Bra Willy Seyama | Omar Prestwich | Unsplash | Mobile-First Media Consumption | 7 February 2021

Are traditional agencies facing demise in the age of mobile Internet consumption?

Two major events took place in the past 2 weeks.

Here they are, in reverse order:


On Wednesday, the 3rd of February, Greyhound – the bus company that has been transporting people within South Africa, and cross border to and from neighbouring countries safely and reliably for the past 37 years – announced that it will be closing down on Valentine’s Day – February the 14th.

Reason for Greyhound’s closure?

According to this article, COVID-19 is to blame for the demise [or is the pandemic the final nail on the coffin?].


The latest Global Digital Report – the de facto authority on digital adoption and media consumption trends across the globe – was published on Wednesday, the 27th of January.

One key finding in the report is that we now spend more time accessing the Internet on our mobiles than watching television.

According to the latest report, people spend an average of 3 hrs and 24 minutes watching television daily; compared to 3 hrs and 39 minutes spent on mobile Internet.

Difference small difference of 15 minutes matter?

Most def. This is a sign of what’s to come in the media consumption arena.

What is common between the 2 events above?

ANSWER: The times they are changing. Fast.

Becoming a digital dinosaur can happen “overnight”; and no one is spared, including the giants of yester-years.

Is the global mobile Internet consumption trend applicable to South Africa?

The latest Digital Report for South Africa is coming out during February 2021, and I cannot wait.

However, the Digital 2020 Report already showed the following trends for Mzansi:

  1. There are more smartphones than desktops/laptops in the country, and this is no surprise.
  2. More specifically, South African netizens spent 4 hrs and 13 minutes on mobile Internet, compared to 3 hrs and 33 minutes watching television!

Therefore, South Africa is already ahead of the global trend 2021 when it comes to the mobile Internet consumption trend.

More on the mobile Internet consumption trend

First, the definition of a traditional agency:

A conventional ad agency plans branding, creative, and messaging for an ad campaign and then initiates a massive media buying campaign for TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, etc to push those ads out to the audience the brand wants to target.

Source: Quora

Print was the first victim of digital media consumption trends, and this saw established South African print media houses folding under the insurmountable pressure.

Television has been doing fine for some while, and this bought traditional agencies time.

However, the latest mobile Internet consumption trend should be worrying.


2 reasons.

1. Advertising follows consumers

We have long entered the era where the (online) consumer calls the shots.

As consumers increasingly spend more time on their mobile phones than watching television, advertising will be bound to follow them.

2. Mobile media consumption is a different cattle of fish

Mobile media consumption habits are vastly different to television media consumption habits, and this is an important point to bear in mind.

Traditional agencies that think the shift in media consumption is not a biggie, and that all they need to do is simply adapt their existing communication solutions to suit this mobile market, are in for a shock.

The solution for traditional agencies?

The tables have turned.

For effective communications, ALL agencies must learn to dance to the tune of consumers.

Adoption of digital marketing and communication practices is the answer.

I have been observing increasing adoption of digital marketing skills by traditional agencies over the years, but there has been ongoing struggle to change business models and embedded cultures.

If traditional agencies want to stay in business, it cannot be business as usual. Patchwork-type solutions will not work.

Investment in understanding the different digital media consumption habits is required, followed by adaptation of communication solutions that suit the targeted consumers.

There is no easy way out.

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