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By 24 July 2013 | Categories: news

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According to research conducted by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) and Echo Consultancy, the number of South African internet users has grown by more than two million over the past year.

Furthermore, the research pegged the total internet population at present to be close to the 14 million users mark, representing 39% of the adult population.

The DMMA explained that the calculated percentage was derived from the All Media Products Survey (AMPS) and independently validated by Effective Measure (EM), the DMMA’s official measurement provider for digital audience data.   

Have I got your attention?

The research though, is not just an indicator of how South Africa is growing with regards to internet adoption, it also has positive ramifications for advertisers as well, as it means that there is a larger local internet audience that can be reached. Indeed, it was this reason that apparently prompted the research in the first place.

Jarred Cinman, chair of the DMMA Steering comittee, explained that it needed to provide its members with a more realistic view of the total internet population in South Africa. “The validated figure of 14 million users is significant as it indicates that a greater percentage of South Africans are consuming media online than previously reported. This has direct implications for the media mix that marketers purchase,” he elaborated.

People, not browsers, matter

Peter Langschmidt, MD of Echo and who sits on the South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) board, added that Effective Measure (EM) derives its figures through tagged sites, which count unique browsers.

He pointed out that some users access the internet from more than one device, such as a notebook, mobile phone and home computer. “EM will count this as three Unique Browsers, but marketers are interested in reaching people not machines. Therefore, we weighted EM’s Unique Brower data against AMPS’ multiple device usage and the EM panel to translate the number from browsers to people,” he explained.

Langschmidt continued that in the case of internet penetration in South Africa from AMPS, there was most definitely respondent confusion regarding internet usage, with many respondents not equating websites accessed via their mobile phones with internet browsing. “Through recoding AMPS to take mobile access into account, we were able to provide a figure that matched the EM online universe,” he continued.

Drilling down into details

This methodology that was used to convert browsers into a more accurate, people centric representation entailed the time periods of the AMPS and Effective Measure data sets being matched.

As EM’s Unique Browsers accessing the internet at that time was recorded as being 15 million, this was reduced by 23% using the EM panel and AMPS multiple device calculations, to arrive at a figure of 11.6 million monthly internet users.

Finally, the AMPS figures were recalibrated to include web browsing via mobile phones as well as computers, which increased the numbers from 8.6 million to 11.3 million monthly internet users.

“In the middle of last year EM reported that there were 15 million Unique Browsers. In the last year this number has grown to 20 million. By applying the derived formula, we can say that these 20 million Unique Browsers represent just under 14 million adult users,” explained Langschmidt.

To the point

This accuracy is important, not for the sake of pedantic, but rather as it could then be used to show the viability of online advertising.

“This is great news for all of our publisher members in particular as it is predicted that ad spend across online channels will grow as a result, as marketers will attribute greater weight to digital media,” concluded Cinman.

Indeed, in a world in which print seems to have fallen out of favour, and marketers look for more avenues to reach general users, this is no doubt good news for those involved in content creation and digital media online. However, to our minds, there is a subtler, positive message contained in the shift, that hints that South Africa is slowly but surely progressing on the digital media front as well.  

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