THE WRITING ON THE WALL

Nigeria 2015 | TELECOMS, IT & MEDIA | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eng. Bayo Adio, CEO & Managing Director of Optimum Exposures, on innovative advertising media, keeping up with changing consumer tastes, and the key advertising sectors in Nigeria.

Eng. Bayo Adio
BIOGRAPHY
Bayo Adio first joined Optimum Exposures in 1995 as an Operations Controller. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, a seasoned engineer with many years of practical work experience, and has also been a consultant for a number of years. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a Member of both the UK Institute of Civil Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, as well as an Associate Member of the Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria. He has chaired several committees and associations, and is currently the Chairman of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria project committee.

How does technological advancement help in terms of your company's innovativeness?

Innovation has taken us to where we are today. Over the years we have pioneered products that have been able to engage and interact with advertisers and consumers. We were the first to pioneer the largest freestanding billboard in Africa, at 1,200 sqm. Currently, we also have the largest freestanding digital platform in Sub-Saharan Africa. The digital platform of about 510 sqm is more than just a billboard. It is a platform that you can tweet on, as well as send dynamic messages, and scroll messages. The platform also displays the current time and temperature. It is highly interactive and engaging, and is earning numerous accolades in the industry. We were not the first to go into the digital out-of-home displays, so we did not have the first-mover advantage. Without that, you face numerous challenges. To engage the customer, you need to target the audience as consumer tastes continuously change. Our focus is not only on the competition, but also on targeting brands like Google, Comcast, or Facebook.

There is a huge problem here with power supply, and innovation requires a lot of power. How are you dealing with the power issue?

There is, indeed, an issue with power. The government has privatized the power sector, but the problem persists. Our digital sign is always on, and is powered for 19 hours every day. There are two 250 kVA generators on that site, and there is also a transformer for direct power supply from the National Grid of PHCN. This incurs huge cost, but such are the circumstances.

What is your client profile, and how are their needs and expectations evolving?

The market contains the prominent segments of telecoms, FMCG, banking, and the breweries, and we are in business with all of them. In some cases, a client may prefer exclusivity to sharing the platform, which requires deep pockets. This is why it is so important that we remain innovative, as innovation allows you to determine your price, and elevates you beyond the realm of the mere commodity.

How difficult is it to get the kinds of permits you require to operate in this segment?

The permits and approvals to erect some of these installations vary from state to state. The regulator in Lagos is the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) and apart from being our regulator LASAA also levies taxes. So the balance between regulation and proceeds is there, as are the permits. What happens is that if you have a location in mind, you apply to the agency, which guides you through the processes and procedures for approval. The location could be private or it could be on the highway, for example. After you apply, there is a joint feasibility inspection. What I can say is that the agency responsible for regulating our industry is open to innovation.

This has been specifically about Lagos, but you are also present in Abuja and Port Harcourt. Could you elaborate on your operations there?

Whatever starts in Lagos will eventually spread to the rest of the country. There is the Department of Outdoor Advertising & Signage (DOAS) in Abuja regulating the Federal Capital Territory. Regulatory agencies operate in all states. We are a nationwide company and have a good relationship with the regulatory agencies. We have identified the commercial hubs of Nigeria, which are Port Harcourt, Lagos, and Abuja, and those are the areas where our regional business units are located.