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‘Elevated mindset critical to digital advertising’

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Ikechi Odibo


President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Ikechi Odibo, has urged advertising practitioners to understand and embrace digital reality, continuously broaden perspectives and take creative responsibility without waiting for marching orders from clients to cope with the demands of post-digital age.

Odibo made the charge in a paper he presented on ‘Advertising in the Post Digital Age: The Profession, the Business and Nigeria’s Socio-economic Development’ in Abuja at the National Advertising Conference organised by Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) in conjunction with other sectorial bodies. He said practitioners needed to acquire new business mindsets and approaches, which are crucial to the business in a rapidly evolving business landscape, noting that in a fast-changing business environment, clients are seeking partners who are up-to-the-moment and ahead in terms of proffering understanding, thought leadership and fresh solutions to their marketing problems.

He noted that the second seismic shift is that in the analogue age, “products offered one primary utility. Radio was good for listening. Billboards were powerful print banners. TV was good for viewing. Products generally did one thing well within limited geographies of influence. Today LED billboards play gif videos. TV’s can also be used to play games and make presentations.

“So, our world is experiencing a shift from broadcast media to the interactive platforms and applications on the internet and also gradually to the internet, where devices and products share data and collaborate to deliver multiple integrated functions and utility. Brands are also able to share and have communion with real people, not an archetype over passion points and trending issues. Our target audiences, market segments have transformed into real individuals, real people with a strong voice and creative verve to contribute online.”

In her opening remarks, President of APCON, Mrs. Ijedi Iyoha, stressed that the advertising profession has been and continues to be a key contributor to Nigeria’s economic system, as it brings positive balance and helpful social effects in every dealings of human relationship and as a nation with other nations. 

According to her, “The industry is undergoing a fair share of its own challenges which, we hope through this conference, can address and consequently chart a healthier and harmonious course for the improvement of the profession and for the progress of our nation.“The industry commands a great deal of influence in information dissemination, education, technology, commerce, politics, religion, sports, social investment programmes and so on. This conference does not seek to exhaustively conclude on our ideas, thoughts or reflections but to open the door for continued conversation on the improvement of advertising in Nigeria. We must work diligently to build upon the achievements made from this event in an improved style annually.”
 
Iyoha pointed out that the paradigm in advertising business has been fully established in digital space with new niches being carved to distinguish ideas and introduce different concepts, adding, “We have to keep up with the pace or even deliberately work to determine the pace because the society needs the advertising industry to educate it, to maintain the balance, to drive the market and to ensure fair competition. Advertising has what it takes to achieve it and that can never be underestimated.”
 
She further noted that the advertising profession is an essential bridge, which requires no dichotomy between the public sector and the private sector to exist. She said, “As good advertising and promote good causes so does bad advertising and quackery in advertising practice bring disrepute and loathsomeness to business and society. It should be our common goal in both the public and the private sectors to avoid actions and patronages capable of causing damage, hatred, apathy and sabotage of good causes of government or private organisations or individuals.”

Further, Odigbo pointed out that the primary takeout from the shift is that advertising has also shifted from selling monoluges to storytelling, triggering real conversations with the brand community.According to him, “Brands are having to shift from growing market share to nurturing brand communities. This is a sort of marriage that is helping enhance loyalty to their offerings by paying attention to people’s passion points. The close communion also creates greater scrutiny and vulnerability as negative comments from members of the brand community can harm the brand in a viral way that word of mouth cannot.

“We congratulate ourselves a lot for adapting things that have been done before, making minimal changes and feeling like we understand the modern world. However, we cannot force-fit old templates to new expectations, new objectives and expect to be regarded as relevant, strategic and indispensable by the clients.”

The digital age, according to him, brings with it a democratic sharing economy, adding, “We must explore ways of sharing virtual talent for economy, sharing resources and assets through mergers and collaborative ventures. At the institutional level, we must also share the challenge of nurturing world-class talent by all sectorial groups coming together to establish a credible and reputable advertising school. I know some of the associations have already jumpstarted their schools, but I believe there is room for synergies and efficiencies. As noted yesterday, we must meet more frequently to pool together on common priorities such as capacity development.”

The AAAN president noted that the evolution has been marked by the emergence of e-commerce, with television advertising transferred to digital platforms such as Youtube, Instagram advertising taking the place of print advertising and with celebrity endorsements mutating into influencer marketing.

This process, he said, is still treated by practitioners as requiring just a few changes when wholesale changes are required. He advised practitioners to embrace new tools, which are multi-functional and not limited by geography.“In the digital age, devices do a lot of things well and also work together across physical geographies, thanks to telecommunications and the internet,” he stated. “Consumers now move seamlessly between devices, with data providing borderless interconnectedness and continuity. We can seamlessly engage our favourite Apps, social platforms and skits across various devices, anywhere and anytime.”

On account of these, he stated, the lines are blurring, with devices becoming more similar and convenient, with newspapers being read on miniaturized devices such as phones.“Our newspapers are read on our phones,” he noted. “What kind of creative mindset and approach is required to harness these enhancements? Are we migrating our creatives from copy to content?”

He also noted that there is a shift from broadcast media to interactive platforms and applications on the internet where devices and products share data and collaborate to deliver multiple integrated functions and utility.He also noted, “Brands are also able share and have communion with real people not an archetype over passion points and trending issues. Our target audiences, market segments have transformed into real individuals, real people with a strong voice and creative verve to contribute online. The primary takeout from this shift is that our advertising has to also shift from selling monologues to storytelling to triggering real conversations with the brand community.”

Conclusively, he noted that the digital age would come and go but that three things would remain and would continue to create value and relevance for all time.“They are craft, creativity and innovation,” he pointed out. “So, it’s time to walk the talk. We need to stop talking about innovation and start embedding it in how we think, how we work, how we manage our processes and projects; how we resource our businesses; how we engage opportunities and clients’ problems. Let’s make innovation culture.”


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AAANIkechi Odibo
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