Media planning is Becoming Generic, Clients must Read Between the Lines

PHD Media made a foray into the Nigerian market four years ago with Bayo Adisa at the helms of affairs as Managing Director.  Mr. Adisa hosted a couple of media men to a roundtable session recently and did demystified some age-old beliefs in media planning while zeroing in on the PHD edge among other knotty issues in the industry . Brandcrunch provides excerpts.  
How popular is PHD media and what stands it out?
PHD is second a line Media Company of the Omnicom Group. One of the largest marketing communication groups in the world. In the media arm of the Omnicom holding company, we have OMD, PHD and Prometheus. The later is not a trading name that has arrived in Sub-Saharan Africa. PHD and OMD are very active in our market. PHD was founded in order to deploy thought leadership in the area of media management. It is not meant to be a large firm, but in terms of output, quality of service and drive for excellence,  it does not only satisfy the client but ensuring that the client is delighted. Our PHD started business in Nigeria 4 years ago. It has been a good adventure for us. The name PHD is a trade mark name. It is just the way it is. It is like OMD.
What you meant by thought leadership as a PHD’s business model and how does this benefit the client?
Every business must have a vision. Wherever you play you must be able to define a niche for yourself. That is why in our business some people strength lies in buying media, and as such they can generate deals and package deals for clients. Some others are strong in research or planning. For us, the strength of PHD is in strategic media planning. Thought leadership in this regard entails that whatever it is that you are doing, you are adapting global best practices, to ensure that in your market, the way you play you are going for the leadership position. Our kind of business and our business offering as media agencies is becoming generic. But what counts for the difference is the quality of efficiency that you put into what you are doing, your drive for efficiency and ability to think outside the box. We have been able to demonstrate this effectively especially if you look at the flagship campaigns we have ran for our clients like Lacasera, Overtine among others.
There appears to be more media agencies servicing a few Ad spenders, why is the industry shaped this way?
Yes, the truth is the real media spenders are very few. Some of these agencies are circumstantial agencies. They are agencies that were brought to be on account of some compelling situation and circumstances. When you see media buying practitioner who is a friend to a high placed manager on the client’s side, the next thing is to form an agency. When you look at some of these agencies, they have one or two clients and that is what they are sitting on. The end of such agency is closer than could be imagined. However, you cannot have an international player like PHD and you say that is how you want to operate. It is not possible. 
Media buying success is often measured in terms of cost efficiency, how then do you ensure effectiveness of planning that will generate call to action that will impact on client bottom-line?
Increasingly, clients are becoming more discerning. They are looking at the whole idea of having a media agency that goes beyond budget efficiency. The ability to stretch the budget, get discounts, get rebate and concession that will enable the client’s budget to deliver more in value, that is what we call budget efficiency. It is not just enough that the client has put N5m down and you are able to deliver N6m worth of media. It is how this N5m has impacted on the business itself. If I sell products, what chunk in my sales figure can I readily record on account of my advertising?  And all of this will come back to you as agency because you have to profile the clients target audience. Profiling means agency’s ability to define their psychographics and demographics. This will give insights on where can you engage them at every point in time. All these are what is very important and the understanding of all these will determine the effectiveness of your planning. When you have effective planning and you are able to match it with budget efficiency, then you are a star to your client. It is much more important that the long term benefit and success of the client business is paramount in the media agency’s scheme of things. That is where you have the media planning and strategy which is based on research and scientific knowledge and understanding of the target audience.
The buzz now is “online advertisement”, is the platform is over-rated in view of what some described as lackluster creative materials on the platform?
I do not think that Online has not been creatively put together. What I think is lacking is that, as in every new concept, it will take time to materialize. In fact we should be talking about mobile advertising. If you look at it we are essentially a youth population. The youth are the consumers of the online content. The target market of advertising brand has to be well defined. Where do you find your core target group? If you want to sell a car and you are advertising online, how many youth population will buy the new cars. What we should be talking about is the effectiveness of the deployment of the online advertisement and this rests with media planners. We have to be able to advise our clients on the media channels that will deliver the audience.
Could you assess 2014 and give us your projections for 2015 in the face of vagaries in the system?
Last year has been a basket of the good and the bad. If you say the industry is doing so well, many may not be able to tell the same story. However, what dominated our environment in the year that just ended was that a good number of clients slashed their budgets. But the good news is that as all these were happening, we had new entrants, new businesses coming in. There were new clients that came into the economy and wanting to do things that will bring them to limelight to the discerning consumer.  Projections into 2015, the thinking was that from the last quarter of the year, there will be a lot of noise from political activity. But how much of political ads are we recording? The elections are coming up in few weeks but the ads are not there. The political campaigns are not really materializing, so we have to look inwards. In another arm is to look at the global phenomenon of the slide in oil price. All of these will impact on marketing. We are worst hit as we did not prepare for it. 2015 will not be as juicy as we expected but discerning media agencies and marketing communication practitioners need to think inwards. For any client to sign on an agency, the later must bring value to the table.
What is the sense in a global organization like Omnicom having so many affiliates in an economy, what is the advantage to the economy they are operating in?
It is an area we can streamline to FDI. When they come they want to look at the economy to find out the best way they can maximize the opportunities. Firstly, their presence in this kind of economy goes beyond profiteering. It is more of the ability to service their existing global clients. Those multinational organizations deal with credible organizations. That is what we call reputational benefits. That automatically translates to benefits for local affiliates. That is what gives rise to account movements and realignments.
Four years of business in Nigeria, how has it been?
It has been a wonderful journey. The peculiarity of the PHD is interesting if you look at business that started from ground zero. From zero it has grown to become a success story. We thank God and grateful to those who believe in the leadership of the company. We live in the existence of our clients. For the first 4 months there was no business but today we boast of several clients whom we provide quality service to. My pedigree and performance from MediaCom, my last place of work as director of business development and the goodwill I was able to build in the industry translated to benefits that enabled us to serve as launching pad for PHD.
2015 is here, how does PHD plan to delight its clients in real terms?
The business we are in is an ever evolving business. You cannot rest on your performance of last year. You have to be constantly thinking the next thing. On our part we have been able to take compliance and control to another level. Our clients attest to this. We have been able to develop mechanism that is bullish in ensuring that our partners comply with set rules and conditions of our terms of engaging them. Performance of the agency oftentimes will be based on the quality of the control in ensuring compliance.