Why Online is better than TVs for Kenyan Advertisers

The third quarter statistics for the financial year 2013/2014 covering the months of January to March 2014 for the telecommunication and broadcast sectors were released by CA (Communication Authority of Kenya) early this week. For the first time I paid close attention to the stats and found out interesting figures that I want us to look at.

Data and Internet services

The third item in CA’s report is data and Internet services. According to the report, there are 13.3 million Internet subscriptions in the country of which 13.2 million subscriptions are on mobile phones. The 13.3 million subscriptions allow 21.6 million Kenyans to access the Internet, accounting for 53.3% Internet penetration in Kenya.

On Internet share, CA writes:

The market share for each of the mobile operators as measured by data/internet subscriptions changed during the quarter under review. Safaricom Limited lost 1.5 percentage shares to record 72.1 per cent shares down from 73.6 per cent registered during the previous quarter. In the same way, Airtel Networks lost 1.2 percentage points to record 13.7 per cent from 14.9 per cent shares during the last quarter. There was however gain in shares by Telkom Kenya (Orange) of 3.4 percentage to record 10.3 per cent up from 6.9 per cent shares during the last quarter. Essar Telecom shares declined by 0.5 per cent to stand at 3.9 per cent from 4.6 per cent shares recorded in the previous quarter.

What is important to note in this part is that there are 21.6 million Kenyans who access Internet. The frequency of access has not been given. I would however bet that more than 13.2 million Kenyans are active online on a daily basis as this is the number of Internet subscriptions on mobile phones. It is also wise to assume that those Kenyans who access Internet on cyber or in the office also have access to the Internet via their mobile phones.


The fifth item reported by CA and of interest to this article is broadcasting. According to CA, only 654,500 Kenyans watch TVs per week. Let’s pause and give that number a thought.

By 2010, it was estimated that there were 2.6 million households in Kenya with a television set. Assuming an average of 5 people per household, then Kenyans with access to television are at least 13 million, including infants. Since those aged 9 and below form about 30% of the population according to Kenya Population Data Sheet 2011, then we would assume that 30% of the 13 million Kenyans with access to television are not targets for advertisers. That leaves advertisers with 9.1 million to target with ads on TV per week.

Still on broadcasting, CA reports that 4.4 million Kenyans listen to radios per week. This is against a potential of 35 million Kenyans, including infants, who have access to a radio.

Roughly speaking, only 7% of Kenyans with access to TVs actually watch their sets per week, and only 18% of Kenyans with access to radios actually listen to them per week. I wish they also provided the number of Kenyans who access Internet per week but if my assumptions are to be taken as true, then at least the 13.2 million Kenyans with mobile Internet do access the service per day but I will retain the same figure for a weekly statistics. This would mean that over 61% of Kenyans with Internet access are actively online per week.

The reasons most TV owners don’t watch TV are work and business. A number of Kenyans with TV sets spend their time at work or are busy running their business during the day and by the time they get back home, they are too tired to switch on the sets. Sadly, these are the same people advertisers want to target with the ads as they are the people with the money to spend on the advertised goods and services. Good news is that the same people who no longer have time to watch TVs have Internet in the offices or spend time with their phones browsing the Internet.

In summary, there are 12.6 million Kenyans available online who do not watch TV and at least 8.8 million Kenyans, also available online, who do not listen to radios on a given week. This therefore means that if you are one of Kenyan advertisers who only run ads on TVs and radios, then you are missing out on not less than 8.8 million people that you could have reached via the Internet.


1. Cost of ads

From the above statistics, Kenyan advertisers should know that TV ads, on a weekly basis, will only reach slightly over 650,000 Kenyans. Radio ads will reach 4.4 million Kenyans per week. On the other hand, Internet ads are able to reach more than 13 million Kenyans in the same period. Actually, up to 21 million Kenyans can be reached via online means per week if optimistically calculated.

Focusing on TVs, I ask, “How much will an advertiser spend to reach the TV audience?” According to information I got from a TV Station that I am not allowed to name, one second of non-prime time ad is sold for about shs 2,000 a second. Since most ads run for 30 seconds, I would safely assume that Kenyan advertisers spend at least Shs 60,000 for the ad to run only once per day. To reach a big portion of the 650,000 Kenyans who watch TVs per week, the advertiser will need to spend in all the 6 major TV stations that week. The budget to reach the weekly TV viewers therefore comes to a minimum of Shs 2.5 million.

What if the same amount was spent online? How many Kenyans will the advertiser reach? Facebook offers a good insight.

I have created a fake add for Shs 2.5 million ($28,000) to be spent at the rate of $4000 per day. Spending this much on Facebook assures me of an audience between 580,000 and 1.1 million Kenyans per day hence at least 4 million audience per week. This alone is six times better than placing an ad across all the six major TV stations combined!

The other way to look at it is to ask, “how much would I need to spend on Facebook alone to reach the same number of people as the average weekly TV viewers?” The answer is $15 dollars or Shs 1300  per day. That is only 0.36% the cost of placing an ad across the six major TV stations in standard time.

The other cost advertisers will save is the cost of producing an ad. Yes if you want to produce video ads for YouTube and related sites you may still need to incur the same production cost but most website oriented ads are the banner ads. My sources tell me that to produce a high quality ad advertisers spend not less than Shs 5 million per ad. However, a banner ad can cost you as less as Shs 5,000 or if you are charged remarkably high, then you’ll only spend about shs 50,000 for high class banners.

Before I go to item 2 that you need to know as a Kenyan advertiser, you should note that putting ads on Facebook alone gives you a pool of only 4 million Kenyans. Read Facebook statistics in Africa for some insight. To reach a wider audience, you need to place your online ads on multiple but related websites.

2. Targeted ads

To access the rest of Internet users in Kenya, you will need to spread your ads across most sites Kenyans you would like to target with your ads visit. The beauty of Internet is that, as opposed to TVs or radio in which you will have to use a lot of guesswork to reach your target audience, you can easily know the websites your audience do visit. For example if you are interested in running a tech related ad, you will be sure that your audience do visit Kachwanya.com and related blogsites.

To know the websites Kenyans visit, you can start by visiting Alexa.com websites ranking in Kenya to find the sites popular in Kenya. Alexa provides a brief explanation under each site on the category of the site. I would advise you to consider selecting sites run by Kenyans for your ads placement as more and more Kenyans read stories by Kenyans about Kenya. Placing your ads on Kenyan sites is also important for the growth of the local Internet industry (job creation) instead of giving the money to the multinationals like Google and Facebook. To have some faith on locally run sites, Kachwanya.com alone, that focuses on tech oriented audience only, has more than 60,000 weekly visitors. There are top Kenyan blogsites that focus on showbiz that have more than 400,000 weekly visitors.

After you have selected a number of websites you want your ads to run on, it will be a great idea to receive detailed statistics regarding daily/weekly/monthly/annual unique visitors to the sites and audience demographics so that you can judge whether your ad is actually suitable for that particular site and whether the site has the minimum audience you want to reach with your ad.

Once satisfied, you will discuss with the website admin how to go about placing your ad, for how long, and at what cost. Important to note is that your ad will be displayed on the website 24/7 for the entire period of ad placement as opposed to TV stations that would have played your ad for only 30 or so seconds at an exorbitant cost per second.

3. Monitoring ads performance

Another advantage you will have by placing your ads online, apart from reaching a bigger audience, carefully selecting your target audience by placing ads on particular sites, and saving over 99% of the cost per audience, you will be able to also monitor, or at least receive information on, your ads performance.

TV ads are a gamble – a gamble in that you are not able to tell the number of viewers who actually paid attention to your ad. Well, nowadays a few can know if their ads got attention and generated discussions on social media but that’s just it. Online ads on the other hand provides real time feedback on audience interaction with the ads, and in this way, the advertiser can closely monitor how the ads are performing.

4. Where to place your ads

Now you have seen the justifications to shun TVs and probably radios as a Kenyan advertiser but instead place your ads online. By where to place your ads, what I mean is which websites?

I have already suggested that you visit Alexa.com to see the top sites in Kenya. As you consider to do that, I would want to give guidelines as follows:

  • Run your ads on social media, or rather, arrange so that your ads are not just placed on a website, but are also discussed on social media.
  • This brings me to the second point, place your ads on active blogsites and by active blogsites I mean those blogsites with daily posts/articles and whose owners are active on social media. The bloggers will be able to run your banner ads on their blogsites and also engage their social media followers to discuss about your products/services.
  • If you have to place your ad on a standard website, then place them on news outlet websites that are actually similar to blogsites in several ways.

These points will do for now. If you may need any guidance on how to go about online ads placement, you may contact Kachwanya.com via the contact link above.

NOTE: This article had been updated with latest statistics on number of visitors per week to Kachwanya.com as has been forwarded to me by Kachwanya.


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password