Mr. Austin Efienamokwu is the Media Director/Business Head of Vizeum, a member of the Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network, the fastest growing network globally. The agency is globally reputed for deploying media touch points to build powerful connections between brands and consumers at speed and scale. And in Nigeria, it is rated as one of the fastest growing agencies.
With more than 10 years of hands-on experience in strategic media planning and implementation, media research and brand management for several multinational brands across various sectors and across several markets including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Central Africa region, he has, since he got in the saddle, reinforced the growth strategy of the agency which, in the last couple of years, has won a number of lucrative media businesses.
In this interview, the Vizeum boss explains how the agency has been able to deliver growth for its clients by leveraging its global experience in technology and in-depth understanding of the local market.
What are your company’s core values?
Agile – We are nimble, quick & flexible, thinking and acting differently.
We have a trail blazing & inquisitive culture where relentlessness & hunger are rewarded.
Pioneering – We’re innovative, risk- taking self -starters; building an industry legacy.
Collaborative – Working together globally to deliver a consistent brand experience; partnering together locally to provide the best client solution
Responsible – We take individual and collective responsibility for our thoughts and actions,
How is your agency different from other media agencies?
We add real business value and accelerate growth to deliver bottom line results for clients like no other media agency network in this region. To achieve this, we dig deep into our clients’ business goals and create innovative solutions to address these challenges.
We bring data-driven solutions that transform media from a numbers game to a game changer. From analytics to answers, Never static, never still, where the only thing to keep pace with the growth of our inventiveness is the growth of our clients’ success. Simply, we humanize to impact on bottom-line.
This is Vizeum. Accelerating business growth through media. This is our passion, our commitment to our clients and how we attract, train and retain our people.
To what extent would you say recession impacted on the media agencies in Nigeria?
2016 -2017 were challenging years for the industry largely due to the impact of recession. During the recession, we witnessed constant depreciation of the Naira; the dollar went upand you had to always make allowances for future exchange rate fluctuations. Global media partners were pressured to commence Naira billings regime to mitigate the impact of the exchange rate fluctuation on media campaigns.
We witnessed budget cuts from clients as the economy was recessed, cost of doing business increased, goods and services became expensive and most clients looked inwards to see what to be rationalized in the marketing OPEX. Media budgets stood out and was the most hit by the rationalizations without corresponding review of media KPIs. Agencies had to come up with ingenious ways to maximize every buck of spend by delivering high discounts, extra value and getting media partners like the OOH suppliers to consider day part billings for LED screens and multiple ad rotations in LED slots to drive visibility for clients.
We also saw the rise of procurement led media negotiations and increased volume discount demands from clients, thereby leading agencies to re-invent themselves towards unlocking new grounds to stay competitive.
Agencies generally struggled, Vizeum and other agencies within our network were able to weather the storm through future-proofing the industry and taking bold steps to arrive at where we are today – as the No1 in new business wins in 2017 as recorded by the research Company Evaluating the Media Agency Industry (RECMA).
What is your company’s competitive edge in the media planning and buying business?
Our agency’s competitive advantage is simply our superior (bespoke) single sourced data system called Consumer Connection System (CCS)
CCS is the Dentsu Aegis Networks flagship integrated consumer insight, planning and buying suite tools, designed to feed communication strategy and tactical planning.
This bespoke, consumer centric, insight and planning system is specifically designed to help Media-Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network clients target their communication and optimize their media investments more effectively.
Globally, the CCS footprint includes 57 countries with over 350,000 respondents. With in-depth surveys performed across West, East & South Africa, CCS can be applied both regionally and locally to deliver enhanced communications strategy and planning with improved targeting, precision and actionability.
We also attract people from diverse backgrounds. We believe this is essential in nurturing a culture of innovation. We offer an agile environment that works around client’s different needs and allows everyone to reach their potential.
We offer data solutions that take clients from marketing to people we don’t know, to people we do know through our proprietary data systems. We build unique consumer segments to scale big ideas and nurture one-on-one relationships to connect to people’s behaviors and passions.
Our agency’s core competences that give us an edge in the industry lies also in our communication strategy and planning, consumer insight, media buying, global media partnerships, branded content and product placement, content development, digital media, search engine optimization, online marketing, social media management, sponsorship, data management, direct marketing and programmatic delivery in collaboration with our specialist divisions like Isobar, iProspect, Posterscope, Amnet, Rapid Extra et al.
As our world becomes increasingly delineated, we see new possibilities in how data, media and technology can be blended together to build innovation and effective brand communications. Using our unique network operating model, we build integrated, scalable solutions for our clients.
What are the challenges facing media agencies in Nigeria?
Insufficient and quality data is a bane in the industry. Data collection methodology remains a challenge in the Nigerian advertising space and this has created a lot of questions when developing marketing strategies. The standard industry planning data set available are still being tracked manually thus creating difficulty in ensuring real-time campaign optimization; and creating room for proprietary tools like CCS data to close the gap.
Lack of innovation is another challenge faced in the industry, our group (Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network) has been driving the frontier of innovations to unlock transformational business values to our clients and stakeholders. Being part of a global network gives us a massive innovation advantage to drive business result for our clients.
Clients have gone past the days of stereotype media planning, to an era where consumers mindset is taken into consideration in effectively delivering media, that then begins to address business challenges.
The optics of positioning media agencies in the last stages of integrated marketing communication is also a challenge agencies need to overcome. A lot of the media agencies are still comfortable with taking an existing creative idea or platform from a creative agency and activating this across media (traditional media planning approach).
Media agencies need to have a media first thinking mentality with a clear understanding of the consumer media consumption ecosystem when engaging clients and strive for the best possible outcome in terms of idea development, creativity and innovation at the core of the ideation process.
Business challenges are what clients are increasingly asking us to solve, not just media challenges.
Why do you think advertisers are gradually moving away from traditional media to new media in reaching consumers?
Clients are constantly demanding return on investment through measured media and real time results. In the digital economy, Mass media (largely unquantified media) will decline dramatically in the next 2 – 3yrs.Inorder to survive, media planning will need to become more measured / addressable. Access points to content are expanding via mobile, online content portals, Facebook, Google etc. You’ll look for the best content and the likelihood of that being online is 60-80%. Remember, consumers are following content and not channels and the growing internet penetration is an attestation to what to expect in the future.
Who are your clients (past & present)?
We are proud to work with some of the top multinational clients in Nigeria. Clients like ABInBev (Budweiser, Castle Lite, Hero Lager Beer, Trophy Lager Beer, Grand Malt, Beta Malta, Eagle Lager etc), Arla foods (Dano Milk), Huawei, Total, Red Bull and most recently Gbam Lotto, et al.