Latest technologies discussed at Casablanca’s African Digital Summit

More than 1,700 participants — a record high — and dozens of digital experts took part in the meeting.
Sunday 11/03/2018
Laura Sophie Dornheim, head of communications eyeo in Germany, speaks at the fourth African Digital Summit (ADS) in Casablanca.                                                                                         (Saad Guerraoui)
Hot topics. Laura Sophie Dornheim, head of communications eyeo in Germany, speaks at the fourth African Digital Summit (ADS) in Casablanca. (Saad Guerraoui)

CASABLANCA - Voice research, net neutrality, digital advertising, the future of marketing studies and television in the digital era were among topics discussed at the fourth African Digital Summit (ADS).

The 2-day meeting emphasised that voice research and the use of voice as a human-machine interface were among the most important inventions for the future of the search engine optimisation.

Amine Bentahar, chief operating officer and digital officer of Advantix Digital, said in a speech that “this is a channel that is growing in the United States, Europe and Asia, dominated by the four big players — Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Google Home (Google) and Cortana (Microsoft).”

During his talk on “Tech: Joint Venture for Big Companies and Start-ups,” Mamadou Doumbia, a serial entrepreneur from Cote d’Ivoire, stressed the links between big and small firms in the digital age.

“The idea today is to get big groups to look at small businesses, especially start-ups. Despite stiff competition in the markets, large companies can partner with small businesses to find solutions together for the benefit of consumers, through partnerships,” said Doumbia.

“We really need to go beyond incubators and accelerators and combine synergies to set up a new company in which the large company could provide the necessary means and the start-up would bring its agility.”

Laura Sophie Dornheim, head of communications eyeo in Germany, addressed the ecosystem dilemma of online advertising, which has inundated the internet in the last decade. She exposed the worst online advertising inventions such as pop-ups, clickbait and scam advertisements.

“Do not think about key performance indicators but think about how users will perceive your advertising,” Dornheim said, adding that 11% of internet users are blocking ads.

“Ad blocking helps you to protect you from all these ads to let you browse the internet in peace again,” she said. “Publishers are getting less money from ads. So they’re trying to think of how they can make more ads to make more users click. Of course, at some point, a lot of users say enough is enough and use Adblocker, which means revenues will go down for publishers,” she added.

The 2018 “Digital Trends Morocco” study, by the Moroccan Association of Advertisers (GAM) and Ipsos, revealed that digital advertising represented 8% of advertisers’ marketing budgets.

Digital marketing attracts a very small share of communication budgets even though 76% of Moroccan companies devoted their financial resources to it, the study said. In 2017, approximately $326,000 was allocated to digital marketing — 8% of budgets allocated to the communication of brands, which was no more than in 2016.

Imane Lmrabet, director-general of Data Attitude, said her company eyed all management, communication, marketing and purchases.

“We do digital campaigns for the advertisers and e-newsletters for niche markets,” said Lmrabet. “We are also in the process of launching an e-commerce website but there is always this frustration regarding e-customers who are still reluctant to make online payments and would rather prefer to pay on delivery.”

Moroccan telecom operator Inwi was the most successful company of the 2018 African Digital Summit, sweeping four awards in three different categories. Inwi won the “Gold Award” for its platform “Inwi e-League,” the first open competition for all gamers that helps structure and develop the gaming sector in Morocco.

It won the first and second prize in the category of “Best Integrated Digital Campaign” and the “Silver Award” for its “Inwi Days” campaign, in recognition for its commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and project leaders in all regions across Morocco.

Coach’in app, which allows people to get together for group sports, won the Bronze Award for “Best Mobile Application of the Year.”

The African Digital Summit is the largest annual gathering in Africa devoted to digital technology for advertisers, merchants, industry professionals, publishers, media and advertising agencies.

More than 1,700 participants — a record high — and dozens of digital experts took part in the meeting, which had 500 people in attendance in 2017.

Mounir Jazouli, president of GAM and ADS founder, said 18 African countries were among the 30 overall participating in the event.

“This is a good evolution for us and we’re proud, even if our goal is to very soon cover all the African countries. Our ambition is to be the number one annual meeting for digital actors in Africa,” said Jazouli during a news conference. He said the summit’s goal was to be Africa’s reference for digital technologies.