Narratiive Publisher Profile – February 2016

Marc du Plessis, Commercial Director at Spark Media

Spark Media is a fusion of Habari Media and NAB,
a division of Caxton Publishers.



Tell us briefly about yourself and the digital media property you represent. 

A key focus area of mine, within the greater group, is Digital Retail advertising and all things location based.  Secondary to that is working closely with group publishing companies in the transition from print only businesses to print and digital businesses.  One of our flagship opportunities is our Local News Network  (  We have rolled out over 75 local websites catering for the communities of South Africa, (for example: and our unique offering is that we have the reach of a large news publisher (1,5m uB’s), but can also offer hyperlocal, community based digital campaigns targeting anywhere from Mossel Bay to Middelburg.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge for digital media in South Africa? Content, advertising contextual relevance etc. 

We still have an understanding of the channels and mediums issue.  Second to this is the balancing act of brands finding the right balance between performance and premium solutions.  Finally, a major issue to overcome is, that obsession with measurability stunts logical decision making and damages the marketer’s confidence to allocate a fair level of budget to digital solutions.

What is your media property doing to deal with and combat these above challenges? 

We try very hard to offer education and insight into the potential of digital advertising, and have done many digital 101 presentations to an array of businesses

We’re investing in audience data tools and technology to help advertisers understand the value of brand exposure alongside engagement metrics

We guide and support marketers who are learning digital on the job and   we try our best to avoid flannel, jargon and digital speak that often knocks the confidence of a marketer.  Often, decision makers will not put up their hand and say “I don’t understand” for fear of losing credibility in their role.

If you had to pick one do you see your property as being: (A). a value for money – great reach; (B). niche but extremely relevant; or (C). contextualised for the user?
I would say all 3 but most certainly C.  We write local unique content for local people living within the communities of South Africa.  This gives us great reach and great engagement, area by area.  While ensuring we cover International & National content, our local news in Nelspruit is written by locals for locals.  The same goes for every area we cover.

What is going to be your focus for the next 12 months to ensure you are able to offer advertisers A,B or C?

Our focus is on improving our local content even more, pushing our journalists to produce more and more video. Also, investing and rolling out audience data tech and ad tech to make sure we’re on the Programmatic train.

What is your greatest concern when it comes to the digital industry in South Africa? 

We have a resource issue in South Africa.  Basic economics tells you that when supply is low and demand is high, the price goes up.  There are few highly skilled digital resources across all disciplines, from digital strategy to digital sales.  Marketers and Publishers are battling to advance quickly because of this issue.

What do you believe is done to address this concern? 

At Spark Media, we’ve taken the bull by the horns and have started to invest heavily by launching a Digital Media Sales Academy.  We’re training young interns in partnership with Red & Yellow so that we can produce quality Digital Sales people for both our group of companies and the industry as a whole.  The first group of interns graduate at the end of May and our second intake starts on 1st March, so please send us some great CV’s!

What are your plans in the next 12 months to “Make Digital Awesome”? 

We will continue to educate our clients, educate our people and make sure we’re at the leading edge of all digital advancements.

Evangelising the value that digital brings when used in conjunction with traditional media

Support and contribute to the IAB to advance digital in South Africa and grow advertiser spend.

View Spark Media Sales Presentation