‘Without media monitoring, chances of clients getting value for advert campaigns are slim’
Uche Aligbe is the CEO of Media Monitoring Services Nigeria Limited. In this interview he took BusinessDay through the evolution of media monitoring industry. Aligbe said the idea is to give clients who are spending humongous amount annually on advertising through various media channels value for every kobo spent. He said his company MMS established in 1995 with multi-million Naira investment also provides industry information to allow clients understand trends in other to remain competitive. Aligbe who is passionate about media monitoring business said the 25 years company is driven by integrity and technology. He also spoke on other issues such as how media planners can leverage MMS data for planning. Excerpts
What is media monitoring all about?
It is simply the capture of compliance of media exposure of clients’ materials. It also involves the provision of vital media, marketing and research information to stakeholders to enhance project and campaign planning and execution. In the past, clients were shooting in the dark but with media monitoring, they can plan accurately, know whether their adverts ran in the media and how the campaigns were running. With data available we are providing the brands owners with information as to what is happening not just around them but around their competitors so that they can take a proactive step.
We established Media Monitoring Services Nigeria Limited in 1995 to offer this service which was hitherto a gap that we identified in the industry. Before this time, I was brand manager of a multinational company and we realized that there was absence of real data to do what exactly clients wanted to do in terms of brand communication. Again brand managers didn’t know exactly what was happening between brands and media in terms of communication and communicating to the public. Were the messages passing to the public? How was public receiving it? We needed to fill up this gap because we needed to do a better job for the brands and for industry as whole. So we came to fill this gap and that was the background to Media Monitoring Services Company.
Were there modifications to the idea with the world going technological now?
Even if the world is not going technological, to be 25 years is to grow old. You garner experience and put it into the system. I can tell you that whole lot has changed. Technology has come in, experience has come in and therefore what you see now is sometimes beyond what technology alone will give to you. So, we are at home with technology, we are at home with experience.
With media monitoring, where is the role of media planning agencies?
Media monitoring agencies provide media planning firms the pre- and post-information to do their job. For example, you can’t plan for a station you really don’t know whether it exists, you don’t know how much it is airing; you don’t know the volume of advertising that is passing through it. Not even those people who are watching or not. In the course of our business, we found out that there were electronic media outfits in this country that would come on when there is public electricity, if there is no electricity, they shut down. Sitting down here you won’t know that, you would think that they are running your campaign. There are times station breaks down for months and they keep quiet and the planner keeps buying into what is not in existence. That is our job to identify this and save clients’ money, ensure compliance so that messages will reach the target audience.
Could you let us into the technology you are using to monitor the various media in the country?
Before I answer that question on technology, we have offices in 14 locations. Whether you have the technology or not, there are limits to number of stations you can pick up no matter the technology. So, sometimes you need to be specific in some locations to be able to pick it. What technology is doing for us is that we can go to sleep and technology is working. We have top flight technology and this is replicated in other locations in this country. On services, we have been talking about compliance but you don’t plan in the terrain you don’t know. There is what we call competitive advertising service, we tell you how well you are doing and how well your competition is doing, not just in terms of numbers but in terms of all the parameters you required to be effective in reaching your audience. Apart from telling you who you are, we also provide the industry the growth, the trend, and area you are growing and in what direction you are growing.
You came in 25 years ago when there was opposition even from those you want to service, what is the magic of your acceptance today?
First, we thought that media buyers will be the best target for us because they need to provide this information to confirm to clients, instead we faced opposition. So we changed our tactics and went to the brand owners, those paying for the service, we strongly believed that they need the information and a whole lot of them said they need it. In fact it got to a point there was war in this industry and the war was to kill the media monitoring business but the advertisers themselves said no-way unless you have an alternative. They put their feet on the ground because they are the ones paying the bills and those who are saying no have to keep quite. They accepted the idea because it’s what they want.
Can you let us into the investment profile of your company?
The value of investment of the monitoring agency runs into hundreds of millions of naira in the various places but don’t forget that we also drive investment in Ghana and Cote d’ivoire, when you put all these together, we have invested more than N 800 million.
Advertising spending is huge and media monitoring is added cost to the clients, don’t you think it is a burden on the clients?
It is better to invest N1million naira and get value for N1 million than to invest half a million and get no value at all. Without media monitoring, the chances of getting any value at all are slim. When we started, we told some organizations that we will monitor every kobo invested and they should pay us some percentage from what they saved. But some said they don’t want to save money that they want to keep their brands going. They want to be sure everything that they invest is producing result. That is what a marketing organisation should be doing rather than looking for how to save money.
Kindly tell us more about your company and its USP in this competitive market?
Media Monitoring Services Nigeria Limited is a private company owned by Nigerian professionals in brand management, advertising, research and in IT. We introduced this monitoring into this market, starting from the basis to where we are now. We monitor all media and there is no other competition that is monitoring all media. When I say we monitor all media, I mean that every time we are looking at all the brands in this market and planners rely on us for planning, for pitch and to talk about the industry.
What is the market expecting from MMS Company in next 5 years?
We are planning of increasing point value, improving the opportunities of deriving more value for what clients are buying. Sometimes people see data but they can’t read the data and you know that this tendency is on the increase in our system. We are now developing a next level where every data we put out you are able to interpret, able to pick up insight, able to make greater meaning from it. With this, the media planners are better at home doing what they are doing because they get understanding of what is happening with the media data. The owner of the brand who pays the piper will understand even where his brand has gone wrong, what he can do to improve on it, what he can ask for not just saying I have this N1 billion, give me a plan. That is the futuristic thing and by the time we finish with it, this coming year we roll it out quickly to our other locations, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire and I am sure that it will be an interesting platform for everyone.