Tell us briefly about yourself and the digital media property you represent.
My name is Ryan Sessel and I am the CEO of Velocity Media. I am a chartered accountant by qualification but a globetrotting adventurer by nature. Post-qualification, I went gallivanting around the world on a life-defining trip that lead me to my true calling - digital marketing.
For the six years prior to my acquisition of Velocity Media, I lived on three continents (including a stint in southeast Asia and two years in Rio de Janeiro), where I found myself working in the online travel distribution space, predominantly dedicated to large-scale sporting events.
From here, I realised the value of creating niche, localised content, and the possibilities of associating the correct brands with material that is relevant and useful to an audience. I returned to South Africa in 2014 with the ambition of utilising the lessons that the world had taught me in order to create something of substance in my beloved home country, and with that, bought Velocity Media in early 2015, with the ambitions of building localised social and lifestyle portals that could provide users with useful and relevant content.
Velocity Media is a digital content and database marketing agency that specialises in the curation of localised content, portal development, and database marketing. Our brands include Joburg.co.za (a Johannesburg-based B2C portal focusing on social, travel, lifestyle, and retail), Joburg's Darling (a female-related blog focusing on Johannesburg), and Cape Town's Darling (a female-related blog focusing on Cape Town).
We offer our clients an array of advertising options through our mailers, as well as through native content and display advertising on our various digital platforms. In addition to this, we offer our clients email marketing strategy services and create brand affinity by associating their brands with useful, relevant, and personalised content.
Joburg.co.za has become a well-trusted and loved brand, and has developed a loyal database (200,00+ subscribers) who eagerly await our weekly newsletter, Joburg Weekly Guide, as well as our informative promo mailers.We have developed a deep understanding as to what our audience wants and are very selective of the type of material that we send them - this is the reason for our high user engagement. "The Joburg Weekly Guide" arrives in our readers' inboxes first thing on a Wednesday morning, and covers everything from amazing events, must-try restaurants, fantastic getaway options, new store openings, competitions, technological innovations, tips for moms, and so much more.
Our technology is disruptive and we are integrating a multitude of major international platforms into the portal in order to make "The Joburg.co.za Portal" the destination of choice for both local and international visitors, who are not only looking for information relating to the various social elements of the city, but also for the necessary functionality that needs to accompany it. Joburg.co.za and the techology powering the portal is a prototype for a much bigger project... so fear not if you don't live in Jozi, as there are some exciting developments coming to your city soon.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for digital media in South Africa? Content, advertising contextual relevance etc.
I think that there is still a lack of understanding among a lot of brand owners, both large businesses and SMEs, about the value and the diverse marketing options that digital can truly bring to their businesses. I do, however, think that it is only a matter of time, as the market is evolving and becoming more tech-savvy and digital-oriented.
If you had to pick one, do you see your property as being:
A. a value for money - great reach,
B. niche but extremely relevant, or
C. contextualised for the user?
All of the above. We believe in localisation and cover an array of niches within that localised context. The heart and soul of our undertaking is providing what is relevant and useful to the correct user, and by doing so, provide the necessary ROI to our advertising, based on marrying the right brand with the right material.
What is going to be your focus for the next 12 months to ensure you are able to offer advertisers A,B or C?
- Diversification of our content in order to grow our reach, and
- Gamification in order to increase user engagement with our content and with the brands listed on our platform.
What is your greatest concern when it comes to the digital industry in South Africa?
Lack of internet penetration and high data costs. There are, however, some amazing initiatives in the marketplace trying to rectify this, so hopefully it will only be a short term concern.
What are your plans in the next 12 months to “Make Digital Awesome”?
Digital is already awesome. We do, however, have plans, over and beyond growing our current platforms, to start curating collaborative B2B mailers dedicated to educating the SMEs and brands listed on our platforms on the possibilities that digital brings with it. We are partnering up with a range of experts/influencers from various fields to assist us in curating the content, in order to showcase the unlimited potential of the different areas that make up digital marketing.