Kenya’s Standard Group realigns its strategy for growth

“While we were focusing on what we do best, other platforms came in and took the opportunities that we missed,” Francis Munywoki of The Standard Group, Kenya, told the audience at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa conference in Johannesburg during his keynote presentation Thursday afternoon.

by Brian Veseling | September 30, 2016

Munywoki, The Standard Group’s Managing Director of Print Business and Director of Innovation, said his company has refocused its strategy, in part to align itself with a stunning demographic: 70 percent of Kenyans are under 30 years old. Another major factor has been the rapid growth of mobile usage, which was up 91 percent from 2007 to 2015.

“Our strategy is to keep it simple,” Munywoki said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What should we be doing?’”

From that, Standard Group came up with three categories to focus on:

  • audience
  • content
  • monetization

In terms of audience, Munywoki said the key areas of concentration are platform (with an emphasis on mobile first) and social media. “If content is king, distribution is King Kong,” he said.

When it comes to content, he said, The Standard Group believes it must be targeted, based on the interests of users, and have a utility value.

‘If you’re not making money, it’s a hobby’ 

Addressing monetization, Munywoki said the group’s revenue sources are advertising, subscriptions and new products.

One of those new products is The Nairobian, a gossip tabloid that Standard Group operates with a staff of just 11, and that Munywoki said is the only newspaper in Kenya that is growing.

Another area for new products is gaming. “Gaming is beginning to give us very good revenues,” he said.

Regardless of the product, it must make money: “If you’re not making money, it’s a hobby, and we are not in the business of hobbies,” he said.

While Standard Group’s new strategy is paying off, Munywoki said, “We are not there yet.”

He noted a number of areas where his group (and indeed many others) are still looking for solutions. Among these are:

  • Global platforms and real-time bidding networks
  • Video monetization
  • Intrusive adverts, especially on mobile
  • Understanding customers – analytics

Munywoki also gave a presentation Thursday morning during a breakfast session sponsored by ppi Media on “The Cross-Channel Newsroom: Get Ready for the Future Challenges of Digital Publishing,” which drew a standing-room only crowd of approximately 100 participants.

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