Good growth continues in South Africa’s digital advertising industry

By our News Team | 2023

Interactive Advertising Bureau study finds internet advertising has reached a new high of 34% of the overall SA advertising market.

Digital growth continues in South Africa, spurring an increase in advertising investment. This is according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual ‘Internet Advertising Revenue Report’ released on Thursday (14 September).


The study quantifies the size of domestic media revenues on the internet, including mobile. It is conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in partnership with the consultancy PwC, which coordinates similar studies in other territories.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Key findings include: 


  • Internet advertising has reached a new high of 34% of the overall advertising market.


  • Digital advertising spend is between 21% and 40% of total advertising spend.


  • Total internet advertising revenue amounted to US$760-million (R14.51-billion).


  • Paid search dominates internet advertising in South Africa.


  • Paid social advertising is the second-largest category in the local digital advertising market, with Meta a dominant player.


  • Finance, FMCG and alcohol remain the categories with the highest percentage of media spend. Gaming, media and entertainment, apparel and footwear, and retail all increased.


The report also highlights key themes from the IAB SA Research and Measurement Council. Among them:


Generative AI 


The boom in machine learning and generative AI – which uses tools such as ChatGPT, Midjourney and DALL-E 2 to create images and content from text-based prompts – has the potential to have a huge impact on the digital advertising market. 


As technology advances, advertisers could use AI and machine learning to drive personalisation at scale and adapt ads based on the age, location or context of users. 


This is particularly useful in a world where it is increasingly difficult to track users online, with Google’s forthcoming termination of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser and privacy updates to Apple’s iOS.


Use of AR and VR in advertising 


AR and VR can create interactive virtual environments that allow users to explore and engage with a brand. VR also extends into the metaverse, which presents potential opportunities for personalised ads and product placement, AI brand ambassadors or influencers, and try-before-you-buy virtual shopping experiences and showrooms. 


This could significantly impact brand value, as companies can use this technology to engage with audiences in personal and contextually relevant ways, with tailored experiences for individual users.


Looking beyond the advertising giants 


Although they dominate the internet advertising market in South Africa and globally, marketers and advertisers can look beyond Google and Meta for advertising solutions. 


Publishers, in particular, provide an opportunity for targeted advertising beyond the walled gardens of Meta and Google as first-party data becomes increasingly key to the digital advertising market. 

Razia Pillay, CEO at IAB South Africa, says digital media in has increased rapidly in recent years, with the introduction of new digital innovations and technology such as the metaverse, applications of generative artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

“This year’s key themes dip into these innovations, running in parallel with the [our] theme of breaking barriers for business impact. We will keep these conversations top of mind as we continue to understand the evolution of the customer,” she states.

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.