How Online Advertising Can Help Small Business Growth in Kenya

A good idea is as good as the number of people who know about the idea. That is the reason why advertising is one of the biggest industries in Kenya and the world. It’s estimated that Advertising spending in Kenya grew 33 percent last year to 65.4 billion shillings ($769 million), according to the annual report of Scangroup Ltd., East Africa’s biggest marketing company by sales.

From Radio Ads, Print Ads, or TV ads, every entrepreneur knows that they need to get their message “out there” if they are to make any impact in their sales revenues.

Advertising Costs for Small Business in Kenya

Most SME’s in Kenya confess that they don’t have a marketing budget. It’s not that they don’t want to have one; it’s just too expensive for them.

A typical 3 sentence ad in a local newspaper will cost about ksh.10,000. After paying this, you wait and pray that the calls you get are not from con men in Kamiti or job seekers.  The cost of a billboard ad is well out of the reach of any SME in Kenya

advertising in kenya

The cheapest magazine ad I could come up with is about ksh. 40,000 for a quarter page advertisement. Again, I would have to sit and pray that the magazine has the distribution that was promised by the salesperson.

TV ads do not feature anywhere in an SME’s budget. Radio Ads depend on the Radio DJ. Printing of brochures and the hiring of beautiful girls to give out material to consumers, who throw away the paper, seems to be the cheapest advertising model for most businesses in Kenya.

These channels have a place in marketing for any size business, but they are out of the reach of most businesses. They are too expensive and the return cannot be quantified. According to Jay Varia MD at TDF Advertising

“Medium-sized companies may not afford developing their advertisements locally large players can but other companies are finding it extremely difficult in getting their businesses noticed. But that does not mean they do not need to be visible or get noticed in the market place,”

Online Advertising as a Marketing Channel for Startups and SME’s in Kenya

Online advertising opens up new and cost effective channels for small businesses to advertise their products and services. It can take many different formats. It’s up to the business owner to understand how each online advertising channel works versus their company goals.

It’s worth noting though that an online marketing campaign is as effective as they company dealing with it.  As WordStream’s founder Larry Kim notes, in USA Today article:

“It’s all too common for small advertisers to waste money on poorly executed campaigns. Typically, they don’t re-evaluate and they miss out on the opportunity to leverage a powerful marketing channel to grow their business.”

Your Web Property

It would be foolhardy to engage in an online advertising campaign without considering your own web property. Whether it is your own website or you have a web space in a free platform such as blogspot or even KBO, it’s a great idea to direct your advertising campaign to a website you have control of.

Looking at the current advertised rates online for website creation, this seems to be a much cheaper option than a quarter page advert in a nondescript offline magazine.

Best advertising practices demand that the consumer takes an action with your product or service offering. You would want such action to take place in web property you own. For example a landing page on your website that has instructions on your offer and where you can take contacts from your potential buyer.

Search Engine Marketing ( SEM)

There are about 51 million websites created per year and about 634 million websites as at 2012. In other words, your 1 website needs all the help it can get to attract viewers.

This is where Search Engine Marketing and more importantly Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) becomes integral to your online advertising campaigns. Many a web owner has suffered silently as they spent thousands of shillings in creating a website but neglected implementing an SEO strategy.

SEO in simple terms is the process of getting your website found by the people who need your product or service. It is by far the most effective online advertising method, simply because you get qualified and targeted leads and is long lasting.

The problem: The challenge with SEO is that it can take time to implement and if done wrong can have long ranging repercussions to your business.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

One of the best and most profitable ways for small businesses to advertise online is through pay-per-click marketing (PPC), a branch of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Pay per Click (PPC) is simply where you the advertiser pays a publisher of a website every time someone comes from his website.

The idea is very simple. You identify person A as having many friends. You then come to an agreement with him that if he brings anyone to your shop, you will pay him ksh. 10.

Since this is online, how person A brings his friends to your website is through clicking on a link such as this. So every time someone clicks on the link you pay a certain amount. That is why its called PPC.

The biggest PPC company right now is Google. Through their Adwords program, your business adverts can be served on websites all over the internet. The current average rate seems to be about ksh. 20 to ksh. 80 per click.

There are other PPC companies that you can consider such as:

  • Google Adwords – adwords.google.com
  • MSN Adcenter – bingads.microsoft.com
  • Looksmart – looksmart.com/
  • 7Search – 7search.com
  • Facebook Ads – www.facebook.com/advertising/
  • Clicksor – Clicksor.com
  • Marchex – Marchex : Pay Per Click

Problem with PPC: You really have to work with a company that is an expert in PPC. Being an average PPC user can lead to spending too much on advertising with the returns being insignificant.  PPC expertise should not be taken for granted.

Online Media Buying Companies

If PPC is not your cup of tea, you can consider banner ads or online media buying companies.

These companies allow you to put your advert just like you would a billboard in their member’s websites. The advantage of this is that you can target to place your ads where you wish to and it is at times cheaper and you have more budgetary control than PPC ads.

Some media buy companies also do allow you to have PPC ads including the banner ads. Some of the best and biggest in the world include:

  • Casale Media
  • Valueclick
  • Tribal Fusion
  • Yahoo AdReady
  • Ask
  • Illyx

Mobile Advertising Companies

There are also companies that are specialized in serving your ads to mobile devices. Obviously the most advertised network in Kenya is inMobi. But there are more powerful platforms available worldwide. These include:

  • Admob
  • Jumptap – Jumptap | The Leader In Targeted Mobile Advertising
  • inMobi – InMobi | Global Mobile Ad Network
  • Adfonic – Adfonic
  • Mojiva – Mobile Advertising with Mojiva’s Mobile Ad Network

The Best Kenyan Online Advertising Options

Obviously you may be spoilt for choice if you wish to advertise online. However, the problem is that you may wish to market your product to a Kenyan centric consumer group, rather than world wide. So consider these options.

Have a website

Unfortunately, there is no escaping this requirement

Engage an SEO team

This is also mandatory for your success online. You can see what an SEO company can do by viewing the video below

Try Pay Per Click with Adwords and Facebook

In our trials, we have seen that Facebook ads work much better than Adwords in this region.

Engage a Kenyan Media Online Media Buy Company

This will allow you to market your products and services in Kenyan websites and blogs. The return on this can be higher than other forms of marketing and way cheaper. The Media buy company can handle all your PPC and banner adverts for you and will serve your ads to relevant websites Geographically.

Engage Specific Kenyan Bloggers Directly

A lot of Kenyan bloggers will be happy to get a little money for their blogging efforts. Paying for their advertising space directly on their website is a cheap and effective method for Kenyan small businesses.

There are bloggers who would be willing to review or sample your services in consideration of your advertising budget.

All in all, internet marketing is the one sure way where a small business can compete against the big boys. You no longer have to have a multi-million shilling online advertising budget to compete. All you have to do is have the passion and the expertise behind you.

ACIM Admin


1 Comment

  • Am an upcoming blogger and I need to sell advertising space on my blog. Right now my page views per month is more than 10000. Can you recommend for me to any company that is in need of ad space.

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