Online Advertising in Nigeria: overview of trends, challenges & benefits

Over the years Internet marketing has evolved in Nigeria. According to Africa Internet Usage and Population Statistics, internet penetration in Nigeria is now 28.9% at estimated 43,982,200m users and as a result, owing to the huge marketing potentials inherent in digital media as a part of the overall marketing mix, coupled with the increasing use of the internet by Nigerians, brands are seeking to hire agencies (tra-digital agency) with in depth knowledge of the digital marketing and how to use them to maximize media spend (ROI).

In the Nigerian landscape, marketers and their clients are becoming aware of the need and underlying effects of online marketing, the trend has started to build where agencies ignorantly advise clients to use banner ads and display ads for campaign on facebook, yahoo, local news and entertainment sites, as opposed to looking critically at what the clients want to achieve and advising them on all the various digital marketing platforms available and what each of them can achieve and how to use them.

Based on the facts above, it is pertinent to ask if digital marketing/ online advertising is important for Nigeria?

In answering such question is noteworthy to state that digital behavioral changes of the Nigerian consumer is evolving rapidly due to accessibility and sophistication of mobile phones.

According Nigerian Communication Communications (NCC) Nigeria has over 75 million active mobile phone lines as at March 2010. The factors that contribute to this is a result of the growing middle class with disposable income, TV viewing habits are changing due to lack of time and the Facebook and Twitter generation is also on the increase. If about 60% of Nigerians are below 25 years, there is the need for brands to pay attention to this trend in their marketing approach.

Also media consumption is changing too, the rise of convergent technology, social media is growing, consumers online is growing rapidly because the internet makes their lifestyle easier as they tend to shop around more because they have access to several other points of information, they use the internet to research before committing to purchase, are early adopters of technology and do have a world view. The next logical step would be e-commerce but in Nigeria, skepticism still exists around making online payments even for savvy individuals.


According to an industry source (MMS 2009), Total Ad Spend in Nigeria for 2009 stands at over $400 million, with digital media accruing less than 1% of this spend. Despites huge leaps in ad spend and mobile operators in Nigeria, digital media spend was still negligible compared to other mediums.

If these are true, can we continue to do just what we did in the past and expect a different result?

It is also of noteworthy to state that some agencies don’t even measure display ads for client, measuring ads makes it possible to know which website is working for the campaign and removing the website performing poorly in the campaign thereby confusing the clients most often. This points to the fact that in Nigeria, we have very few specialized digital marketing agencies/consultants that do offer professional services, as a result affects the output and results got from test campaigns thereby making organizations think of online advertising and interactive marketing in Nigeria as ineffective.

CONSUMER VIEWPOINT: It requires customers to use newer technologies. Low-speed internet connections is another barrier. Also, if companies build large or over-complicated websites, individuals connected to the Internet via dial-up connections or mobile devices experience significant delays in content delivery.

BRANDS VIEWPOINT: After careful observation of the online market scene based on survey from few marketing executives, the following are barriers to entry for large companies looking to market online: insufficient ability to measure impact, lack of internal capability, and difficulty convincing senior management.


With this projected growth of internet penetration in the country forecasted, there is the need for digital marketing campaigns to be carefully planned and executed in line with the objectives of key performing indices (KPI) clearly spelt out. It is of utmost importance to develop an effective internet marketing strategy by pondering over what the company is trying to achieve by answering questions such as:

1. Does the company want to communicate news?

2. Is it to build a corporate identity?

3. Is it to distribute marketing information?

4. Does it want to provide a live information source?

5. Does the brand want consumers to purchase/find best buys?

6. Does the brand want sell, auction, or perhaps get people to call?

On the basis of these would benefits be derived for online advertising. Against the above, it is therefore necessary to highlights benefits to both agencies and brands respectively.

BRANDS/CLIENTS: The following highlights potential benefits to brands/clients, which includes; consumer involvement and interaction, brand engagement through content creation, media accountability, measurability and effectiveness, customer relationship management.

AGENCY: The benefits to agencies/marketers includes; effective advertising approach which creates synergy between diverse media, higher margins – increased innovation and development of unique services and tools, more robust planning platform – using strengths of traditional media to drive awareness to digital touch points, creates a point of differentiation amidst other agencies.

It is therefore noteworthy to state that online marketing for Nigerian brands should move beyond awareness and fulfilling all righteousness, rather it should be about engagement; a reason to notice, a reason to stay with your consumer because Nigerian brands cannot ignore the power of the internet. In order to achieve a strong corporate presence, the first step is to consider the brand’s internet strategy by identifying the overall goals of the business, as this is the case in all  business and strategy planning.

Once you have planned your overall strategic goals, you need to decide how your online internet strategy can complement your off-line plans. An internet marketing strategy should include: specific business goals, objectives for internet activity, and a programme of actions that will achieve your business goals, benchmarks for measuring achievement, a business model – what it will cost and what it will achieve.

Lastly, digital media should be used in a complimentary role alongside traditional media in the real sense of integrated marketing communications to achieve better results.