Kenyan Browsing Habits, 'This is Nigeria' & Mobile Ads


That's hello in Igbo.

After a relatively long gap, here's the second newsletter in the space of a week! We hope you don't mind, but there are plenty of fascinating projects, insights and updates we couldn't wait to tell you about.

We'll be trying new formats over the coming weeks but here's to starting off the newsletter with some consistency these next few weeks.

I'm gearing up for some travel and have been firming up plans to the US East Coast (Boston-DC-New York) and Los Angeles. Shoutout again if I'm in your city and there's a session that's public (none as of now). I'll be doing sessions at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Centre with a few other places lined up.

One of the more exciting but gruelling challenges we had was some focus groups we held two weeks ago. We needed to recruit 30 people from over 30,000 likes across three Facebook pages. How did we do it? With targeted Facebook ads plus a chatbot with a complex flow of seven questions to screen participants. The team will be preparing a case study on this in future as we learnt a lot from it.

Social Media Week: Nairobi is coming up and Nendo's a partner with some of the team set to be added to the team of speakers. As I said last week, I'll be a judge as well.

That said, let's get to what you came for: the tasting menu of links.

What to Sip < 30 second read

  1. Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behaviour on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.
  2. Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.
  3. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

When you look across the continent to discover how powerful visual media is, you learn that it is a key way to fight stereotypes and power the way Africans view themselves and the way the world views them.

This view into what powers the Instagram algorithm-driven feed ought to impact your plans to be seen and understand what you’re seeing.

What to Nibble <5 minute read

This is America - Donald Glover’s gripping song and statement on the U.S. took the internet by surprise and storm. In true meme culture, it has spawned all sorts of remakes (ranging from bizarre to bold tributes). None has caught my attention more than This is Nigeria (I forgot to put it in last week’s newsletter). Lots of hidden cues and, like the original, it definitely needs to be rewatched to catch them all.

In other Nigerian news, their three million World Cup jerseys sold out in minutes, with lines going around blocks around the world. Nobody can stop 9ja!

A quick plug to which I put alongside as among the only two home-grown websites appearing in the top 10 most visited sites in Nigeria and Tanzania respectively. Each plays a part in setting the agenda and what both have in common is that they are message boards.

Africa doesn’t have its own (the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet”) but at least in Nigeria and Tanzania I remain glad to see that each country can make its own contribution. Cyber cafes and the first page in the morning outside of WhatsApp tend to go to those sites in both countries. The stickiness and desire to contribute means they have their own social networking sites, if you’d consider a message board as such.

RIP to, which was Kenya’s equivalent.

What to Bite (<20 minute read)

Mary Meeker. If you’ve never heard her name before, she’s one of the most influential media savants and venture capitalists in the US. Her annual report sets the table for the year to follow and captures the context of the previous year. Recode has the best outline of her presentation. This is a long read but an important one.

What struck me from this chart was the opportunity in mobile, both overseas and locally. Given the increasing amount of time set to be spent there, there’s still room to see it grow. I’d be curious to see how Kenya fares on this. Print, followed by Radio (fragmented as it may be) and Television is my guess for the top three.

Peculiar Kenyan (Internet) Habits

I was in Uganda two weeks ago addressing parliamentarians from all over the continent and letting them in on how to navigate the next 2-3 years of digital in Africa. As part of that, I looked into the “data diets” of their digital citizens. This covered Angola, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire and Kenya.

Of all those, no top 10 most visited website list looked like Kenya’s. That’s because Kenya’s is dominated by two categories: betting sites (sometimes euphemistically called gaming sites) and adult entertainment sites.

This has long puzzled me and it was intriguing to see that among the top 10 Google Searches of May 2018 pornography features prominently. I see it as a big opportunity: helping the current generation battle addictions such as pornography, gambling and the internet as a whole.

I haven’t wrapped my mind around it but I once put together a concept note for a psychologist, health expert and myself to do a panel on this. It has been a while and things have been busy but it continues to be on my mind. If you’d ever be keen to help with that, just reply to this email and we’ll see if the team can work on this with your help.

Let's find a way we can put the internet to use for good.

Quick correction that newsletter subscriber Abdi published on Quartz, Twitter’s not ready with its Swahili language option yet so we will have to wait.

A big thank-you to Rossouw Nel who a few weeks ago visited us, as well as iHub, and shared the insights he got on the Kenyan technology space.

A book, 3 pods and a movie.

I hope you take the time to be measured in your social media use and maximise your creative output. A book I can't recommend enough is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — there's no other book I've recommended more over the past five years.

If you don't already have enough to click and consume, I'll leave you with some audio that's caught my attention recently. A trio of recent podcasts that I found really inspiring and involving were New Yorker columnist and surgeon Atul Gawande's TED Talk on how you improve through coaching, Andile & Musa at the African Tech Roundup interviewed Feyi Olubodun on his new book The Villager: How Africans Consume Brands, and Michael Hyatt's Self Care as a Leadership Discipline. Hope one of them moves the needle for you.

Lastly, if you're in Nairobi, there's also a film showing in June that I offered to plug. I won't be around for the screening but as a fan of local cinema, I can't help but share. Tufilamu Picture presents 1988, a visceral portrayal of the infamous Nyayo torture chambers. Catch it at the Anga Sky IMAX Theatres in Parklands on the evening of the 16th of June.

Here's to the month ahead.

Mark & Team Nendo.

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