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AI, Reform Will Impact Marketing Communications in 2024

The advancement of Artificial Intelligence and actualisation of the marketing industry reform are among the major factors that will impact the marketing communications ecosystem in 2024, writes Raheem Akingbolu

Last year, conversations around marketing technology, advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the industry reform topped the chat in many fora, where issues related to the future of marketing in Nigeria were discussed.

Under what was tagged ‘Intelligent Advertising’, many local and international scholars tried to unravel how AI-powered ads will reshape the market in the years ahead.

At the twilight of 2023, the debate that trailed the popular Advertising industry reform, being championed by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), reached the peak with the decision of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) to challenge the regulatory council in court over the reform.

 But at the 2023 National Advertising Conference, which was held last month in Abuja to stimulate the industry ahead the opportunities and prospects in 2024, stakeholders including the leadership of the five sectoral bodies, marketing communications scholars and representatives of the federal government, reiterated their support for ARCON over the reform. 

Speaking at the event, ARCON Registrar, Lekan Fadolapo while assuring practitioners that the industry will be redefined in 2024, said there was no going back on reform.  “Though we have started enjoying some of the benefits of the reform, it will be total from next year,” Fadolapo stated.

While charging practitioners to prepare well to support the FG’s drive to recover the economy, Fadolapo disclosed that research has shown that marketing communication as an economic activity is strategic to the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy. Thus, he confirmed the position of many experts that communication is the driver of a healthy and thriving society.

In a telephone conversation with THISDAY, Fadolapo further confirmed that 2024 would witness a new order for players in the Marketing Communications industry.

“Practitioners are waiting for the full implementation of the industry reform this year. It will be a new order to reset the practice and the business. You will agree with me that the Bola Tinubu led administration is doing a lot to position the economy. The industry reform will surely aid the drive because it would lead to agency growth and standardisation of creative works, thereby impacting the economy positively,” Fadolapo further said.

Capital Flight

In view of the current development, ARCON reform will strengthen regulation and minimize capital flight in the marketing communications industry in 2024. In the last quarter of last year, the Advertising Offences Tribunal wielded the big stick and challenged some agencies over unapproved materials. For instance, ARCON, had in a summons dated December 19, 2023, directed the chairman of the Ambassadors College, Mr. Samson Osewa, to appear before the tribunal for publishing an advert that was neither vetted nor approved by the Advertising Standards Panel.

The council had earlier in a statement advised advertisers to stop the capital flight and development of other countries’ economies by going out of the country to produce adverts meant for the Nigerian market, thereby killing the advertising industry.

In 2022, ARCON disclosed that the Nigerian Advertising Industry loses over N120 billion annually to production of advertising, advertisement and marketing communication materials outside the country and stated that there must be 75 per cent of cumulative local content in advertising, advertisements and marketing communication materials aimed at the Nigerian market. 

Intelligent Advertising

A former President of Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), Tunji Adeyinka, while speaking to THISDAY on prospect for 2024 admitted that the year would be a watershed in the IMC market in Nigeria as practitioners foresee some consolidation, by way of strategic partnerships across the different sectors. He also emphasised that AI and Marketing Technology would play vital roles.

He said: “While we have been speaking about marketing technology and the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, this year we will begin to see more practical applications of AI into the marketing communications ecosystem. Economists have predicted that the Nigerian economy is still not out of the woods, so consumer purchasing power would be further impacted and this would affect marketing spend. Spend is going to be more result-driven and short term in scope and we believe that marketing functions that stimulate sales like Experiential would get an increase in spend because of this. Regulation would be a critical topic this year because of the planned implementation of the ARCON law.” 

As pointed out by Adeyinka, current developments in the industry have shown that Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the Nigerian content ecosystem, impacting everything from the way content is created and distributed to the way it is consumed and monetized. It’s believed that AI is having a profound impact on the Nigerian content ecosystem because it appears to be making it easier and more efficient to create, distribute, consume, and monetize content. This is leading to a more vibrant and diverse content ecosystem in Nigeria.

Globally, almost all major platforms (Google, Facebook, Amazon) and independent programmatic ones currently employ smart algorithms for ad campaign optimization. Meanwhile, Google recently climbed upon a completely new level of AI implementation in ad tech by introducing generative AI tools that can already replicate the work of professional marketing agencies.

Expert’s View

Speaking on the likely trend in 2024, the President, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Steve Babaeko, said the optimism of creative agencies in the new year is buoyed by a hint of caution. “Anticipation surrounds the potential fruition of the president’s policies, particularly in crucial domains like exchange rate stability, inflation, and security, which could act as a much-needed remedy for our economic challenges. With fingers crossed, we anticipate a positive impact on the purchasing power of Nigerians. 

“However, a shadow looms in the form of a potential escalation in the global geopolitical crisis. Such external pressures could intensify the strain on an already fragile global economy, posing a threat to any local recovery in the initial two quarters,” he stated.

Despite these concerns, the AAN leader said he remained optimistic about the resilience of the marketing communication industry, pointing out that navigating through uncertainties, is poised to weather the storm and emerge robust in the face of challenges. 

“Our mission is to consistently convey the fundamental values of brands to consumers, enhancing their confidence and aiding them in making well-informed purchasing decisions. Additionally, we’ve proposed a comprehensive rebranding plan for Nigeria to the Minister of Information. We are optimistic about implementing this initiative in the current year, recognising the vital support our nation requires,” he added.

QUOTES

“Current developments in the industry have shown that Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the Nigerian content ecosystem, impacting everything from the way content is created and distributed to the way it is consumed and monetized. It’s believed that AI is having a profound impact on the Nigerian content ecosystem because it appears to be making it easier and more efficient to create, distribute, consume, and monetize content. This is leading to a more vibrant and diverse content ecosystem in Nigeria.”

“Practitioners are waiting for the full implementation of the industry reform this year. It will be a new order to reset the practice and the business. You will agree with me that the Bola Tinubu led administration is doing a lot to position the economy. The industry reform will surely aid the drive because it would lead to agency growth and standardisation of creative works, thereby impacting the economy positively.”

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