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The Road to Digital Excellence in SA is Paved with Insights, Data and Creativity

Razia Pillay


IAB South Africa

Razia Pillay

Razia Pillay

30 October . 3 min read . Opinion

(Credit: Owakhe Media, courtesy of Outdoor Auditors)

The last few years have been anything but predictable. How and where we work, the types of advertising that prevail, technological innovations and managing the complexities of state privacy legislation, amongst others, have challenged the old regime of doing business. As enablers of the digital growth of the media and marketing industries, the Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa (IAB South Africa), a non-profit, non-government trade group, readily embraces these changes to the evolving needs of consumers and audiences.

Since its inception, the mandate of IAB South Africa has been to empower the media and marketing industries to thrive in a digital economy. With the speed at which technology is evolving, and under the theme of Breaking Down Barriers for Business Impact, it is now more pertinent than ever for the organisation to take the time to reflect, re-evaluate, re-engage and reshape the future of digital. 

Aiming for digital excellence through empowerment

With a membership consisting of more than 150 leading media companies, brands, marketing agencies and technology firms, IAB South Africa fields critical research on the digital media and marketing landscape while also educating brands, agencies, publishers and the wider business community on the importance of digital innovation. As part of the IAB Global Network of 45 national IABs and three regional IABs, the organisation is able to provide insight into best practices, trends and more taking place in digital across the world.

In South Africa, the IAB’s connected culture and access to expertise through industry affiliations has enabled the organisation to drive projects that provide valuable, actionable and motivating insights to assist brands, publishers and agencies to make better digital — and therefore, better business — decisions. Central to this are the IAB South Africa Councils and Committees, which provide suitable representation on behalf of the industry, specifically on matters relating to industry changes and legislation. With the assistance of these Councils and Committees, the organisation also hosts various events and initiatives throughout the year, including monthly educational webinars as part of its ongoing Insights Series, giving youth Front Row seats to the industry through its Front Row Initiative, and the publishing of reports and white papers. The most prominent of these include the Online Internet Advertising Revenue Report, in partnership with PwC and also known as the Online AdSpend Report, the Digital Landscape Survey and, more recently, the Measurement Dashboard, a three-year partnership with dY/dX to provide a standardised measurement currency for publishers that can be used across the South African online industry..

The pre-eminent digital media and marketing showcase

The IAB South Africa’s flagship event is its annual Bookmark Awards (BMAs), now in its 15th year. The Bookmark Awards celebrates and rewards excellence in the digital media and marketing industry while promoting and encouraging creative digital work. The organisation further analyses the results of the awards programme to create realistic industry benchmarks for judging, which also assists the IAB South Africa team in helping the Loeries Awards Company in the selection of the latter’s jury panel for its Integrated Campaign category.

Each year, the Bookmarks have evolved to include the latest technological innovations as well as provide entrants and winners with opportunities to network and showcase their work to the industry. In 2023, the Awards introduced a secondary event, the Bookmark Awards Showcase, that represented a changing industry that highlights learning and engagement between established leaders and incoming young talent. The Showcase provided a view into the thinking behind the creativity, the actions and the business results over and above the awards ceremony, allowing a platform for participation. 

A bold frontier for marketing: OOH in digital

Long before digital, marketers brought their messages to the streets in the form of out-of-home (OOH) advertising (also commonly referred to as out-of-home media, outdoor advertising or outdoor media). Digital OOH (dOOH) combines the proven success of OOH with the revolutionary capabilities of digital technology, including digital signage, programmatic retail media networks and now generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). This has resulted in advanced targeting and measurement that were previously not possible with outdoor advertising. 

As an industry body at the forefront of digital evolution, IAB South Africa recognises the influence of online advertising practices in shaping the growth of dOOH and aligning it with the broader interactive/digital media and marketing industry. To assist decision-makers in comprehending the potential of dOOH, the organisation has dedicated episodes of its Insights Series to the topic as well as included dOOH in criteria for its Bookmark Awards categories, specifically its Channels category (for example, as part of entries for Digital Installation and Activations, and Interactive Mixed Media).

The future of dOOH is promising, especially in the African market, where the surge towards digital inventory is evident. According to IAB South Africa partner PwC’s insights from its Entertainment and Media Outlook Report (2019–2023), projections indicate a 33% increase in bookings compared to 2018. 

Through collaborative efforts and insightful resources, IAB South Africa aims to provide more avenues and insights into dOOH to further empower marketers and advertisers to make informed decisions.  

For insights on the latest digital media and marketing trends, news and analyses, or to become an IAB South Africa member, visit


Razia Pillay is the Chief Executive Officer of the IAB South Africa with more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing. Having begun her career at Arena Holdings during the height of the company’s digital transformation journey, where she rose to the position of digital brand manager, she moved on to head up native advertising and social media at Independent Media Group before co-founding the group’s Volt Digital, a simulation digital marketing internship programme that trains young people entering the workplace. Her passion for digital marketing and youth empowerment has also seen her serve as a lecturer and facilitator at Red & Yellow School of Business’s 2U Digital Marketing Unemployed Learnership Programme and on the IAB South Africa’s Transformation Council.