Under the headship of Ayo Kupoluyi, Starcomm Media Vest Nigeria has been growing in leaps and bounds, winning “star” accounts. In this chat, the Managing Director shares his thoughts on the secret behind this growth and other issues concerning media buying in Nigeria
Assess the Nigerian Media buying market?
I think the media market in Nigeria is growing. It has been growing quite significantly over the past few years because companies and brands are appreciating the values we are bringing to the table. Media buyers are very scientific in the business these days. Before we do anything, a lot of research will have to go into it to ensure that those who depend on us to make informed decisions get the most value for their spend. Gone are the days when people make placements based on emotions and relationships. I am not saying this has totally been eliminated but professional judgements come are brought to bear on placement decisions. That is why most of the people in the business, especially the big spenders are working with us. And with the growth in the Nigerian economy, with new business opportunities opening up, we are sure to witness even more exponential growth in the years ahead.
What percentage do you think are being captured by the media buyers?
It is true that there are still a lot of businesses that are not coming to us but at the present, I can safely say we have been able to capture at least 60 to 70 percent of the business and this not bad considering where we are coming from. And when more people begin to appreciate what we are doing, it will get even bigger.
Do you think the country needs as many media buying agencies as they have ad agencies?
I think this is a question that should be left for the market to decide. But if you look at the market in general, it is not usually all the people that started a race that normally end it. Some will fall off along the way while others will run till the end. But looking at the Nigerian market, the population and the volume of business going on and still growing, then I can tell you that no one can say we have too many media independent. In fact I forsee a number of new one coming in the future. But in the end, it is all about competition and healthy competition for that matter. Once we have this, the market will be the better for it.
Starcomm has been winning a lot of accounts lately. What are you doing right?
The only thing I can tell you is that it is by the Grace of God. Without God, there is nothing we ca really do. But apart from this, I think the market is seeing the values we bring to the table and they are coming to benefit from this value. I have told you before that everything we do is driven b research. Our people are always in the field gathering data and information on where best to place what message to reach which category of people. E do this regularly and we update as frequently as our work here demands. I can tell you that there is no single placement we make that is not driven by research. We do this because we want our clients to have the best value for their money. We want to deliver good results for them. If we are not doing this, they would not be coming to us. But otherwise, like I said earlier, everything is by the grace of God.
What possible challenges could the spread of digital marketing pose to your kind of business?
I think digital marketing is actually coming to complement what we are doing here. The history of all the developments in the media has never seen anyone replacing the other. Take for instance radio. Has all the developments in television been able to replace radio? The answer is no. Even television, there is this talk about television going out of demand; people are saying that most people do not watch television anymore. But if you look at the market, you can see that there is a new trend that will see that television develops even further. These days, television has become mobile. With devices like your phone, you can now watch television on the go. Television is no longer static. It is no longer a piece of equipment you keep in your house. It has become mobile. Again if you have noticed, there are developments in the area of video on demand. This also presents opportunities for the deepening of television. This means that television for instance is going through some form of reinvention and this rather reinforces the job of a media buying agency that will research and be able to advise clients on where best to each the community or segment he is targeting. This example just goes to show that our job is still very critical. Digital marketing may just be a new space, a new area of marketing but I personally do not see as a threat to out business. And as you can see, we have also seen this already and have been able to set up a digital marketing unit here to help advise and help clients who have messages they want to send through the digital ecosystem.
Campaign budgets have been on the upswing. What implication does this have for your business?
It is through that campaign budgets have been on the increase. This just supports my earlier assertion that the Nigerian economy has been growing. There is increasing competition for the consumers’ attention and that is because businesses have also been growing. For us, it means the likelihood of more briefs but then that brings with it the challenges of sustaining professionalism and adding value to those who depend on us to make judicious use of available budget. I say this because the fact that campaign budgets have been on the upswing does not imply we just can spend as we wish without scientific metrics.
Your share of the market
I cannot categorically tell you that we have this or that share of this market. The only thing I will say is that we are not doing badly as a business and we will keep working hard to delight our clients because that is the only way we will be here tomorrow.
How independent are media independents?
I think I mentioned it here before. Gone are the days when media buying is based on emotions and mere relationships. We have ensured that there must be reasons for each placement. I will not speak about others but here at Starcomm Media, we work hard to ensure we do our best for our clients. And they have always trusted our judgements which is why they have retained their businesses with us. People sit and think our job begins and ends with placing adverts in newspapers. This is not true. We conduct regular research. We buy research data and documents and with this, we make informed and cost efficient decisions on media placements. It really because clients trust this judgement that make them do business with us. So the question of whether we are truly independent does not arise. IF we are not, why would we be in this business?
What is the situation as it relates to the issue of media debt?
You know this issue has always been thrown up and each time I hear it, I laugh it off. I happen to have been one of those that investigated this issue when the newspapers and media owners were talking about it and we investigated it. At the end of the day, we discovered that most of those things being classified as debts are no debts at all because most of them had actually been paid for. The issue of media debt is no longer something we believe is an issue. What we have not may be delayed payment but we are addressing that.