The state of digital media
And while South Africa has been a little slower than other markets to shift its ad spend into digital, a 2015 study that PwC issued on behalf of IAB SA showed that in 2015 digital ad spend had surpassed the R3.4-billion mark which translates as a 36% year-on-year growth.
These two factors make the nature of trust and the validity of online content even more important. Yes, digital media is so much larger than what news publishers are publishing. But what content we engage with online and who pays for it has now become a critical issue in this country’s leap into the digital landscape – it is all connected.
The delicate duo of digital advertising and paid-for content sit alongside editorial news. News teams are now called content generators. Brands are able to purchase space within editorial feeds. Ad placements are automated and so too will native content. Throw in the growth of fake news and it becomes a murky minefield.
This brings me back to my point about trust. Digital media has grown so rapidly (relatively) and the nature of what we see and read and where it is delivered to us has become very complex – which is why it is vulnerable to exploitation. It is vital for the industry to hold itself critically accountable. Ultimately we who create the spaces; sell the spaces and publish the content need to be its custodians.
We need to do this with integrity and purpose, because ultimately those who own the digital media hold the power.