JOHANNESBURG: Brands are increasingly looking to take greater control over their messaging by developing their own media space, leading industry figures have said.

"Brands and clients want their own spaces instead of going into newspapers or TV, which they currently need to reach audiences," said Chris Primos, managing director of MD Blast Brand Catalysts, a Johannesburg-based brand identity development specialist.

"The way technology is going, brands will be able to get their own media space at a lower cost," he told the Financial Mail.

Typically this has involved websites, blogs and the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, while bringing a new set of problems in the need to provide compelling content.

In addition, local brands find themselves having to compete on an international level while limited broadband access has so far restricted the potential of this area.

Jon Salters, managing director of Vision Critical Africa, a provider of customer insight technologies and services, had also noted the trend, explaining that his own firm had helped build "private communities" for leading brands such as Nando's, Hertz Car Rental, Ster Kinekor and AIG Insurance.

The advantage of these communities, which can have anywhere from 1,000 and 15,000 active members, was, said Salters, that brands could engage consumers directly, sharing news and information as well as carrying out market research and inviting collaboration on new product development.

"A community doesn't need enormous numbers," he added. "They need to be people who are engaged so we can segment them by store, region or spending value."

He also said it was easy to recruit people from a public space like Facebook into such a community.

Traditional media is not being abandoned, however, as Primos indicated that companies would continue to buy advertising and advertorial space there.

South Africa is simply adapting to worldwide trends, as paid, owned and earned media converge. Ekaterina Walter a leading digital marketer, recently explained to an ad:tech event in Melbourne that social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were now paid, owned and earned media all at the same time, so brands needed a similar convergence of "mindsets and departments".

Data sourced from Financial Mail; additional content by Warc staff