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On Nigeria’s digital integration: Q&A with Anakle COO

Nigeria’s digital industry is getting very interesting. More social media campaigns are popping up and during the last elections digital ideas took centre stage. In September 2015 the number of mobile internet users on Nigeria‚Äôs telecoms networks clocked in at 97.21 million, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). This is huge, according to the GSMA this is the largest mobile market on the continent.

Nigerian digital agencies see this, they see the potential of an internet connected society and the are playing to that. In 2014, a cheeky little game pop up on the web call The Brideprice app. The game was designed a fun way (depending on who you ask) to figure out how much brideprice you should pay for your potential mate. That app, was built by Anakle, a digital agency hopping to win over Nigeria’s digital space through innovation and creativity. Last year it launched a social campaign aimed to highlight the good work Nigeria’s soldiers were doing to protect the nation from insurgents.

Memeburn caught up with Anakle’s COO, Munachi Nwoke-Ekpo, ahead of his talk at Social Media Week in Lagos this week. He talks about the Nigerian digital landscape, the integration of digital by traditional agencies and social media for social good.

Memeburn: How healthy do you think the Nigerian digital space is right now?

Munachi Nwoke-Ekpo: I think it’s in a really good place. Internet penetration grew 16% YoY in 2015, outstripping population growth by over 500%. Mobile penetration is now 74%. This points at a future that’s largely connected, especially through mobile devices.

Of course this growth means brands and consumers are finding more and more creative ways to use digital technology and as technology improves, these solutions get even better. Major brands are going digital first for the first time in the market, and that basically means mobile first.

MB: What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the Nigerian digital space over the past 5 years?

MN: The rise of mobile phones was probably the biggest change to happen in the smallest amount of time. A brand manager once said to me that football defies all media logic, that TVs will remain first screens while the game is on. In the last 5 years, we have seen a gradual transition. Mobile phones are now the primary screen. People watch sports so they can tweet about it, rather than vise versa.

MB: Where do you think the biggest growth potential for Nigerian agencies is?

MN: I think we need to see more indepth data driven mobile integration in campaign efforts. More brands are finally agreeing that the person with the most data will edge the market. What we have done in recent times has been helping brands design long term data gathering and analytics infrastructure.

It’s also interesting to see how the weakening of the Naira motivates increased investment in local ad networks.

MB: How good have traditional agencies been at integrating their digital efforts in Nigeria?

MN: I think they’ve been fair. Most have preferred to partner with native digital agencies in order to do so. But they’ve all recognised the potential of digital technology as the next frontier. It very rare these days to see a traditional campaign without a digital strategy to be implemented.

MB: Adblockers are becoming an increasingly thorny issue in the global ad space. What has the response among Nigerian agencies been like?

MN: The goal is to design creative campaigns that negate the need for ads in the first place. Some of the most engaging content on the internet in recent years have been indie video content and memes. Their engagement and click through values have shown there is a different track possible. What we’ve helped brands do over the last couple of years, is building campaigns based on engaging content, and reducing reliance on traditional forms of digital advertising.

MB: Who are some of the new and exciting Nigerian digital players we should be aware of?

MN: Aside from us? (haha) Actually, I’d say our new subsidiary, Anakle Labs is testing a lot of very interesting technologies, which we hope will disrupt the status quo. I really like the work I see from the Nigerian tech space in general. Hotels.ng is a good company and of course the guys at Techcabal are really bringing insight into this space in Nigeria. On the digital agency side the work Noah’s Ark and Wild Fusion are doing are quite noteworthy.

MB: In a number of markets, the line between agencies and startups is blurring. Are there any agencies in Nigeria doing a good job of selling product as well as hours?

MN: I think first we have decide what a startup actually is. Are we doing a good job regarding product and time? Yes there are a lot of them, but there is definitely room for more. I think this will grow and change over time as the industry evolves.

MB: In South Africa, we saw some agencies taken by surprise by the rapid adoption of smartphones. Did something similar happen in Nigeria?

MN: Not really. I believe we were more prepared for it, having watched international trends carefully and knowing that it was only a matter of time. Especially when low end smartphones were introduced into the market.

MB: What were some of the best digital campaigns to come out of Nigeria in 2015?

MN: 2015 was election year, and campaign focus was as much on digital as it was on traditional. The I Have Decided campaign for the APC party rallied a lot of Nigerians around its promise of change. It was pretty successful as the party won the presidency. The Thank a Soldier campaign was probably the best CSR focused digital campaign we did last year. It rallied real support for our troops, the type rarely seen recently because of the perception out there. So far this year, we’ve seen a state use the internet to drive top of mind awareness for tourism — #ExploreBauchi.

MB: How can organizations use social media for social good without it becoming self promotion?

MN: It’s something we have actually written about. At Anakle, we have very high confidentiality rules, which cover even our own CSR campaigns. We are committed to ensuring we are a responsible corporate player, but we are even more committed to making sure we make a difference without inserting ourselves into the conversation. We want to create good news for our communities, not be the news.

MB: Tell us a bit about the thank a solider campaign?

MN: The Thank A Soldier campaign was Anakle’s CSR initiative, rallying support for our troops and raising awareness online about what they’re doing to keep us safe, in the north and all around the country. We also threw a party offline for over 2000 military kids at the Ikeja cantonment, as well as hosting some of the troops to a movie show.

MB: What will your Social media week talk focus on?

MN: The weakening of the naira is going to change the way digital marketing is done. Brands simply can’t just throw money at digital. Our job now is to show how brands can adapt and engage more. Personally, I will be discussing the Thank A Soldier campaign and how organizsations can utilise social media for CSR.

Author | Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter

Nur Bremmen: Staff reporter
Nur is an enigma with a passion for creating words. He recently entered a love affair with technology and chorizo sausages. He travels a lot -- you catch him, if you can, at a Silicon Cape event every now and again. More