Interaction Channel: Introducing Nigeria’s Pioneer Ad-Tech Company
By Jeremiah Agada
The singular thing that has impacted human interaction and the way of conducting business most profoundly in the last two decades has been technology, the end of which is nowhere in sight. Every kind of business known to man has had its own marriage with technology, even professions like law, teaching and some ultra conservative businesses that have embraced technology are now changing fast with the infusion of technology into the process. The result? Overall efficiencies have improved as long standing bottlenecks have dissolved. Today there are better appreciation of the processes and revenues have gone on the upswing for those operating at the different points in the value chain.
The media, is one area where the effect of technology has been very profound, specifically the film and entertainment industry. Today, the cinema experience has gone beyond watching the film to being a part of the action on the screen, in a way like never imagined decades ago. Thanks to technology. In the marketing communication space, particularly in Out-Of-Home media, considerable efforts are being put together to make the medium more efficient in terms of audience measurability through the introduction of specific technologies that have been developed after a thorough analysis of the gaps in the delivery process of the OOH media,
Globally, some discerning advertisers have been clamouring to know the performance of their out-of-home media campaign beyond the general to the specifics of the contributions of each location to the overall success of any given campaign. This became a growing concern with the launch of Adwords by Google in the early 2000. The introduction of online advertising has effectively changed the structure of advertising in terms of sales, revenue and the overall process including production. This has resulted, among other things in a consistent tilt in favour of digital communication – advertising and other forms of messaging. This implies loss of revenue in the traditional space in favour of the digital medium.
But what has been the major attraction for advertisers? The digital media is live, interactive, has more reliable measurement over the traditional media. The linear nature of the digital media brings along with it a sense of tracking performance end to end to a fairly large extent.
Interaction Channel Limited to the Rescue
According to Tosan Omagbemi, the Managing Director of Interaction Channel Limited, “To put the whole issue in a capsule, in a larger part of Africa, OOH is growing, but not at the rate it is meant to grow. Why? The supply process, the planning and buying process, the delivery after the buying, the post campaign measurement, OOH internal optimization and the ability for cross media optimization are challenges that need to be understood and fixed with appropriate technology solution. Once this is done, it would be like sunshine to discerning advertisers where significant marketing budget should be channeled.” Meanwhile experts and stakeholders interviewed at different times have lamented the consistent decline in advertising spend on the OOH medium. With the summary prognosis given by Tosan in the course of this interview, one can begin to draw a line of logic.
The kind of solution being introduced to the market informed the name of the company. “On the name, we came together to brainstorm and strategize regarding which name best describes the solution that we are bringing on-board, then came to the conclusion that it should be a solid interaction between the media and audiences. Again, because our solutions are able to cross channels from OOH to mobile, we then decided to go with Interaction Channel.”
The company aims to disrupt how media is purchased as well as bring efficiency into the mix through the pursuit of a vision hinged on shaping the future of advertising media solutions and audience reach across the African continent. To achieve its vision, we have a mission to continually re-invent how brands communicate with consumers, through the use of technology, in order to deliver accurate reach on cross media platforms and experiential services that are all measurable. With its Unique Value Proposition of harnessing human interactions for efficient brand communication through smart technology, the company is focused on innovation to deliver a no-miss consumer engagement.
Tosan, holds certificates in ‘Design thinking for Innovation & Entrepreneurship – Launching your Start-up & Growth Strategies’ from Darden School of Business, University of Virginia and a post graduate diploma in Logistics & Supply Chain Management (NITT Zaria, in-view), speaks more on this. “At Interaction Channel Limited, we do not see ourselves as an agency but as an advertising technology business. What we are here to do is to harness the interactive behaviour of humans who are constantly moving and make sense of it for effective brand communication. Ours is a no-inventory model. So, we are not committed to sell or buy any site except what works for our clients as their interest is our utmost interest.
“What drives us is that age long question and barrier of how do we know we are buying right, how do we know it’s effective and efficient? So, at ICL, our objective is to service the client’s or advertiser’s interest. We are also being very deliberate about this because we are cutting away from scope. What happens is that, let’s say I have a friend that owns a media asset or because I like Oshodi because there are a lot of people there. That does not mean your consumers are in Oshodi. It shows that your consumer is not everybody’s consumer. So, how exactly do you know that your consumers are part of that mix-multitude? Your consumer is not everybody! How do you know they are a larger part of the concentration at Oshodi?”
“What we are doing is removing the wool in OOH campaign planning and management! We are changing the Out-of-Home industry through smart technology and innovation and a data-first approach to planning OOH and Activations in the Offline world.
“What we do at Interaction Channel Limited is measure the performance of your campaigns in terms of audiences reached, site performance and store attributions. We help clients use campaign data to plan and buy outcome-based outdoor advertising campaigns where they can optimize based on your target audience, budget, objectives and billboard type.”
A client for example can say, I want to do a campaign that is limited to Ikeja alone. I can easily get on my dashboard then circle Ikeja and call up every inventory that is there, to see what is available and what is not. I can do a plan based on the objective of the client. We can easily and quickly respond to the client’s briefs because of the automation of our platform. This is an end-to-end automation from raising a proposal, making a booking and even a Media Purchase Order can be issued at the click of a button directly from the system. This will go straight to the media owner. We are very swift by nature. Finally, it is all about efficiency and transparency, so advertisers can plan by their budget, etc.
“Before now, when an advertiser wants to do an outdoor campaign, he calls media owners to provide CDs so he knows what is available. With our solution, we have pushed all that out of the window. On our database, we have inventory of all available and even non-available media assets all in one dashboard. With just a click, a client can see what is available.
“Through collaborations with the advertiser, we are able to help in planning and we are able to measure what actually happens. Beyond what someone actually fills on questionnaire or survey, we can put up signs to it and tell the kind of people reached out to, where they stay and where they work among other information. It can also help in answering questions around if we engaged them and how much engagement they had at the place of activation and so forth. Beyond that, we are also able to progress conversation beyond the event, long after the target audience have gone back to their places. We are able to follow them and generate through Google ad IDs that can be used to further retarget the audiences. That is the connection between where OOH meets mobile.”
ICL’ Solutions To Offline Measurement
To solve the issue of measurement, ICL came up with a novel and innovative solution. Omagbemi explains how the company came up with the solutions. “We did not come to this solution overnight, we have been on this project in excess of two years. I remember while at Media Seal, so much work was done to understand the trends in commuting in Lagos as a case study. As a matter of fact we commissioned field studies before we got to this point. We came up with an initial tool called Media Audience Outlook. It was thereafter that we decided to scale up into having a global partnership with proven track-records in this space.
The solution being unveiled to the market is a 5th Generation cutting-edge technology that delivers real value for Out-of-Home strategy, planning and buying, digital marketing and brand activation. With the introduction of this solution, dynamic media and content planning is now made easy for clients and brands that would leverage on the real-time data that this solution from the stable of ICL offers.
Basically, the solution is a Location Intelligence based solution called Moving Audiences Decisions. This technology developed and deployed by the agency, according to Omagbemi, “follows mobile devices and is able to aggregate data from mobile devices across all the different locations. That data is processed and interpreted into demographics and lifestyle behaviours. That is the robustness of the data ecosystem that we have.
“We are engaging an ever-dynamic audience, so brands that would get the right space per time within the consumer/media ecosystem must employ dynamic solutions which our advertising technology company is all about – Dynamic Solutions for a Dynamic Audience. This is the next phase for brand custodians that would not only deliver their numbers, but be part of the consumers’ play.”
This solution is developed partly on the understanding of consumer movement from wake-up to bed-time, over a period of years in several cities. In fact, a study indicated that consumers spend 70% of their time out of the home. The places a consumer visits are an indication of who they are-likes, interests, and physical path-to-purchase. Yet, we know much more about their online actions because they are always connected even when on the move. This solution can measure offline, these “connected” audiences leave digital footprints everywhere they go. Moving Audiences Decisions aggregates and processes Multiple Sources of Location Data for precision targeting.
Moving Audiences is the Largest Self-Serve OOH Marketplace powered by location that has also brought full automation to OOH planning and buying while also giving advertisers and planners access the largest independent billboard marketplace. With it, the advertiser can customize the number of audience segments based on location intent. It also ensures that advertiser can cut out waste with time-belted campaigns that target the right hours to reduce wastage during low target audience footfall hours. “What we provide is location intelligence. That solution goes beyond traditional OOH media to other non-OOH traditional opportunities including in-mall, etc. We are talking about all places of interest where people gather and there is an opportunity for advertiser to expose a campaign to a consumer. We are able to give you campaign or insights to that solution.”
Giving more insight to how Moving Audiences work, Omagbemi explains, ‘We are able to leverage our platform to do retail analytics and use it to drive efficiency in experiential marketing or consumer-activations. What has happened up to this point in this market is that brands have done activation based on the data available and gut feel. What ICL has brought to the table is providing a strategic technology-driven solution that would make your brand activation deliver more through the use of our location data, due to the high precision level and the depth of fields in our system, beyond scientifically selecting the activation location, we give brands the winning edge by running the system to deliver to you, the recommended days of the week the activation is most efficient.’ Speaking further, Omagbemi said, “The point is that although our solution provides significant support for the efficiency of the OOH medium, ICL does several things among which Activation Optimization is one of them. Omagbemi explains further: “What our solution does is that it helps us to be deliberate. You are precise in marketing or deploying media such that it seems you are specifically targeting a consumer alone. This is in line with one of our core principles which is that we are deliberate, doing only what is in the best interest of our clients.
This solution is not exclusive to OOH alone but to multiple industry verticals. On outdoor advertising, it touches billboard reach, frequency, benchmarking, and store visit attribution. It is also effective in retail analytics as it helps in store visit measurement, planning and competitor benchmarking. The experiential industry is not left out as measurement of its activities and events can be carried out by this solution: conversion measurement, audience profiling and post-event engagement.
“Part of what we have done on ground now is to measure events for certain advertisers and really be able to tell a story about audiences that were at their events, vis-à-vis what the expectations of the planning were. Now, we were not part of the planning of the event ab initio but we were able to measure and take from measurement to conversion what happened, post event.
The technology has been deployed for a few brands in the Nigerian market with precise metrics. What we are speaking is not actually in the realms of theory. It is something we have already deployed. There are local case studies in Lagos, Nigeria of things we have done, and we have been able to demonstrate these to advertisers for them to see. Beyond that, The ICL strongman says they will be willing to partner advertisers and media agencies in deploying this technology.
ICL Partnership With Moving Wall
Recently, Interaction Channel Limited in a strategic move, signed a partnership deal with Moving Walls to further scale up its location intelligence for media and marketing services. The offerings of this strategic partnership provide solutions to the age-long marketing industry need for offline measurement, especially in OOH media. This ICLMW technology solution does not only deliver efficiency and effectiveness, it also delivers big on attribution.
Omagbemi added that this technology lifestyle solution would aid marketers and sales personnel deploy their consumer initiatives with an unprecedented higher level of precision. A robust synergy is now possible across media types, for example OOH Media + Mobile. Brands can now measure, optimize and track campaign effectiveness. Advertisers will be able to customize audience segments and use the understanding of time belt to reach specific audiences.
Speaking in an interview, Global MD/CEO of Moving Walls Srikanth Ramachandran, said: “Advertisers have bought media for so long, it’s time to begin to buy audiences – time to reach your real target audience. We are optimistic that our technology solution would serve as a catalyst for growth.
Moving Walls is a Singapore-headquartered media technology company with presence in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Dubai UAE and the USA. The company operates Moving Audiences, a location intelligence platform that brings transparency and automation to out-of-home (OOH) media via Planning, Buying, Content-Serving, and Measurement tools.”
In 2017, APAC CIO Outlook listed Moving Walls in the “10 Most Promising Digital Technology Solutions Providers”. Moving Walls is also a proud winner of Tie50, a listing of 50 most enterprising startups globally. Most recently, Moving Walls was identified by Unilever as one of the companies most likely to affect technological change in Southeast Asia and Australasia.
Omagbemi says the partnership with Moving Walls is in furtherance of ICL’s objective of availing the Nigerian market only the best solution to the measurability problem. “We were discontented and wanted something that was worth the best in the world and that led us into the partnership that we sought with Moving Walls which its technology for offline measurement is second to none in the world.
“Beyond that, they have tested this technology in at least nine markets in four continents of the world, Nigeria inclusive. Nigeria is the first in Africa but we are expanding it to other markets in West Africa and beyond. They are globally recognized and have won awards too. They are part of top 50 tech start-up organizations. They came highly recommended as a credible organization. Our experience so far working together as partners has confirmed that thinking and position.”
Being a new initiative into the Nigerian market, one wonders if it is affordable and accessible. Omagbemi responds: “This service is certainly affordable. The way we look at it is, today, this technology helps the advertiser to cut down on waste as it provides a more definitive scope to target.
“There are smarter ways to get into the market. What our solution does is to help you eliminate waste, first and foremost when you have this opportunity for precision targeting, then the token you pay to achieve this cannot be compared to the wastage of resources of fund and executive time among other. It just makes economic sense to bid bygone to beating the air. You have huge savings when you take this route. This has been scientifically proven. Finally, the conversation is not the cost, but the value. Moving Audience is very affordable.”
ICL In 5 Years
The future for ICL is definitely looking bright as advertisers as well as media independent agencies and professionals, not forgetting experiential agencies and experts in that sub sector, that will benefit significantly from this technological innovation brought into the market by Interaction Channel Limited in alignment with the global disruptors of the OOH industry, Moving Walls. “This is also in line with our vision to shape the future of advertising media solutions and audience reach across the African continent,” Omagbemi said.
“Our objective in doing this business and finding this solution is to drive growth. We want to grow the IMC industry through increasing the efficiencies and effectiveness of media. We expect to grow too, because the success of the industry is our success. We are here to catalyze this. We hope deliveries will increase, same with media budgets, better deliveries as targeting the audience becomes more accurate, etc. We hope to be able to introduce some other technologies in several areas of the marketing communication sphere or enhanced efficiency and growth of the economy as a whole,” he concluded.