Sub-Saharan Africa is a mobile market on the verge, and Opera Mediaworks is looking to take advantage.
The global mobile ad platform acquired South African mobile ad network AdVine in an effort to expand its footprint into Africa, a region now home to more than 600 million mobile phone subscriptions. Ericsson predicts that number will push past 930 million by the end of 2019.
These opportunities aren't without attendant challenges, however, including distinct customer behavior.
“Most people in Africa reach the Internet via a mobile phone, compared to most people in the US who reach the Internet via a desktop/laptop computer,” said Opera Mediaworks CEO Mahi de Silva, who declined to disclose the AdVine deal price. “Many consumers in Africa still use feature phones while a majority of users in the US use smartphones.”
Although sub-Saharan Africa is seeing tremendous growth in mobile phone adoption, less than 50% of the population uses mobile data services, de Silva said.
That’s part of the reason why carrier relationships are so important in the region.
“[Carriers] help get more consumers onto the Internet and to expose them to the power and potential of the web,” said de Silva, who noted that although Opera Mediaworks doesn’t rely on African carriers to get its targeting data, the company is more than open to “helping these carriers participate in the mobile advertising economy” down the line.
Opera Mediaworks maintains relationships with more than 40 mobile network operators in Africa, among them Vodacom, MTN, Airtel and Orange subsidiaries.
“[We’re] helping deliver attractive price points for mobile data usage, including advertising sponsored mobile data to consumers in the region,” de Silva said.
Opera Mediaworks and AdVine, whose publisher partners include the BBC and Shazam, had already been working together as partners since 2012 to monetize Opera’s mobile ad inventory. The acquisition solidifies that relationship and will enable Opera to better tap into local markets in Africa, said de Silva, who called the AdVine purchase “complementary” to other recent Opera Mediaworks acquisitions like mobile video ad network AdColony.
“The [AdVine] acquisition ... enables the team to deliver the entire portfolio of mobile advertising services, from banner ads to video ads from DSP and SSP services to customers in the region,” he said.
The acquisition also fits squarely into Opera’s overall mobile strategy, de Silva told AdExchanger.
“At Opera, we’re very passionate about extending the power of the Internet to all people around the world,” he said. “With our browser and traffic management products we strive to deliver the best web experience to users in Africa and we work with local operators to make the Internet more accessible to everyone.”
The AdVine brand will be subsumed into Opera Mediaworks over time. All 20 AdVine employees are expected to stay on following the acquisition.