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All posts by Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes strategy conceptualization, focusing on the alignment of digital marketing to business strategy as well as assisting HKLM's clients on fulfilling their digital objectives. Jonathan is also the author of Internet Marketing for Entrepreneurs, a 50 000 word body of work which touched on the subtleties of digital marketing which are often overlooked.
  • Programmatic buying: the answer for small players who can’t afford big media fees?

    This is a bit of a refresher of an article I wrote around two years ago on real-time bidding (RTB). Admittedly that was centred around RTB and video ads; but RTB is a very large part of programmatic buying. So what on earth is programmatic buying? Programmatic buying is super useful for advertisers as it essentially automates all of the processes that used to nauseate them. With RTB, buyers can set parameters like bid price and network reach. A programmatic buy will layer these parameters with behavioural or audience data all within the same platform. At its core, this means that...

  • Ventureburn presents: the beginner’s guide to growth hacking

    The term growth hacking has been thrown around for a while now. Well, pretty much since 2010 when it was coined by Sean Ellis at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Despite having been around for five years now though, it seems that there is still a lot of confusion around exactly what a growth hacker is. Simply put, a growth hacker is an individual whose sole focus is around growth. Growth at all costs. Every action and every strategic or tactical decision is centred on growth. Growth hackers are not necessarily marketers; nor are they better than marketers (as I have...

  • 6 marketing hacks all entrepreneurs should have in their pockets

    Marketing -- and more to the point -- digital marketing budgets still frighten a lot of people. Especially entrepreneurs who are grappling with how to translate from their personal brand through to a business brand. Here are six digital marketing hacks that I find exceptionally useful when trying to understand where to focus my attention when planning digital marketing campaigns. 1. Blog – And Then Blog Some More Content has become the lifeblood of any marketing campaign! Without truly great content you can have the best SEO team in the world tweaking the structure of your site until the cows come home...

  • 7 red flags that should tell you it’s time to change agencies

    Marketing agencies have been having a tough time of late. Specifically the traditional agencies who are having to get to grips with new business models and new ways of delivering value to their clients. Digital marketing is arguably the biggest ongoing disruption to the marketing industry since the advent of; well; since the advent of something else that was particularly disrupting. If your marketing agency ever utters any of the following seven things; it might be time to drop it for one which is riding the digital disruption wave better than Filipe Toledo (arb surfing reference). 'We don’t use inbound marketing;...

  • Stellagy: using crowdfunding to bridge Africa’s educational gap

    Around the world, governments and businesses are facing an ever complicating conundrum: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with relevant critical skills. Many countries especially in the developing world still consider affordability to be the primary inhibitor to education. Improving the quality of education by making it more relevant to users, as well as finding creative means of addressing the affordability challenge, is highlighted as the primary keys to successfully addressing this challenge. Read more on Ventureburn.var vglnk={key:"cc324b6567a9637aa0ff15bc9564b2a5"};!function(e,a){var t=e.createElement(a);t.type="text/javascript",t.async=!0,t.src="//cdn.viglink.com/api/vglnk.js";var n=e.getElementsByTagName(a);n.parentNode.insertBefore(t,n)}(document,"script");

  • The QR code is dead, long live the QR code

    We have all heard the famous quote, or indeed misquote attributed to Mark Twain, “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!” Well if QR Codes could speak they would be pretty much feeling the same way at the moment. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, the humble QR code simply refuses to drift into obscurity. Granted, they are quirky by design and oft times difficult to register; they have been used in some seriously innovative ways! I wrote about a few examples of this innovation back in 2011 that highlights how Southern Koreans are exposed to QR codes...

  • Here’s why the addition of chat and video to Snapchat really matters

    Millennials of the world united in an outpouring of joy and excitement when Snapchat started rolling out its Chat and Video functionality earlier this month. Now, although video chat is nothing really new (Skype Video has been around for an age already) Chat is cool for other reasons. The reason why this is something special and worth noting is because of one very important fact. Snapchat is allowing video to be uploaded in real-time. Think of it as sharing your camera as opposed to uploading a video. Let me say that again -- it is more like sharing your camera...

  • Popcorn Time: what the ‘Netflix you always wanted’ taught us about ourselves

    I think it is pretty safe to say that we have all done it. We have succumbed to the peer pressure of the masses and we have buckled. We have tasted freedom and we liked it. We liked it so much that we want more; now; and forever! I am of course talking about torrenting movies and series -- either illegally; legally or vicariously through a friend-of-a-friend. But we have all done it and we are going to keep on doing it! I find it rather poetic that my PC wants to correct the word “torrented” to “tormented” as that...

  • Is IAB’s Rising Star ad format another nail in banner advertising’s coffin?

    There's been a lot of talk around the death march of the lowly banner ad, especially as click-through rates and user interaction continue to dwindle. With the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Rising Stars ad format becoming more and more popular; will it finally bring the traditional banner ad to a peaceful end? Right; so first let’s all make sure we are on the same page with what the IAB Rising Stars Ad format is. In essence you can think of it as a “mini website within a website”. That may be an over simplification of the format; but I think it...

  • Smartphones and emerging markets: where we’re headed in 2014

    There are few emerging market countries that are particularly mature in terms of their cellphone and smartphone usage and buying patterns (China, in particular stands out); but there is a large contingent of emerging markets who are not as mature in this regard. What are some of the factors that have held back smartphone adoption in these markets and further to that; what is being done to accelerate the adoption rates? In 2008; smartphone sales accounted for just nine percent of all phone sales in China. In 2012; that number skyrocketed to 59% of all phones being sold in China...

  • Walking the talk: do we really understand social business?

    I recently attended the Social Business Africa 2013 conference put together by communications agency Cerebra, social business platform WyseTalk and banking giant Nedbank. While I was sitting there being bombarded by knowledge from these social business professionals, a few thoughts struck me. To attempt to do justice to the content that was displayed at the conference in a single post would do exactly the opposite, so instead of giving you a lengthy play-by-play of the day I thought this article would be better spent by unpacking two of the key messages and trying to understand what they mean. Message 1: It...

  • Mobile messaging campaigns: why you need to look beyond the obvious

    Very often when we think about mobile; we confine ourselves to think about MMS, SMS and then, by extension, email. These are the traditional avenues of reaching a mobile consumer; but in reality there is an entire gambit of mobile messaging avenues that are baying for attention and focus. In part, I think a lot of people in marketing are incredibly scared of mobile for much the same reason they want to get closer to it. That is, because it is literally in the palm of their audience's hand. It is always on and it is so personal that...

  • Mobile paid search is seriously winning: here’s how

    As we use our tablets and mobile phones more and more in everyday life; advertisers have to follow us. To illustrate my point; over 2012, more than 80% of all search traffic originated on a mobile device. Mobile search was traditionally an area that most advertisers were unsure of and so as a result didn’t allocate much budget to it. That paradigm is a changing. According to a 2013 research report recently issued by IgnitionOne; US mobile paid search spend more than doubled year on year on both smart phones and tablets. When you compare this to the overall search...

  • Contextual advertising: the ins, outs and where it’s heading to next

    We have all been hit by contextual advertising. Whether we have acted on it or not is another question; but it has definitely impacted our social media networks as well as our general web browsing. The general idea behind contextual advertising is the placement of advertising that is contextually relevant to the content of the webpage that you are currently browsing. By way of example, let’s say that you are reading an article on a news website that has got to do with orphans starving in Africa. A contextually related advert would be for charities and orphanages looking for donations...

  • The web’s biggest scam artists are coining it: here’s how

    We have all seen the scummy and scammy internet marketing scams that aim to defraud pretty much anyone who is unlucky enough to fall for their link bait; but who are these fraudulent masterminds and how much money do they actually make? Well first let’s look at why it works. There are a few basic emotions that these scam artists play on. Laziness Inherently, people are lazy. People take shortcuts and would rather (in general) find the quickest easiest way of achieving a goal than to actually do the hard yards and earn it! These online scammers pray on that human...