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.


  1. Very nice piece Asoto. been through a few of your pages and i am impressed, mostly in your designs; the Dorcie design is superb. I am a graphic artist and online advertiser in Nigeria who is looking into regular contact with like minds on how to achieve better successful internet presence for Nigerians and thier businesses online. You can make personal contact through Good job.

    1. Akinola, thanks for visiting my site and for the compliments. Its interesting to know that you are in the online advertising industry, i hope we get more acquainted with each other on the interactive web space. cheers

      1. hello Asoto Adeola, good write up. coincidentally, i’m working on a masters degree project in online advertising, presently @ uniben & due to complete my program on by February ending, 2012. i just wondered about ur passion 4 designs, i mean, graphics, with ur background in a totally different discipline. i set up a website as a case study 4 my project, if u don’t mind, have a peep @ sincerely, ur criticism will be highly appreciated. also i run an online biz @ Waiting 4 ur response. Thanks.

        1. Hi kenshobi, Glad you could stop by my site, i also do appreciate that we both share the same your enthusiasm towards design and the online advertising industry in Nigeria.

          I have taken a look at both site, and would say job well done but could be better in terms showing a correlation of online advertising with the site which is the casestudy. Aside from that, thumbs up. Keeping the passion burning. Best of luck with your project.

  2. Great piece Asoto. You really touched on most of the key points regarding digital media in Nigeria. My recent visit to Nigeria confirms a lot of the challenges & opportunities. Still, as digital media usage continues to grow, I expect companies to start taking full advantage & get on board

    My conversation with Marketing executives within the Financial industry was very revealing. Yes, there is a sense they have to do something, but getting buy-in from Senior executives appears to be the main challenge. Also, there is little evidence yet in Nigeria on how investment and efforts on digital marketing impacts the bottom line.

    Nigeria has a young, growing and vibrant online/mobile audience and I’m confident the tide may change very fast and quickly.

    1. Yinka, thanks for visiting my site. It is interesting to note that you agree with my opinions on challenges and benefits in Nigeria. I am getting even more optimistic by the day that Nigerians in the diaspora with experience in this field would come back and invest in the industry very soon.

    2. Yinka, you have really touched the main problem in the digital media usage in Nigeria. Getting the senior executives to embrace the trent and advantages of the online market is something that we all need to work on
      Nigeria is really growing market online and the earlier these people take advantage, the better it is for their companies.

  3. This piece is great indeed. You really captured the real challenges of online ads and actually resolved the nightmare. Good job.

  4. Hello Adeola,can’t believe this great piece has been online for such a while and I haven’t stumbled on it before now.Anyways,glad I did today,twas such an enlightening piece.Please, as some of your readers I am carrying out a research on Advertising in Nigeria and would want to know the biggest players in the advertising industry.

    1. Thanks for the reply. I am glad you benefited from the article. With regards to your research, From recent observations, the major players/spenders in online advertising in Nigeria currently should be those playing in the eCommerce industry as it has seen tremendous growth in the past few months. Others players includes multinational FMCG’s.

      I would recommend your research focus on the eCommerce Industry in Nigeria, how it has evolved over the years, their annual budget on budget on online advertising in relation to the use of traditional media.

  5. Adeola, tnx for this wonderful write up, though written about 3 yrs back but still very informative. It gives me a good knowledge of the what i need for my start-up. Thank u

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