It’s time to get serious about digital marketing measurement in Africa.

If your marketing online in Africa, chances are you could be seriously getting ripped off. I am talking about brands and businesses that are spending serious cash on digital marketing with a myriad of online publishers. The reality is that in many cases, the places where they are marketing are not delivering the goods in terms of the expected online traffic, as marketed by the online publisher. There is a simple reason for this – there is no real focus on accurate and detailed digital measurement.

Let me start by saying that there are many ways of measuring digital marketing performance. One of the most common tools these days is Google Analytics. In plain English, this free tool from the world’s largest search engine company is able to give you a detailed analysis of how well your web site is performing. Some of the key metrics on Google Analytics or any decent analytics tool include impressions, traffic sources, unique visitors, conversions, etc.

In a nutshell, you can track your web site performance down to very fine minutiae. In addition, as an online marketer, you can ask the online publisher you hope to use or already use to give you access to their analytics reports to make an informed decision as to whether to market with them or not. Typically, a snippet as below from a Google Analytics report is what you could expect to see:







One particular metric that for some reason is still being touted in Africa as a way of measuring online marketing performance is “hits”. You will often hear of online publishers claiming to have “millions of hits” per month and they will try to get you as an advertiser using this metric. The truth is this term and method of measuring web site traffic went out with the first dotcom crash a decade ago.

What matters these days more than anything are unique visitors per month who come to your web site as a result of advertising – this is really the gold standard of how to measure an online publisher’s true performance. However, sometimes, getting this information is challenging and subtler methods can be used to get a more detailed picture on exactly how well an online publisher is doing.

In addition to web analytics, there are several web sites that do offer a way of gauging an online publisher to see if they are worth their salt, so to speak. One such web site is Alexa. Alexa is a web site ranking service that has been operational for sometime now. Alexa uses a toolbar that is installed on web browsers to get an idea of how often a web site is visited. In most cases, Alexa will give you the 100 top web sites in a country for free.

However, Alexa is not perfect. It is possible for the rankings to be manipulated, but to a large extent it is more or less accurate in terms of telling you if an online publisher is doing well or not. For instance, if you put Dealfish.co.ke, the website I run in Kenya on Alexa, you will find that our web site currently has a ranking of 11 – meaning it’s the second most popular local web site in Kenya. It will also rank any other web sites you may want to test using various online tools – definitely worth a spin if you want to get some insights on where the online traffic is in Kenya as below:














Another website that I simply love for digital marketing measurement is Compete. Compete has both free and paid services, just like Alexa. However, one of the coolest aspects of this site is that it lets you compare a web site against the competition in terms of unique visitors. This sort of insight is invaluable if you have limited online marketing spend and want to get a “thumb suck” of where your money would be best spent between an array of online publishers, based on traffic. It’s really quite simple to use and as you can see below the following does give some interesting comparisons on traffic between three competing web sites:









This list of digital marketing measurement tools is not exhaustive. It just goes to show the various ways in which you can make informed decisions when you are considering online marketing alternatives. At the end of the day, it simply means you can make better calls on what would work best for your brand(s) or organization in the very nascent digital marketing landscape that is in Kenya, and the rest of Africa

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  1. Allan Kapten
    July 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    Hey man,nice post. Thanks for the good work you’re doing,keep it up and God bless you.

  2. July 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    When it comes to accurate statistics, Google analytics is the safer bet. Alexa mostly way off unless you’ve embedded their code into all your pages which is often not good as their meta really slows down your page load.

  3. July 17, 2011 at 5:52 am — Reply

    Timely post Moses. I agree with Peter here that Alexa is really not that useful a tool in Kenya because it is so easy to manipulate the results. Alexa is also very poor at capturing mobile browsing traffic in Kenya – in fact one thing that all of these suffer from is weaknesses around measuring mobile traffic particularly Nokia traffic. For Kenyan website operators, this is a massive gap.

    Apart from Google Analytics, the others are also very weak in methodology, using extrapolated numbers based on a ‘panel’ of users, with very small numbers of Kenyan panellists.

    I wonder if we could persuade Safaricom and others to publish an ISP level view of internet browsing habits in Kenya that could act as a useful measure in this area?

  4. July 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    @carey and @peter thanks for the insights. This was a starting point on the issue of measurement which gets far too little attention in Africa. I second the idea of getting the ISPs and the Internet exchange points to start offering insights on traffic metrics. These would certainly be more useful for us all.

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