Mr. Kayode Shobajo is the Chief Executive Officer/Chief Technopreneur of Adplus Software Company Limited, a subsidiary of HiiT Plc. In this chat with Financial Vanguard, he talks about Adplus360, an online advert placement portal and how advert agents stand to benefit from the portal. Excerpts
What is the portal all about?
Adplus Software Company Limited is a subsidiary of HIIT and we have Adplus360 portal to which Vanguard has signed on. We recently trained Vanguard freelance advert agents on how to use the portal and we are happy with Vanguard. The Adplus360 portal enables all advertisers using IT via the internet to advertise in media houses that have signed up on Adplus portal. The adverts are prepaid and that’s crucial for media houses because of credit issue. As it is, we have trained all other relevant staff of Vanguard. Right now, Vanguard is running live on Adplus360.
We have made several commercial adverts on banks through Adplus360. The freelancers are relevant because they are like agents to Adplus, meaning that in addition to using Adplus to advertise in Vanguard, they can equally advertise in other newspapers without going to their offices. It is not limited to freelancers alone, we have graduates who wish to do same. All they need do is go to www.adplus.ng/adp to register and they will become members after meeting the requirements. Then they can start operating despite the fact that they are not freelancers or agents to any newspaper.
How long have you been in operation?
Vanguard signed on late last year and we started commercially two months ago. Adplus360 is our own innovation and we own the patent. We have invested a lot of time and resources over the last six months, waiting for the environment to be right. It’s an ICT product and before now, people were not very comfortable with doing things online and payment solutions were not as friendly as they are today. So we had to wait for the buy-in of the society to attain the level it is right now. So, people are getting comfortable with digital ways of doing things.
What challenges relating to advertising are you trying to address?
Before Adplus360 came on board, whoever wanted to advertise will have to call the Advert department of any media house, follow through with the people and look for how to pay. The client could possibly visit the office and all the physical movement associated with advertising in a media house. But as it is now, from your computer through Adplus360 portal, you can do all that. In as little as three to five minutes, you are done with your advert, pay the media house and they have accepted your advert as good to go. As soon as the media house accepts that the advert is good to go, the money moves to the media house and that’s why it’s prepayment.
Otherwise if they owe me and I am sending advert to Vanguard, even Vanguard will not like it. What will be Vanguard’s gain? So now, without knowing Vanguard’s Advert manager for instance, I can go to Adplus360 portal and send my advert from there. Let’s say that I am in Abuja or outside the country, and I go to Adplus portal to advertise and follow the process, in maximum of five minutes, I am done and Vanguard has its money. Let me give a simple scenario of the convenience that Adplus360 provides for people. For instance, if I want to do a change of name as a woman, I don’t have to call anybody. I will just go to Adsplus360, follow the process and it is done. I don’t even have to become an Adpluspreneur, which means an agent of Adplus360.
So the problem we have solved is the clumsiness that was associated with the physical flow of things in advertising and people that want to put public notices in the papers getting to the media houses. Adplus360 serves all categories such as self- service users, our own agents whom we call Adpluspreneurs and advert agencies including media houses.
They can use the convenience of Adplus360 to get to media houses that have signed up with Adplus360. But right now, the significant media house that has signed up is Vanguard which is why we are bonding with Vanguard to say ‘Take advantage of this opportunity before others sign up.’ Vanguard has an advantage in Adplus360. All over the country and beyond, anybody that has access to the internet can go to www.adplus.ng and advertise in the paper. Vanguard by this very act, has offices anywhere there is internet access so the paper can advertise that it has offices all over the world now because internet is global and intensive. You may not be able to imagine the quantum of commercial activities Vanguard is going to have when that information goes public. Vanguard has now taken ownership. However, people are still looking and saying, ‘Adplus360, what will it do? Will it take our jobs? And so on.’
That is why we had to come and encourage the freelancers. We told them that it’s a change which time has come and they must just become part of it intelligently as against sitting on the wall and watching before other media houses sign up. We have limited number of targets, it is not as if it is open ended and everybody can become an agent of Adplus360 at anytime. We have a ceiling because we want it to be rewarding to those who joined first. We want them to know that they cannot wake up from their slumber at anytime and just join saying that after all, there are no closing barriers.
How are adverts censored against libelous materials?
Adplus360 does not take away the duty of Vanguard from Vanguard. Vanguard still accepts all its adverts. The way the technology is designed is this, when I place my advert, the advert manager or the assistant gets an alert that somebody has placed an advert. They go to the portal themselves, either on their smart phones or their desktop, open and accept it. The advertiser then gets the feedback and alert that the advert has been accepted. So Vanguard’s job is to check that it conforms to its requirement. If it is an advert that needs certification, the person must equally upload such certificate which the advert manager or whoever is delegated to check and confirm that it is certified.
So it is the job of Vanguard to accept. What the portal does is to process. If Vanguard does not accept, there is option to reject. So when you reject, you have to reject with a comment because if the advert gets back to me and there is no comment, I will think that it is a mistake. Until Vanguard accepts, the money will not digitally switch to Vanguard because they have not transacted any business.
In cases where adverts or public notices could be libelous, Vanguard can allow us to activate her lawyer’s number in an email in a manner that he can open it and clear before advert people accept but that is subject to Vanguard policy. What they are doing right now is that they download it, consult the lawyer for his opinion before accepting it. We have a functionality to even let the lawyer see it first. If a public notice is of this nature, the first person that clears it will be the lawyer and then the advert manager does the general check.
Won’t Adplus360 take away business from advert agents?
Let’s understand the flow for adverts. There are three channels. Channel one is as a self- service, just like I am paying for my DSTV. I just go to a DSTV website and pull down the bouquet I want and off I go. But DSTV too still has agents and offices where I can go and pay if I choose.
Now the freelancers are relevant to our second channel which is the window we opened for agents. Instead of making them lose their jobs, we are expanding their opportunities because they don’t need to be agents or freelancers of Vanguard alone, they can be that of other newspapers when the media houses sign up.
The advantage is that they don’t have to be coming to Vanguard office everyday because once you get the job, you log into the portal and process it and you pay the money upfront. And Vanguard gets her money and you get yours. Some of the concerns of advert agents are about instances where advert clients won’t pay upfront.
The question then is, how are you resolving that right now? Since you have been relating with the advert manager and other staff, any issue you have on the field, relate it with them and they will settle it for you. And the freelancers have advantage because they have worked and are still working while an Adpreneur can only source for a paid advert. The Adpreneur cannot discuss with the advert manager because he doesn’t know him. So rather than displacing them, it is entrenching them.
If you don’t embrace digital revolution, it will disgrace you. We just felt that we owe them the duty of knowledge sharing; that was why we gave them the training. We told them, ‘you have been hearing it, you think we are coming to compete with you? No. You can take a corner piece position right now and begin to show others.’ So this partnership will benefit Vanguard that has taken position quickly and I am painting a scenario where in terms of change of name adverts, there is going to be a boom. When we do online and other adverts, what we will get to see is that most change of name will come to Vanguard because it is not important which paper the change of name is done once it is a national paper.
The convenience of the easiest way to put the advert in a media house when you go online and you see Vanguard, you just tick it. So Vanguard will be surprised at the volume of change of name coming from everywhere. It is convenient, easy to use and they are the only one there for now, bingo. So it is not taking business from agents, rather, it is making them to become richer. It is not just for advert agents only, anybody who has a first degree can become and Adpluspreneur.