THINC: Our plans for MIPAN - Femi Adelusi

Mr. Olufemi Adelusi is the new president of Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN). He is also the MD/CEO BrandEye Media Limited, a leading media specialist agency in the country. Elected president of MIPAN recently, Adelusi, an industry cerebral egghead, in an exclusive chat with ADNEWS, speaks of his team’s plans for the association, which, he encapsulated into an acronym - THINC. He also bares his mind on core industry issues. Excerpts:

ADNEWS:   Congratulations on your election as president of MIPAN. How do you feel being elected the 5th president of MIPAN?

President:  Thank you. It is a privilege that comes with great responsibilities. There are big shoes to be filled and expectations are high. These are unusual times with new challenges added to existing ones. We must find new ways of resolving the challenges we face and move ahead. I thank all our members for the opportunity to serve. 

ADNEWS:   As President, what are your plans for MIPAN?

President:  We, the EXCO, have summarized the task before us under the acronym or manifesto: THINC.

T – Technology, Data & Innovation: Step change audience measurement, scientific planning tools and leverage the power of consumer/media data

H - Human Capital development: Develop our associates in media, digital and the marketing communications industry through our academy (AMA and Education committee) and regular scheduled webinars and training program

I – Industry thought leadership: Actively contribute consistently to the development of a knowledge based economy that helps to shape policies, strategies and regulations in the marketing/communications industry in Nigeria/Africa. We must support our member Agencies to succeed and co-build a thriving marcoms industry for sustainable and growth oriented media/marketing ecosystem.

N – Nclusive and Collaboration (Inclusiveness): Break all barriers, both real and imagined, that limit the optimal self, drive gender equality and equal opportunity work environment. We must reach out to the digital agencies to join us in building a robust association

C – Commercial stability of the media ecosystem: We must support our member agencies to succeed and co-build a thriving marketing communications industry for sustainable and growth oriented media/marketing ecosystem.

ADNEWS:   What are the major challenges facing media independents’ practice in Nigeria?

President:  There are big and small issues unique to our industry and a few more general that affect the larger marketing communications industry.

a.     Migrating to a sustainable technology-enabled media audience measurement system, acceptable to majority of industry stakeholders, advertisers, media owners, content producers, practitioners etc. A solution with higher recency level and more accessible.

b.     TV Digitization of TV broadcast channels to drive better effectiveness and ROI.

c.     Regulation, privacy and other responsible advertising/media practices that enhances our practice, protect consumers and preserves our values as a people particularly on digital

d.     Remodeling our businesses in view of declining revenues and increasing operational cost of traditional structure, particularly in the context of today’s realities.

e.     People and capability development to accelerate learning, new learnings in view of today’s rapidly changing consumer and media proliferation.

f.      Raising the bar around professionalism, standards, accountability and uplifting our ethical standard

g.     Collaboration with other sectoral bodies and regulators to fosters a strong industry with a single-minded agenda that moves us all forward.

ADNEWS:   What should be done to overcome these challenges?

President:  There are quick wins and other challenges that require concerted industry/government collaboration. We must align on key priorities and Identify key milestones and move forward more quickly.

ADNEWS:   What is your assessment of media independents’ practice in Nigeria?

President:  We have made good progress over the past 20 years. The world is changing very rapidly and we need to respond to the various disruptions that are required to move forward. Technology, 5G, internet of things, machine learning, cloud computing, artificial intelligence etc. is disrupting our world and our practice must evolve to harness these opportunities.

ADNEWS:   Five years from now, where will media independents’ practice in Nigeria be?

President:  With the pace of technology, media fragmentation and consumer sophistication, it is increasingly difficult to predict the next one year. With the pace of technology innovation, digitization and the internet of things, it is impossible to see too far ahead, so much can happen so quickly. Our work place, work processes and tools would have completely transformed in 5yrs. Our media decisions making would be highly machine led and our understanding of consumers, cultural relevance and our creativity/art might be the only edge in getting ahead. Even folks like us must be retired or reborn because the industry would have completely evolved.

ADNEWS:   Why should clients use a media independent as opposed to using a media department in a traditional agency?

President:  Our value proposition is centered on:

a.     Science based and technology enabled media planning principles that drives better results and ROI. If you are a 1st tier, 2nd tier or 3rd tier advertiser and you are not working with an MI, somebody needs to ask you why. Seriously.

b.     Better rates and buying clouts because of our joint negotiation capability as an industry body. We are a strong force with influence and strong relationship with media owners and thus can be a very potent pressure group.

c.     High ethical practice because our members sign up to a code of business conduct and we hold ourselves accountable to those standards.

d.     Transparency of our processes from planning to buying and to performance measurement and monitoring of campaigns.

e.     Capacity building is critical for us, so we are at the forefront of unlearning the old ways, embrace new learnings, relearning.

f.      Digital is an integral part of what we do and we increasingly welcome digital/tech agencies etc. to join us and let’s build a stronger industry together.

ADNEWS:   Paucity of data in the marketing communications industry in the country, especially media data, has been an issue in the past.  What is the situation today?

President:  A few challenges exist, such as timely reporting, data panel size optimization, consistency of technology, time pressures, and effectiveness/ROI measurement particularly when planning for traditional media platform/channels.  Data is perhaps changing faster that we can collect and analyse them and there is pressure for prompt, fresh actionable insights. The Media Planning Services data have been available for close to two decades and have continued to improve despite the various challenges and we must commend the efforts and support the migration and expansion efforts. There is work being done on addressing the current questions around data sufficiency. This is one of the areas MPS, MIPAN and other bodies and individuals are working on to take this to the next level. Today’s world is fast paced and data redundancy and rate of change is super high. Mobile phone penetration and internet access and technology presents us with opportunities to address these challenges.

ADNEWS:   Media compliance was another thorn in the flesh for media planning and buying in the country in the past. Is it still a problem and what is the compliance level now?

President:  Compliance will always be a relevant topic because what gets measured gets done. There are independent monitoring agencies and there are exciting new technologies for more efficient buying/tracking. This is not so much a challenge as before as long as advertisers and agencies sign-up to track/monitor their campaigns, which they should.

ADNEWS:   One of the advantages of media independents in media buying is muscle but there is the allegation by clients that agencies do not disclose the rebates or discount/incentives they get from media thereby short-changing them.  What’s your take on this?

President:  There is need for better education and engagement on both sides of the aisle. Contracts need to be very clear in terms of full disclosure and transparency and consequences. Advertisers must engage professional agencies (not quacks), integrity and reputation must be highly weighted during pitches and agency selection. Clients must invest in media training/development of their marketing and procurement staff so that the right conversations take place in this area.

ADNEWS:   Digital advertising is spreading so much but with it are several issues.  One of such issues is ad blocking.  What is the situation here?

President:  We are currently reaching out and welcoming digital agencies as members of MIPAN and many of our members are stepping up the digital capability of their teams. There are conscious and unconscious ways in which ad blocking/avoidance happens and consumers will keep trying to avoid advertising. These is where our creativity and that of the creative agencies must come into play in creating quality contents and advertising that are more receptive and in the right moments, in the right context, the right occasions and in the right formats that ensure the assimilation of the communication message. We must also explore nontraditional advertising of telling the brand stories in programming, product placements, etc.

ADNEWS:   Hate content is another major challenge of the digital space. Currently, many global clients such as Unilever, P&G are threatening to pull ads out of Facebook and other digital ad platforms for these reasons. What is your take on this with regards to Nigeria?

President:  The access to media and challenges of everyday life has put a lot of pressure on people. Democratization of media, media plurality and freedom of speech as some of the rewards of modern day world. While censorship and stifling of media with regulation is not the solution, we must continue to speak and stand against hate, falsehood, fake news, misinformation etc. in all forms. We must become media activists but in pushing the right values and that enhance the wellbeing of products, people and society. We must continue to act responsibly and do things right. 

ADNEWS:   As an active practitioner in the marketing communications landscape, how would you rate Nigeria on issues such as programmatic and real time ad buying?

President:  We are making a lot of progress particularly on digital. There are new efforts in driving “programmatic” buying on non-digital platforms (TV) as well and even on out-of-home through moving audience technology etc. There are innovations & real progress in ‘programmatic buying” with real time audience measurement and location based marketing. There are huge consumer data now available for real time planning.

ADNEWS:   A recent report by Financial Times states that digital advertising is overtaking traditional advertising globally. What is the situation in Nigeria?

President:  This is another new normal and reflective of the world today. We have very youthful population of millennials and gen Z. Our internet penetration is rapidly growing and smart phone ownership has become democratized. Data costs is also reducing, though there is still a long way to go and we need to still accelerate broadband access, but these all make it inevitable for investment in digital advertising to grow faster than other channels. In Nigeria digital advertising spend has been rising steadily in double digit growth year-on-year over the past five years, revenue has also been growing. This is highly enabled by content moving digital as well. The market is experiencing growth in music/movie streaming, video gaming, eCommerce, even radio and TV broadcast is moving online, so that’s the reality of today.

ADNEWS:   Covid-19 has brought a lot of disruptions to the world and marketing communications is not an exception. What should practitioners do to cope with the challenges of what people now refer to as the “New Normal”?

President:  Adapt, pivot around all business operations, embrace technology in processes, embrace smart work space and work processes, innovation/creativity. Invest in tools, invest in technology and embrace the change. Understand the brand and the business challenges of our clients more and be a true business partner that helps the client to succeed.

ADNEWS:   For a very successful marketing communications industry, what should stakeholders do?

 President:      a.   APCON – Let’s start by having a Council in place. Engage more and co-create in the development of regulations, particularly digital.

       b.   Agencies – We have spoken about this.

     c.   Advertisers/clients – We need to rally together in development audience measurement protocol to drive efficiency and ROI.

      d.   Media owners – Evolve content that is driven by consumer insights and explore ways of managing operational costs.

Our agenda as MIPAN can be summarized in one line phrase as “PARTNERING FOR GROWTH (P4G)”. WE must work together and with others to transform and step change our practice and our industry.