I’ve been at Mail & Guardian for a long time now, five years and counting, flying the online flag. Am blogging from our 2007 strategy conference just outside Pretoria and the change in strategic direction and thinking is significant. It started about three years ago and has built up to a crescendo here and now. From being a cinderella medium, online is becoming the central strategy for the company and is now starting to feed into all divisions at M&G, initiating cross-selling and convergence initiatives. Everyone wants a piece of it and wants to be involved, which is great.

This is why: although internet penetration may only be around 10% in SA, for our audience (the upper LSMs) internet penetration is near 90%. And let’s not forget the mobile opportunity which boasts way higher penetration. And in any case, with pressure on our telco prices (among the highest in the world), broadband picking up, the internet penetration is going to grow. Our CEO Trevor Ncube said that we had turned him into someone more passionate about online than the M&G Online people themselves. Trevor’s a great fan of our newsflash and podcast, which he listened to recently while on a business trip in Ukraine of all places.

It’s nothing unique to M&G. This kind of buy-in should be happening in all sectors of business, from advertising agencies to car companies, where there should be the realisation that online media will eventually be the key driver. It was Bill Gates who said at an IAB conference in UK two years ago that: “The future of advertising is the internet”. His words, not mine.

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