The challenges of hyper focusing on digital metrics in South African advertising

In the fast-accelerating world of digital marketing, South African creative and advertising agencies are increasingly falling into the trap of hyper focusing on data and analytics. While these metrics undoubtedly provide valuable insights into consumer behaviour, they risk overshadowing the essence of advertising: the human connection. As agencies we tend to obsess over metrics, and run the risk of compromising the emotional bond between brands and their audience.

Consumers are not mere data points; they are individuals seeking meaningful connections. In the pursuit of maximising clicks and engagement, agencies often overlook the emotional resonance that drives consumer loyalty. A catchy tagline or a well-designed banner might capture attention momentarily, but it is the ability to evoke emotions and forge authentic connections that truly resonates with audiences.

In the quest for quantifiable results, we must not forget the qualitative aspect of advertising – the art of storytelling.

South Africa, with its rich cultural tapestry and diverse demographics, offers a wealth of narratives waiting to be told. Yet, amidst the obsession with metrics, these stories risk being drowned out by the noise of algorithms and analytics.

Furthermore, the hyperfocus on digital screens neglects the reality of South Africa’s digital divide. While urban centres may boast high internet penetration rates, vast swathes of the population, particularly in rural areas, are left disconnected. By fixating solely on digital channels, agencies inadvertently exclude a significant portion of the market, further widening the gap between brands and potential consumers.

Moreover, the emphasis on data-driven decision-making can stifle creativity and innovation. Advertising is as much an art as it is a science, and by relegating creativity to the sidelines in favour of rigid metrics, agencies risk producing cookie-cutter campaigns devoid of originality. In a landscape saturated with advertisements vying for attention, it is creativity that cuts through the clutter and leaves a lasting impression on consumers.

To truly resonate with audiences, brands must go beyond superficial engagement metrics and focus on building genuine connections. This requires a holistic approach that balances data-driven insights with human-centric storytelling. By tapping into the emotions, values, and aspirations of their target audience, brands can create campaigns that not only drive clicks but also foster long-term loyalty and advocacy.

South African advertising agencies have a unique opportunity to lead the way in redefining the digital landscape by prioritising the human connection. Instead of chasing fleeting metrics, they must strive to create campaigns that touch hearts, provoke thought, and inspire action. Only then can they truly harness the power of advertising to make a meaningful impact on both brands and consumers alike.

In the words of Orlando Wood, LOOK UP!

Contributed by The AMF Board

About the AMF

The Advertising Media Forum (AMF) is a collective of media agencies and individuals including media strategists, planners, buyers and consultants through whom 95% of all media expenditure in South Africa is bought. The AMF advises and represents relevant organisations and aims to create open channels of communication and encourage and support transparent policies, strategies and transactions within the industry.

For more information on the AMF, visit,za.

For comment on the industry issue covered in this editorial, please contact:

Koo Govender
AMF Chairperson
Cell: 083 272 0063
Email: [email protected]


Karen Phelan
Board Member
Cell: 082 901 9467
Email: ten.asmoklet@nalehpk