Patrick Atherton, Managing Director – The South African
Tell us briefly about yourself and the digital media property you represent.
We’re a daily source of news and entertainment for South Africans both locally and abroad. Our teams operate from London, Cape Town, Jozi and Durban, delivering a voice and style that’s managed to attract a globally minded audience.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for digital media in South Africa? Content, advertising contextual relevance etc.
Using the insight and experience our international teams allows us to adapt to trends in South Africa that often follow those of Europe and the US. These are the five challenges we are currently focused on:
1. Understanding social; this is continuously morphing whether it be the way users interact with the platform or how each platform handles third party content.
2. Revenue generation; how do or should digital publishers make money? Direct sales, programmatically, sponsored content, blended?
3. Generating content that’s attractive and easy to digest, all the while sticking to what makes people come to our site for information and entertainment in the first place.
4. Holding on to legacy readers who’ve grown to love the brand as a print version, while pushing further into digital.
5. Punching through the increasing amount of counterfeit information on the web.
If you had to pick one, do you see your property as being:
A: a value for money – great reach,
B: niche, but extremely relevant, or
C: contextualised for the user?
We’re a bit of both B and C. Being a very small team, we need to be able to tailor our content to our unique audience, as well as build on our successes by offering new readers a perspective they might not be used to.
What is going to be your focus for the next 12 months to ensure you are able to offer advertisers A, B, or C?
We attribute our growth to the evolution and development of our unique voice and style. Our focus will remain on honing and perfecting strategies that work, while continuing to build a purely digital offering that gives advertisers greater value with a tightly targeted reach, more than they would have traditionally attached to print advertising.
What is your greatest concern when it comes to the digital industry in South Africa?
Across all areas of the business, our greatest concern is with personnel. There are not enough people in the job market that understand digital media – this may be endemic across many industry sectors in South Africa. We are forced to recruit directly from tertiary education and provide training and mentorship internally to ensure candidates are skilled and not tarnished by previous experience.
What are your plans in the next 12 months to “make digital awesome?”
You’d have more luck with a crystal ball than taking any insight from us on how to make digital awesome! We’ll keep our heads down and focus on developing our unique voice and style, something that’s helped us build up a steady growth in readers both locally and abroad; but that’s also contributed to an increasing number of our pieces going viral.