Ad tech starts with understanding the consumer

By Chandler Wieberg


Austin, Texas, United States


Advertising follows ad spend.

Ad spend follows consumers.

This was the message from Elsa Mungiria, digital and data manager at Saracen PHD Advertising in Kenya, during the recent INMA Africa News Media Summit.

Mungiria talked about ad tech from an advertising perspective: “For us to understand ad tech, we must understand the consumer,” she said.

To understand the consumer, it is important to look at the past consumer versus the current consumer. As an example, Mungiria showed how the past consumer had limited access to communication channels to receive content, mostly television, radio, or print. Today, the consumer has multiple channels to receive content, including through many different digital platforms and subscriptions.  

Mungiria proposed finding what the consumer is looking for: “They’re looking for creativity. How creative are we in getting to them?”  

Mungiria talked about three key drivers for the strategy at Saracen.

  • Creativing: In what creative ways is content getting to consumers with platforms?

  • Society: What are the latest topics society is talking about?

  • Technology: What are the trending platforms and tech consumers using, and what new features can companies use to reach consumers?

Consumers are not only seeing advertising on television anymore. Mungiria gave a statistic from 2020, in which 95.6% of the online population used another device while watching television.

“Behaviours are shifting, and we need to also make sure that we’re relevant to our consumers,” she said. “In the past, you could see how ad tech was targeted towards a mass audience. But now we are looking for an opportunity to make sure we’re relevant to our consumers.”

It is important to be connected to all channels consumers use, as well being there when the consumer needs to see the niche specific content is important.

“Understanding your consumer also helps you understand what they need,” she said. Consumers spend a lot of time on social media, spending twice as long on social feeds than media Web sites. 

Publishers are looking at the money. Advertisers are the voice of the consumers. “We want to make sure we get the most efficient strategy to get to our consumer, at the best price,” Mungiria said. “Data helps us get the real facts and information that we can process, and the insights we get help us get to a strategy.”

The focus is no longer reaching a large mass of consumers at once, Mungiria explained, but understanding the audience in segments and what type of content they want to see. 

The power of ad tech

“It’s up to us to give them the confidence that we understand and value them,” Mungiria said of the power of ad tech for consumers. 

Performance analysis by reporting and tracking shows how well the strategy is working and whether anything needs to be changed: “Advertisers and brands are looking for what changes can they work with publishers, and get the reports, and we can track as we go.” 

Today, ad tech gives more power to consumers with ad blockers, understanding cookies and making preferences, the option to opt-in or out of content, and understanding how data is connected to advertising. 

Saracen has big ad spenders and gainers, partnering with Meta, Google, Instagram, and Amazon. “The biggest ad spenders, some of the clients that we handle, we have noticed a shift, especially to ad tech because it gives them multi-value,” Mungiria stated. “We partner with them to make sure we get to the consumer at the right time.”

What are advertisers looking for from publishers?

“We are looking for value, we are looking for the best prices for our advertising, but it is an opportunity for publishers to also get their own data,” Mungiria said.

Publishers can get data from advertising through several ways. “We are able to get segments on audiences that help us better understand and get to know our consumers,” Mungiria said. 

Larger publishers can build their own database with data from advertising and can benefit from the end of third-party cookies. 

“I’ve seen publishers complain about the tech partners they have,” Mungiria said, explaining how this data can also show publishers how to engage and see what kind of tech partners are needed moving forward and so they can work together. 

With these changes, publishers can have control over their own data. 

Preparing for the future of media

“The future of media is audience experiences. Consumers are constantly shifting their desires, they have specific preferences, they know exactly what they want, and are we getting them at the first reach,” Mungiria expressed. 

She proposed questions to publishers for the future: “What is the audience experience like? Are they able to navigate and explore your site and your platforms with ease? Do they feel welcome and want to stay? What are their needs and concerns, and are we meeting that?” 

Expanding formats are also an important part of preparing for the future of media. Some examples of this are podcasts, and how can audio be used as content and ways to reach the consumer.  

An omnichannel approach is important for publishers to understand moving into the future. This is moving beyond solely television reach, she said. This can be social media advertisements integrating with television advertisements. 

“What are doing beyond [television] to bring and make sure that we have a strategy that integrates and goes beyond just advertising? Mungiria explained.

Consumers value convenience, especially in the last two years with people at home more often. How can publishers strategically work with commerce and e-commerce brands to give convenience to its consumers, while also driving revenue?

Sustainability is also very important for the future. How can brands and publishers ensure sustainability for the planet, which is important to consumers. 

About Chandler Wieberg

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