20 June 2010

Nigeria: AAAN, APCON, Top AD Agencies Lack Serviceable Websites

Lagos — The saying that charity begins at home has played itself out in the advertising industry as the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and a couple of frontline ad agencies in the country do not have functional websites, Daily Independent can authoritatively reveal.

As at the last check, the official website of AAAN, www.aaanonline.com, was last updated in July 2008, however, the website was designed in 2007. It was the same situation with top advertising agencies that enjoy robust foreign affiliation. And some of the top ad agencies that lack functional website and yet to tap into the new phenomenon are Insight Grey, DDB Lagos, SO&U Saatchi & Saatchi, Bates Cosse and CentreSpread FCB, among numerous others.

Apart from unregistered ad agencies in the country, the AAAN certified members as at the last count was 99.

However, it has been become a plague of sorts to see that a multi-billion naira industry lacks a viable communications tool like a website and most of these agencies have foreign affiliation with their partners abroad deploying the tool.

One of the AAAN guides on deciding the type of agency an organisation should hire is that "agencies are unusual collections of bright lateral-thinking people supported by technology," but has the Nigerian advertising agencies lived up to its billings on this promise?

Perhaps, as well displayed on the AAAN site, which has taken the body over two years to update is that what all growing 'braaands' have in common is poor, dysfunctional and inaccessible web base.

On the AAAN site, Lulu Akinwunmi, for the first timer to the site is the president of AAAN. Less than 60 agencies are listed on the site and 2008 AAAN Business Retreat is the latest news highlighted on the site.

Akinwunmi left the office since 2009 but his name and activities are still on the website while that of the incumbent, Mr. Funmi Onabolu, is nowhere to be found.

Today, ad agencies have jettisoned modern tool in enhancing business. Industry practitioners still travel abroad to introduce their business and risk resource and time, a situation that could have been taken care of with a viable website.

For instance, how would Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, FCB, Grey network, WPP and Omnicom assess our agencies if it not through adequate and functional websites?

The recent boost in Dubai interactive agency will rightly be attributed to the rising popularity of net-based community and social networking sites like MySpace, YouTube and Facebook. The wide usage of those sites has sparked considerable market interest across the business world, and many interactive agencies have begun offering personal and corporate community website development mutually of their service offerings. All signs point to online networking as the long run of name marketing and interactive advertising will be the core of Complete Communication and Promoting Strategy.

According to Charles O'Tudor, Principal Consultant, Adstrat, "the IT infrastructure has become the most important tool for successful businesses globally. Not only does it enable business information at your fingertips it also ensures that transactions are executed on a global scale irrespective of distances."

He said, the role of the Internet and its attendant website hosting cannot be over-emphasised. The advertising sector thrives on information at the speed of light and companies, which function without the deployment of functional web-based infrastructure only exist at their own peril. The economies of scale will invariably come to bear in the long run negatively. I strongly believe that no successful business can be operated without a solid IT infrastructure and its attendant attributes."

He continues, if there are brand communicators out there functioning without same they should have a quick rethink."

While Mr. Isaac Umunna, a brand analyst said, "I wouldn't consider any agency without a website a serious one. A website is not only a sort of cheap advert but also serves as a means to facilitate contact."

Ad agencies in the country have given little or no attention to this aspect of their businesses. Reaffirming the important of web-based business in advertising, Mr. Muyiwa Akintunde, executive direction, Marketing Mix Limited said, "business is now global and one of the tools of enhancing the benefits is the website. Every forward looking company should have a functional one," he advised.

Meanwhile, Demola Adedoyin, President, Genity Procurement and former communications channel manager of Unilever attributes the problem to lack of visionary leadership in the industry. "it has more to do with leadership vision and corporate destination," he said.

Perhaps, industry practitioners do not know the usefulness of having a functional website. Mr. Charlie Griffin, an experience in website consultant and IT manager said a good website should be able to help a brand tell its story and answer questions for it even when brand owner is not visibly present.

According to Griffin, "your business has a unique story that needs to be told and your website is a great place to tell it. A website can answer frequently asked questions of your potential customers too. Your business is all about your contacts. A website can take names and addresses 24 hour a day hence you can grow your contact list with your website.

Some useful tips a website does to a business include providing direction to your place of business, build credibility for your business, qualify your prospects, bring in customers that you would most likely have not reached without having a website and finally, make you money.

It is noteworthy to state that as at press time, the apex regulatory body APCON has no functional website. PR firms in the country are worst example. Perhaps, this is why foreign affiliates are treating Nigerian counterparts with shabbily because they do not have enough information about Nigerian marketing communication industry.

The bottom line is a website should make you money. Providing an easy way to order needed parts or services is a given. But doing e-commerce can be a whole other ballgame. It is high time Nigerian businesses imbibed modern way of doing business.

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