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The advertising industry in Kenya is rapidly developing and continues to attract both local and international players. The multi-billion sector has seen exponential growth in the five years up to 2012. Local advertising spend was estimated to be KSh 20 billion in 2008, which by 2011 had risen to KSh 65.4 billion, exclusive of online and outdoor advertising. According to trend analysts, the political sector has the highest ad spend.
As part of the keen international interest, the country has seen the arrival of French-based Havas Media International, South African media group, Carat and, in 2012, the American agency TBWA. The African-wide marketing services group Scangroup continues to occupy the greatest proportion of work in relation to advertising agencies, 70% in 2011.
Media Edge Interactive, the advertising branch of the indigenous integrated marketing house, and BluePrint Marketing, an Ogilvy Kenya subsidiary, were the latest companies to be formally admitted to the Advertising Practitioners Association (APA) membership roll. The APA is the umbrella organisation which enforces advertising standards through adherence to a code of conduct and advocates for professionalism among its members. Agencies must meet APA’s standards in relation to financial operations, professional management and ethical operating standards in order to attain recognition. Media Edge and BluePrint Marketing were admitted to the Association as part of its aim to open up membership to specialist agencies, raising the number of member agencies to 15.
The Public Relations Society of Kenya represents the industry in the country and has affiliations to regional, continental and global PR bodies. It aims to promote the industry in the country to adhere to global standards of professionalisation.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) places Kenya 86th out of 144 countries in relation to the extent of marketing. It was given a value of 3.8 out of 7, below the world mean of 4.1, indicating that companies use of sophisticated marketing tools and techniques is not yet extensive. This was reflected in terms of the buyer sophistication indicator, once again placing 86th, with a score of 3.3 out of 7. Coming just below the world mean of 3.5, this suggests that buyers are less likely to make purchasing decisions based on a sophisticated analysis of performance attributes, than based solely on price.
Advertising in Kenya is predominantly based around the traditional forms of radio, television, newspapers and cinema. Radio continues to be the greatest beneficiary of spend on advertising – in the first quarter of 2012 KSh 8.1 billion was spent on radio advertising, which was four times higher than the amount spent on print media. This is partly thanks to the proliferation of vernacular and community stations in the country, with over 160 stations overall in 2012. The media is also attractive due to its low cost of entry compared to other forms. The second most significant media is television – with a advertising spend of 7.8 billion in first quarter of 2012.
Advertising is also adapting to technological advances, particularly in relation to mobile phones. Mobile advertising continues to develop into a key marketing channel within the increasingly technology-driven Kenya consumer market.