in the Super Bowl over the past 53 years. The TV audience in 1967? 50 million viewers. The audience this past Sunday? 100 million! Ad rates have increased by 12,400% whilst audiences have only increased by 100%.

4. And speaking of prices…what does a ticket to the Super Bowl cost? This year the cheapest ticket you could buy, according to Business Insider, was $2,900. The most expensive ticket was a whopping $93,000! By comparison, the average median income of an American who works a 40 hour week is $44,000 – so some people spent more on a Super Bowl ticket than the average American earns in a year!

5. How much are the performers paid for the half time show? Zero, zip, zilch, nada is the answer. The NFL does not pay performers an appearance fee but, according to the New York Times, they do pay all related travel expenses, body guards, lighting, stage crew. Over the years it has also been rumoured that performers actually pay the NFL to appear – this is not true either.

So now you know the ins and outs of the world’s biggest televised sporting event. The next time you’re standing round the braai with your mates, you can wow and impress them with these lesser known Super Bowl facts.

 Stay Curious!

 Meta Media DNA

Meta Media is South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. They don’t just look at the numbers, they dig deeper, they look for the story behind the story. They find the “so what” to give their clients the edge, to give their clients real solutions based on real insights. They are real, they are authentic. They are curious.

Meta Media makes first crucial appointment

Chris Botha, Group Managing Director of Park Advertising has announced Kagiso Musi as Managing Director of newly formed media agency Meta Media.

 Musi brings an abundance of aptitude and two decades’ worth of business, marketing and communications experience. She also recently completed her MBA. This multifaceted combination of experience allows her to strategically approach business opportunities and solve problems and challenges more holistically.

“As an experienced marketing and communications executive who has deep operational and management experience, Kagiso brings a wealth of diverse knowledge and skill to our newly created media agency,” says Chris. “Additionally she has been an active member on many boards including amongst others, Wunderman, MSG Afrika Group and The Jupiter Drawing Room.”

“The rapidly changing media landscape and sophistication of audiences is an exciting space for me,” adds Musi. “The opportunity to balance traditional approaches with the growth in connected devices and omni-channel media behaviour is a challenge I look forward to, together with the formidable clients and teams I will be leading and working with.”

“We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Kagiso to this remarkable industry that we love so much and know that she will be a great fit for Meta Media and take this burgeoning agency confidently into the future and to new heights,” concludes Chris.

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