Since the early days of advertising in Nigeria, the never ending evolution of the advertising industry has witnessed beautiful methods of advertisement being adopted by both professional and “rookie” advertising agencies. Not forgetting the “fathers of advertisement” in Nigeria which are the rural town criers with their early gong morning signals who conveyed information by public announcement to their immediate environment with the aim of adequately making the public look forward to events or products. It is honourable to say they began the journey of advertisement in Nigeria which has now gone modern to the very extent of the digital world being used for advertisements.
However, the growth in advertising industry hasn’t reached its peak and faces more challenges than ever to maintain the impressive growth it has enjoyed in the past and recent times. This all brings questions to the future of the advertising agencies in Nigeria.
Advertising as defined by Arens (1997) is “the structured and non-personal communication usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products (goods, services and ideas) by identified sponsors through various media”; and by Encyclopaedia Americana (1997) as “the techniques and practices used to bring products, services, opinions or causes to public notice for the purpose of persuading the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised”; and in shorter terms, Advertising is a subset of Marketing. Marketing is a process involving a series of actions that take place sequentially; aimed at satisfying customer’s needs. In other words, Advertising is a marketing strategy which conveys no less than required enticing information about a business, organisation or product.
Advertising (Ad) agencies on the other hand are responsible for the using their platforms to pass and display information about products or services by companies to the immediate public with the aim of increasing demand for their services or products. A method used by Ad agencies is to display their client’s products through online platforms including websites, blogs and social media with somewhat large user base such as YouTube, Google etc., while another method used by agencies is the display of products and services on newspapers, billboards, flyers etc. Advertising serves vital roles in any organization such as branding products, building brand awareness, preference and loyalty. Advertising also effectively reduces cost of sales as such that the cost of reaching out to a large consumer base is considerably equal to reaching just one consumer.
Advertising in Nigeria has been in existence for years before civilization with its reign dating back to the days of disseminating information and mass communication by town crying. Also putting into account the hawkers who till date employ display advertising to pronounce the wares they had to offer by attracting attention to the goods through announcing of the quantity and quality of their goods. These forms of advertising were the major practise till civilization. Nigeria witnessed her first printing press which was established in Calabar by the Presbyterian Church in 1846. The first formal media advertisement was subsequently birthed in “Iwe Irohin” which was the first Nigerian newspaper published by a Reverend Harvey Townsend, a Christian Missionary Society (C.M.S) Reverend in Abeokuta on December 1869. This aforementioned event would then change the fate of advertising in Nigeria.
The boost in business activities in Nigeria then encouraged more media advertising which led to the establishment of the first Ad agency in Nigeria “West African Publicity Ltd” (WAP). Further growth in economy and business created opportunities for more business and organisations which led to further need for advertising. However, the continuous growth in advertising in Nigeria brings along some challenges that would require careful attention in the immediate future. To mention a few; Nigeria’s poor economy is a debatable topic and would easily affect most organisations due to poor purchasing power by majority of Nigerians.
This boils down to the fact of Nigerian Companies finding it hard to sell their products (boosts their sales), they will most likely cut down on advertising expenses, which does not particularly bode well for advertising agencies. Another quite obvious challenge faced by the is the uncontrollable growth in size of Ad agencies; with several new agencies springing up, it is becoming alarming that these new agencies might not be professional and this it would not represent the Ad industry. It would be of great help for professional agencies to improve their skills and professionalism should be monitored. Considering the establishment of the Advertisement Practitioners of Nigeria (APCON), there can be a rest of mind over the professionalism issues, trusting the organization to ensure agencies register as credible practitioners on the long run.
Bearing in mind few more challenges being faced by the Ad industry in Nigeria and hoping these challenges are efficiently tackled, the industry shouldn’t have problems developing into one of the finest globally. It’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel for the Ad agencies in Nigeria as the constant growth and activities carried out by top Ad agencies in Nigeria would help to raise the flag of the industry as a whole. Frequent monitoring of the aforementioned and unscripted challenges overtime would greatly help the cause of the Ad industry in competing with Ad industries worldwide.