Digital Marketing from a South African Perspective

Ogilvy and Mather South Africa believe that an effective digital presence is crucial for any brand to truly succeed in today’s digital world and South Africa is no exception. We understand the dynamic and evolving digital marketing practices in a South African context.

Traditional marketing has arguably revolved around McCarthy’s Four P’s model: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. With regard to digital marketing, there is an additional “P”, which stands for People. Digital marketing revolves around the end-user, people who browse the Internet. This means that there is a fundamental shift in digital marketing to focus on the user-experience of the consumers who browse the Internet.

Digital marketing is comprised of various specialised disciplines: Search Engine Marketing, Display Marketing, Web Development, Mobile Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

The South African Digital Landscape | Digital Agency Insight


Fourteen million South African’s or more than 30% of South Africa’s population* is now connected to the Internet. This accounts for 39% of South African adults*. A fascinating truth is that using the Internet is more popular than reading newspapers in South Africa, because 17% of South Africans read a newspaper daily while 22% use the Internet daily**.

Just Google It

Search Engine Marketing consists of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO and Paid Search.

In reality SEO refers to the new and popular “Google” verb, namely, to “Google” something or someone on the Internet. It is therefore important to have a noteworthy presence in this digital space. Most browsers do not type in a website’s address or URL but instead they Google it. What is the point of having a brilliant website if no one can find it?
There are two types of possible entries on a Search Result Pages (SERP). There are the paid for adverts (Adwords) in beige “boxes” at the top, and as a vertical list on the right side of the page. These ads can also include images now.

The entries with a white background, in the middle of the page and below the beige “box” are known as “natural” search results. Organic /Natural Search Results are largely seen as more credible than paid search adverts by browsers. The general digital marketing industry consensus is that these organic search results are far more credible than paid for ads, because they are perceived as more relevant and are not seen as manipulating the search results.

As a digital agency, we focus most of our SEO efforts on the Google Search Engine, because is the most visited website in South Africa***. Therefore the vast majority of all Internet or online searches in South Africa are done through  SEO is critical for your website to be accessed by more of your target market because most Internet browsers only look at the first few search results on the first page. Google search is the primary gateway to the Internet for consumers, so it makes sense that your brand is very visible in this digital landscape. That is why SEO is crucial for your brand’s long-term online visibility or presence.

While SEO focuses on the long-term visibility of a website in search results, Google’s Adwords ads are ideal for short-term campaigns. Adwords ads can, however complement your long-term online search visibility efforts as well. The most prominent form of Paid Search Marketing is Adwords. By utilizing Adwords to promote your website you will widen your figurative “net” for you to gain prospective customers via the Internet. A well-executed Adwords campaign can be quickly tailored to meet the exact and changing requirements of the above-the-line campaign you are running for your brand. Through Google’s peer-less grasp on the demographics of Internet users, you can target the consumers who would be interested in your brand.

Pictures Say A Thousand Words

Display or banner advertising is the oldest form of digital advertising in South Africa. Display advertising has progressed like every other digital marketing discipline. Google’s Display Network is the largest ‘broker’ or network for placing display adverts on third party websites. Your Google Display Network ads can be videos, interactive, text or images.

Like Adwords, you can also target consumers who would most likely be interested in your brand. Many in the digital marketing industry believe that display ads are very useful for generating online brand awareness.

Do People Like Your Website?

No matter how successful your brand is, your website should be user-friendly. This principle is derived from digital marketing’s fifth “P”. Browsers of your website must find it an enjoyable experience. This user-friendly or usability factor coincides with your website’s need to also be Google-friendly (SEO). Google wishes to provide browsers with the best possible user-experience through their search result pages.

Lastly, your website should be mobile-device-friendly as well. This is because the majority of consumers access websites via their mobile phones or mobile devices, whilst some consumers access websites only via their mobile phones. Google recommends that you should have a website with a responsive design. This means it is a desktop website which simply adjusts its appearance for compatibility on mobile devices. A responsive website negates the need for a mobile or mobi site, thereby halving the site maintenance.

Going Mobile

South African’s are using their mobile phones and mobile devices to connect to the Internet like never before. Twenty percent of all South African Internet users only connect to the Internet via their mobile phones***. You can target consumers with Google Adwords ads or Display Network ads on their mobile devices, while they browse the Internet. Harnessing this mobile platform has become an integral component of today’s digital marketing. Digital Applications or Apps for mobile devices are an important mobile digital marketing tool. Engaging consumers on their mobile devices has never been more important. An exciting mobile development is augmented reality.

Sharing Your Social Life

Social Media Marketing is part of the very fabric of modern living; this includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MXit, Google+, Pinterest, blogs and many more social media platforms. Whether it is for online brand awareness, reputation management, advertising campaigns for launching products or all of the above; there is a great opportunity for your brand to benefit from Social Media Marketing. Facebook, for example is a brilliant digital ‘demand generator’ via word-of-mouth. Many people view Facebook as a digital PR medium only; but Facebook users tolerate adverts because they browse Facebook to be distracted; as a form of escapism. Social media metrics should be focused around relevant interactions with your brand to achieve your goals.

Digital Synergy, Creativity and Effectiveness

Digital marketing is evolving at a rapid rate. The above digital disciplines are the major components that make up contemporary digital marketing. Ogilvy and Mather South Africa is at the forefront of this exciting digital world.

According to Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide CEO & Chairman Miles Young: “We are a very digital agency; in fact, probably the largest digital agency in the world. We were the first agency actually to have an interactive capability, back in the 1980’s. Right now we have over eight thousand digital specialists globally. We are leading the industry in terms of developing digitally-enabled content ecosystems.”

Ogilvy Mather South Africa has the expertise to harness every digital marketing discipline effectively, to create a digital synergy for your brand. Browse Ogilvy and Mather South Africa’s work to see how we do it, with the Twin Peaks of Creativity and Effectiveness in mind.

Ogilvy & Mather South Africa’s Digital Network

OgilvyOne Worldwide

The leading digital agency in South Africa; OgilvyOne Worldwide digital agency offers digital marketing, CRM, data, direct marketing and other services.


South Africa’s leading digital media buying agency; offering turnkey digital media buying, search engine marketing (SEO & Paid Search), social media and mobile marketing.


We design integrated social solutions that combine deep disciplines like CRM, public relations and shopper marketing and rooted in what drives behaviour.

Strike Media

Strike Media is a full service mobile marketing agency and forms part of the global Mobile@Ogilvy practice. Strike delivers customised mobile campaigns and services to brands, driving rapid and measurable return on marketing investments.

Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy

The Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy offers customized, corporate learning programmes in a range of digital subjects, backed by the expertise and insight of Ogilvy.


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* University of Witwatersrand, Echo and Word Wide Worx.
** University of Witwatersrand.

Stephen Sandmann – SEO Strategist, Neo@Ogilvy South Africa
November 1st, 2013