PHD’S Merge: A Publication Closing The Technology Gaps

From Right: Wayne Bishop, Managing Director, PHD Johannesburg, South Africa; Dozie Okafor, Managing Director, PHD Nigeria and Victor Oyarero, Business Unit Director, PHD Nigeria at the launch of PHD’s 7th publication titled MERGE at the 2018 Social Media Week in Lagos.

By Azeez Disu

The seamless interaction between humans and technology is changing the way businesses now operate globally with the likes of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and others. In this regard, Ray Kurzweil forecasts that “By 2019 computers will achieve human levels of intelligence.”

Truly, technology is shaping the marketing landscape, the launch of “Merge: The Closing Gap Between Technology and Us”, a publication published by PHD, a global communications planning and buying agency with a presence in Nigeria is a move to bridge the technology gaps among brands, marketers and their customers.

Merge made it grand entry into the Nigerian market recently when it was unveiled at 2018 Social Media Week Lagos.

The publication explores the urgent implications for marketing and reveals exciting new opportunities for brands. Significantly, it identifies what should be done now in order to prepare for the future.


Speaking on the publication, Dozie Okafor, Managing Director, PHD said, “Merge is about closing the gap between technology and us, it will make marketers and advertisers be aware of the possibilities and how their roles will be changed in the future.

“For instance, we have media planners that plan media for clients, we are going to have a space that Algorithms are going to start doing these plans, therefore planners’ roles are going to evolve into Analysts and into the person that analyse Algorithm and plan those algorithms. It is about being aware that in not too distance future; your roles are going to change.”

He added that with the advancement in technology, the way people will shop will also change “The Way people will shop will be different, the way people will interact with technology will be different, and the implication on health care and buying from the supermarkets are going to change, so marketers need to prepare for it.”

PHD Merge Book

Merge Filling The Gap

Merge revealed how technology and human evolution has progressed since the 1950s and what the world will look like over the next 25-35 years.

At the launch in Lagos, Wayne Bishop, Managing Director, PHD South Africa and one of the Co-authors of the book revealed the five stages of the evolutionary path between 1950 and 2050, and how the book explores a future where consumers will connect with technology.

Merge also explores the urgent implications for marketing and reveals exciting new opportunities for brands. Significantly, it identifies what should be done now in order to prepare for the future.

If screens disappear and brain-to-brain communication does take over, what would that mean for advertising? The industry has always relied on interruption, so would ads start to be delivered directly into the brain, interrupting thoughts or emotional state? Or would marketers pay to position themselves to be front-of-mind (literally) when someone might be most receptive to a particular product?

Drawing on insights and foresight of experts including world-leading inventor, author and futurist (and writer of the foreword) Ray Kurzweil, Facebook COO; Sheryl Sandberg, futurologist; Dr Ian Pearson and Microsoft chief envisioning officer UK Dave Coplin, Merge discusses the five stages of the evolutionary road, between 1950 and 2050, culminating in technology and humanity fusing together both symbolically and literally.

Explaining the reason for the introduction of the book in the Nigerian market, Okafor disclosed that “This actually our seventh publication and for every publication, we are exploring a different field of thought leadership and marketing and its implications.

“This for us is probably the biggest and best book we have ever written because it talks about an aspect of human life that affects all of us, not just marketers. The book was launched a couple of months ago but we felt it was important we have a proper formal presentation about this  “Merge” with the general public and to also position PHD as a thought leader in the industry.”



PHD’s Technology Deployment

Revealing PHD Nigeria’s deployment of technology, Okafor stated that the agency leverage on technology in ensuring that its client achieves great result in its brand building activities.

“One of the things we have done is, with every single strategy we put forward for our client, there is one innovative approach which leverages technology. We have got the idea of using Geo-positioning to target specific consumers with a specific message, you can call it programmatic advertising but it is a bit of Geo-positioning as well because it works with triangulation, we are able to geo-tag certain area and when people walk through they are able to serve them a certain ad.

“Assuming I put Geo-tag at every single Chicken Republic in Lagos, once you walk within a certain radius of the Chicken Republic you get a certain ad that you can buy two Chicken Sticks and get one for free, for instance, in the way of marketing to people, that is one application. Those are the kinds of things we are beginning to think around and also recruiting people that have that mindset of evolving, innovative.”

In addition, he stated that the agency has a strategic partnership with Google and Facebook.

“We already have a working arrangement with Google and Facebook because we do buy ad space and serve ads through their platforms. So, it is really about us integrating and collaborating with them as we go forward. Be rest assured that whatever Google innovate in the western world will quickly be replicated across the globe. I think it’s really based on our partnership with key vendors like Facebook, Google and any other technology company that is willing to look into that innovative space.”


The Future

The book revealed that much of the work traditionally carried out by a planter will now be handled by machine learning or artificially intelligent reinforcement.

Also, the role of creativity will also change. With a large percentage of standard ads being created by AI, the focus will turn towards top funnel brand expression.

Speaking on the state of technology advancement, Okafor cited that Facebook and WhatsApp are taking a giant stride. According to him, “Take for instance what Facebook is trying to do with WhatsApp, we will get to a point where through WhatsApp, you can interact with an actual advertising material and you can shop directly. You already see the implication on e-commerce where you can actually shop online but now it takes it a shop further where you can interact.

“Brands now need to lash into that space where they are and beginning to understand consumer behaviour and your search patterns online and start to suggest to you what you need to buy. That has real-world application even in Nigeria as we speak,” he said.





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