President Buhari’s secret war on free speech 

Sodiq Alabi, Communications Lead at Paradigm Initiative writes that free speech by the Nigerian media industry is being suppressed under President Muhammadu Buhari 


One of the biggest news websites in Nigeria went offline late October and has remained unavailable since. Here I refer to naij.com, a website that has repeatedly ranked among the top ten most visited websites in Nigeria for years. I hate to be the harbinger of bad news but I must inform you that many internet service providers in Nigeria have knocked Naij and dozens of other websites off the Nigerian online space for weeks now.

According to available evidence, the blockade of domain names of Naij and others was at the behest of the federal government. President Muhammadu Buhari, born-again democrat and lover of free speech, scored his biggest coup against the media and the country is quiet. Shutting down naij.com in Nigeria is on the same level as stopping Punch from distributing its newspapers in the country. By now, the whole country would be drowning in a media-induced frenzy on the issue.  How exactly has a democratic government managed to shut down one of the biggest media houses without setting off the media’s advocacy machine?

This is what we know so far. On November 3, 2017, ITRealms, an online news site, reported that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission ordered a company (name withheld) to block the domain names of some websites that are deemed inimical to the Nigeria’s national security. According to the memo dated October 20, 2017, and signed by Haru Al-Hassan and Yetunde Akinoloye, the Office of the National Security Adviser prepared the list of twenty-one erring news sites. The list is a who-is-who of “pro-Biafran” websites. However, the NSA apparently considers Naij as pro-Biafra, hence the addition of the online media juggernaut to the list.

On November 5, 2017, Nigerian Tribune released a report on the development, essentially corroborating the report of ITRealms. Tribune went a step further and quoted copiously from the NCC memo. In Tribune report, we learnt that the NCC issued the directive to telecommunication companies relying on Section 146 of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act 2003 to have the websites blocked.

“Immediately Paradigm Initiative learnt of this development on November 6, we went to work and ran copious tests on the domain names of the listed websites. We reached out to a source at Naij and asked why their website was redirecting us to a new domain name naija.ng. The source, who is not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, said, “The website was shut down by the Federal government. We are currently running on our backup platform- naija.ng”.”

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Immediately Paradigm Initiative learnt of this development on November 6, we went to work and ran copious tests on the domain names of the listed websites. We reached out to a source at Naij and asked why their website was redirecting us to a new domain name naija.ng. The source, who is not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, said, “The website was shut down by the Federal government. We are currently running on our backup platform- naija.ng”.

It is important to note here that the implementation of the blockade directive has not been uniform. Testing Naij.com on November 6 in Lagos via MTN and Swift, we were redirected to naija.ng. However, since yesterday, November 15, the naija.ng has itself been unavailable when using Swift in Lagos. As for the other websites on the list, sixteen of the websites are still available in Abuja via Spectranet as at November 16, while only three of them are available in Lagos via any of Swift, MTN and Smile. Others using other service providers in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt also have similar observations. Outside this country, all but two of the 21 websites are online. This means that while internet users are having issues using these Nigerian websites, others outside the country are able to use them seamlessly. We encourage readers to also test the websites and communicate their findings to us via hello@paradigmhq.org.

We have issued two press statements on this issue and have since written a Freedom of Information Act request to the Nigerian Communications Commission. In the request, we asked the Commission the following questions: Is the Nigeria Communications Commission or any of its agents in the process of taking steps to block or restrict the domain names of certain websites? If yes, what websites would be affected? What criteria were employed in selecting these websites? Under what legal provision is this being carried out? As at the press time, the Commission has not responded to our request.

On his part, however, the Honourable Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu categorically denied any attempt by the federal government to block the domain names of news sites in Nigeria. This is what he told Tribune: “I am sure NCC will never ever write such a memo. I am sure it never happened. President Muhammadu Buhari or any of the people working for him will never do or encourage anything that will amount to gagging of the press.” Is it that the Commission is engaging in this censorship activity without carrying along its supervising ministry? This would not be the first time a ministry would not be aware of what an agency under it is doing. It is also possible that the minister was not being truthful to Tribune.

What really matters to us at this point is the precedent that the Buhari administration is setting by arbitrarily blocking Nigerians from accessing news sites of their choice. As we have said before, blocking the domain names of websites is a brazen violation of the right to Freedom of Expression as guaranteed not only by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also by international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory. The Federal government has a duty to protect free speech and not curtail it.

Unfortunately, the Buhari administration has not been shy about its ambition to “regulate” free speech. It has repeatedly pontificated about the danger of hate speech and why online speech especially must be regulated. President Buhari himself is no stranger to censorship and media clampdown. When he was Nigeria’s military dictator in the 80s, he promulgated the infamous Decree 4 that saw to the jailing of journalists and closing down of media houses. Has Buhari changed since 1984 or does he still see critical speech as dangerous speech that must be fought to a standstill? The next few days or weeks would tell us.

What does this development mean for digital rights in Nigeria? If the government can just wake up one day and restrict access to a website, what does that mean for the digital economy? What does that mean for democracy and Nigerians’ ability to criticize the government and mobilise against an administration they do not like? Does that mean that a website of an opposition party can be blocked in 2019? Nigerians should ask their government why they cannot access Nigerian websitesthat are available for access outside these shores.


*Sodiq Alabi is the communications lead at Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African digital right and inclusion advocacy organisation. 

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Buhari: ICT will be major change driver for Nigeria

Text of speech by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria delivered Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja.


I am delighted to be here today to witness the commencement of the 2017 e-Nigeria Conference. The theme of the event – “Fostering a Digital Economy Through Local Content Development and Effective Regulation” is apt, coming at a time when we are intensifying our efforts at economic diversification, and ICT has a critical role to play.

My presence here today is a demonstration of our commitment and strong belief in using ICT as a major driver of our developmental governance and economic reform plans aimed at bringing about the true CHANGE we promised our people.

ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy. Currently, almost all sectors of our economy leverage on ICT to increase efficiency, productivity and performance.

“About 80% of ICT hardware purchases are imported through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments. This makes it difficult for us to benefit from the dividends of continuous procurement and consumption of ICT infrastructure and limited value retention within the country.”

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

 

The sector has recorded huge investments and contributes over 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we are making conscious efforts to see that this contribution continues to grow in the next few years.

About 80% of ICT hardware purchases are imported through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments.

This makes it difficult for us to benefit from the dividends of continuous procurement and consumption of ICT infrastructure and limited value retention within the country.

As the most populous country in Africa, there are huge opportunities for ICT manufacturing in Nigeria. This, when harnessed, will provide job opportunities for our teaming (sic) youths, enhance the quality of locally produced infrastructure, reduce cost of acquisition and increase government revenue.

There is, therefore, the need for deliberate efforts, both from government as well as the private sector to see to the realisation of this. I urge you to come up with viable recommendations on how we can make the country an export hub for ICT hardware in Africa.

We have done a lot to transform our government especially in the areas of strategy, policies and digital infrastructure investments.

You may recall that on assumption of office, we enforced the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA). Today, we are all witnesses to the impact it has made on our financial management.

We have so far consolidated over 20,000 accounts, resulting into about N4.7 billion monthly savings. In addition the policy facilitated transparency, accountability and ease of transactions and payments between Government and businesses as well as Government and citizens.

“Another initiative leveraging on ICT and making huge impact on the economy is the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Bank Verification Number (BVN). Its implementation has helped to eliminate the menace of ghost workers thereby reducing waste in the system by saving government over N20 billion monthly.”

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Another initiative leveraging on ICT and making huge impact on the economy is the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Bank Verification Number (BVN). Its implementation has helped to eliminate the menace of ghost workers thereby reducing waste in the system by saving government over N20 billion monthly.

This administration recently issued an Executive Order mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services.

Analysis: Nigeria Cybercrimes Act 2015: What are the issues?

Such measures are part of the deliberate efforts at encouraging local manufacture of ICT infrastructure, creating job opportunities, providing investment opportunities as well as strengthening our currency. We commend NITDA’s efforts on fostering the patronage of indigenous IT products and services through continuous engagement with indigenous OEMs, relevant stakeholders and other laudable initiatives.

ICT plays a pivotal role with agencies of government such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) which have leaned on ICT in improving public service delivery in an efficient and transparent manner. So far, 31 reforms have been completed by the Council and these reforms are already making noticeable impact on our economic diversification efforts.

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

Cross section of activties at the event where President Muhammadu Buhari delivered this speech Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

The Agency’s efforts at enforcing Federal Government’s directive on ensuring that all ICT projects in the country are cleared by it before implementation are highly commendable. These efforts will ensure that government’s ICT procurements are transparent, they are aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy, save costs through promotion of shared services, avoid duplication, ensure compatibility of IT systems thereby improving efficiency across government and enforce the patronage of indigenous companies.

In this respect, I hope this conference will come up with practical, viable solutions and recommendations to further develop local content in ICT as well as how we can best regulate the deployment and use of ICT systems to foster a digital economy in Nigeria.

As I declare this Conference open, I thank you very much for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations in the course of the Conference.

I look forward to studying conference conclusions and recommendations.


Text of speech by President Muhammadu Buhari delivered Tuesday November 7, 2017 at the opening of the 2017 eNigeria Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja.

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Privacy of Nigeria Telecoms Users | Regulator’s perspective

By Professor Umar Danbatta

T[/dropcap]echnological advances give insights into what constitutes consumer’s needs, wants and behaviours. Businesses collect data in order to deliver personalized services to meet consumers’ yearnings and behaviours. However, as technologies become more intelligent and intrusive, there is an increasingly higher risk of consumer’s personal data being misused or compromised.

The Federal Government through some of its agencies – Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), INEC, FIRS, etc. had implemented various initiatives that warranted the collection of citizens’ personal data. Such initiatives include the SIM card registration, National Identity Card registration, New Vehicle License regime, BVN, Voter’s Card, Tax Identification Number (TIN) and a host of many others.

Developments in the telecommunications industry have also led to a large growth in various telecommunication services and a corresponding rise in the number of subscribers.

The Federal Government’s efforts to increase Internet penetration via the deployment of broadband and the move for the adoption of cloud services makes it crucial that the security of citizens’ personal data and privacy issues be critically looked into.

NATCOM must pay, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman at NCC, insists

Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

The Federal Government’s efforts to increase Internet penetration via the deployment of broadband and the move for the adoption of cloud services makes it crucial that the security of citizens’ personal data and privacy issues be critically looked into.

It is therefore imperative that appropriate enabling laws need to be enacted side by side with these initiatives, technologies, and services, while at the same time efforts should be geared towards trimming and harmonizing the warehousing of personal data in order to enhance security and accountability.

Some countries have put in place laws to protect their citizens’ data and privacy, while some are in process of putting finishing touches to theirs. These laws will be used by these countries and they will affect citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether or not there exists one within their own countries.

With appropriate enabling laws, infringements on citizens’ rights and privacy as it relates to personal data can be curtailed.

The Main Issues at Stake:

The major concerns, which are by no means exhaustive, can be listed as follows:-

Ø Concern about possible breaches to collected personal data such as – unauthorized access, misuse, identity theft, etc.

Ø Inconveniences faced by citizens in having to go to different organizations to register and provide the same set of data.

Ø The need for agencies and organizations to provide convincing assurances that these personal data are hosted or kept in secure locations.

Ø Abuse of users’ privacy via unsolicited messages or calls in the form of advertisements and the likes.

Possible Solutions to Address these Concerns.

There are some existing policy documents that may need to be revisited / reviewed:-

Ø The National Information Technology Policy, which stressed the need for the enactment of a Data Protection Act.

Ø The National Data Protection Bill which is yet to be passed, is itself full of inconsistencies and omission of certain vital aspects and does not fully address the main concerns.

Ø The Industry has established a “Do Not Disturb” registry via the service providers; Consumers have the right to demand that certain calls/messages do not get to them.

From the Commission’s Perspectives, the following are proffered as directions:

Ø It is necessary to put in place a deliberate policy/mechanism (or review related existing ones), that will specifically focus on protection of citizens data and privacy.

Ø An Inter-agency and Multi-stakeholder working group should be established. This will ensure that the various views and opinions are taken into consideration in the development of the necessary framework for data protection.

Ø Data aggregation and harmonization would need to be considered; as this will ensure that a citizen’s data captured by one organization is available for use by any other authorized agency that requires same records, without having the citizen go through the process all over.

Ø The process of harmonization should include a clear definition and identification of what is considered personal data.

Ø Generally, the data protection framework should take the following into consideration:-

ü Collection, Classification and processing of Citizens’ data

ü Storage and Retention of Citizens’ data.

ü Access and Use of Citizens’ data.

ü Transfer of Citizens’ data.

ü Disclosure and Publication of Citizens’ data.

ü Aggregation of citizens’ data.

ü Penalties for clearly spelt out breaches.

ü Etc.

Conclusion.

The development of the framework proffered above, should be focused towards building the much needed trust between users / citizens and the agency (or agencies) that warehouse the aggregated information and data.

The equity considerations and the nation’s reputation should also be paramount.

In the global context, this would help cross-border transfers of information and strengthen Nigeria’s position as a trusted business hub.

Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) made this presentation at Kano Freedom Forum (KIFREF) organised by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).

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Digital Switch Over | Nigeria broadcast regulator on the road ahead

By Is’Haq Modibbo Kawu


Democracy is premised on the powers of the people of our country and an institution like the NBC, operates consciously on the basis of laws that were fashioned out to protect the Nigerian broadcasting landscape in the most patriotic manner. It is this consciousness that continues to guide our operations. The main issues that necessitated today’s press conference include matters arising from the DSO process; as well as the fundamental issues that we raised during our stakeholders’ forum last month.

  1. DSO:

As you are all aware, we successfully carried out the Abuja Switch on in December 2016. As I have informed you in the past, the Abuja switch on is the definitive beginning of the journey to conclude a national Analogue Switch Off (ASO) and a Digital Switch Over (DSO). I am very happy to share some of the interesting statistics of the Abuja switch on with you.  From our launch on December 22nd, 2016, 251, 447 STBs were sold in Abuja. In the same period, 145, 357 boxes were activated; our call center received a total of 325, 028 calls in the same period.   The next phase is our plan for the six states that we have chosen to switch on. As I address you today, Pinnacle Communications Limited has commenced the installation of the facilities for Kaduna. I was there to inspect the work being done at the weekend. Our colleagues can go to the site on Rabah Road, in Kaduna to verify that work is advancing very rapidly there. They have also concluded plans for Delta and Gombe states, while the second signal distributor, ITS, will similarly mobilize into Kwara, Enugu and Osun states.

I will also like to inform you that we have commenced the settlement of ALL indebtedness arising from the contracts awarded in respect of the DSO. We have effected payments to the Set Top Boxes manufacturers. Settlement of their monies came to about Five Billion Naira. The next phase of payment we are processing is what is due to the DSO BACKBONE group, our Signal Distributors, ITS and Pinnacle Communications Limited. These payments would help our various stakeholder groups to meet their obligations as well as deepen commitment to the entire effort to achieve a nation-wide DSO.

LICENSE FEES:

At our stakeholders conference with broadcast organizations, I had informed stations of a persistent pattern of refusal to pay license fees. Stations around Nigeria owe the NBC over N5Billion.  Even the statutory act of informing NBC, six months before expiration of licenses and signification of intention to continue as licensees is willfully ignored by stations. While every licensee is aware that EVERY license issued by NBC is PROVISIONAL and could be withdrawn at any point, stations carry on as if they OWN those licenses and can do as they pretty well please. License fees are in arrears; there is no plan by many of these stations to pay; while some even have the temerity to write NBC, the regulatory institution, that the amount they are obliged to pay is too much; consequently, they then tell us how much they are willing to pay, and even adding the time they are going to pay such sums that they have decided to pay. In truth, a pattern of gross indiscipline and misbehavior has been central to the relationship which many of the licensees had established in the past with the NBC. There are those who used political connections with the top most political leadership of Nigeria in the past, to get illegal and undue favours, that run contrary to the NBC Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. That is the only way they have operated and it is the way they know. But this is a new era, at the NBC and in Nigeria.

Let me re-iterate that ALL outstanding sums owed the NBC WOULD be COLLECTED! We gave a time line of March 15, 2017, for ALL stations owing outstanding license fees to effect payment. After consultations, that time line is being extended to March 31st, 2017. I want to affirm that AFTER March 31st, stations that refuse to meet their license fees obligations to the NBC, would be closed down! Period! After we have collected outstanding license fees, stations would then be requested to turn in their Annual Reports for us to carry out the obligatory assessment of what constitutes a percentage of the Annual Turn Over that they are also OBLIGED to pay the NBC. Let me re-assure our colleagues that we do understand that these are difficult economic times in our country, but that cannot be justification for not meeting lawful obligations. Some of these license fees were due even before the economy entered a recession; it means that they had refused to do the right thing even in a period of economic normalcy.

LICENSES REVOCATION:

Over the past two weeks, I gave directive that the licenses of 54 companies that were issued licenses but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window, be revoked. And those licenses are revoked! There is another list of over 120 licenses that were paid within the mandatory period but were unable to come on air, within the mandatory TWO YEARS; they are also being processed for revocation. And they will be revoked! Frequencies cannot be held indefinitely by individuals. We are delighted that Nigerians are investing in setting up radio and television stations; they create jobs; open up accesses for content producers to showcase talents and are contributing to national development. But no one has a right to hold on to allocated frequencies indefinitely, when the resource itself is finite and there are other people waiting and ready to make use of those frequencies.

FREQUENCY INTERFERENCES:

One of the very serious issues facing us today is the clash of frequencies all over Nigeria. City-based FM radio stations are permitted under the terms of their licenses to install 2KW transmitters. That way, it is possible for NBC to repeat frequencies in various cities around Nigeria. But what has been happening is that stations go to purchase and install transmitters beyond the power that they were initially allocated. So the normal pattern of illegality we are witnessing in Nigeria, is for licensees to purchase transmitters with 5KW; 10KW; 15KW power. A licensee even installed 30 and 35KW transmitters! While a powerful politician in the Southwest installed a transmitter beyond the power allotted him; went on air before NBC had given him approval and when our engineers visited the station, he set his thugs to chase away workers who were doing their lawful duties! Again, that was an experience from the impunity of the previous period in our country. Those acts of impunity are NOT acceptable in the present dispensation. To be civilized is to live in a law-governed society! Over 90 of such transmitters installed beyond capacity have been identified across Nigeria. Consequently, we have given ALL stations that installed such transmitters SIX MONTHS to procure and install the transmitters they were lawfully licensed to broadcast on. After the grace period, NBC would de-commission ALL transmitters that flout the law.

We are going to hold an interactive session with all owners of such transmitters very soon. Similarly, we have also written to the Nigerian Customs Service, for NBC to re-commence the process of pre-inspection of all imported transmitters into our country. That was the process in the past; that way, we can control the importation of these transmitters. There is also a national security issue involved. There are mobile transmitters being imported by non-state, secessionist groups, who are using these transmitters to broadcast anti-national, propaganda, as part of their effort to de-legitimize our country and propagate hate as well as secessionist propaganda.

HATE SPPECH:

Another point of concern for us at the NBC is the proliferation of hate speech and the profiling of the other: the other religion; the other ethnic group or the other region! These are serious issues that must concern all of us in the media. NBC is doing a major study of hate speech and we are hoping to put new elements in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, that address hate speech. Freedom of speech is central to democratic culture. People have the right to robustly debate their country and its governance values. But there are boundaries beyond which no democracy can tolerate and hate speech belongs in that realm. The use of phone-in programming formats has been one of the most abused formats in Nigerian broadcasting today. It is very easy to set up but is also very easy to abuse. Our licensees must exercise a much more robust editorial control of the phone-in format, because of the tendency to cross boundaries of slander; hate and indecency.

SUNDRY ISSUES:

Other issues that worry us include the abuse of regulation in respect of the installation of Aviation Warning Light (AWL), that many stations have refused to install on their masts. They endanger all of us, and directive was issued for all our offices to monitor that these are promptly installed. Refusal to install AWL is enough ground to close down a radio station. In the same manner, we have given stations till the end of March 2017, to install Off-Air Recording facilities. This is mandatory!

On a final note, I will like to re-iterate that NBC is committed to the highest standards of broadcasting regulation in our country. We will do everything to assist the growth of our industry; we will continue to provide the ambience for the flowering of broadcasting in our country. But we would never tolerate a regime of impunity; refusal to obey the law or being cavalier with licensing issues, especially a prompt payment of license fees. The practice of going to the Aso Villa to seek black market endorsements for illegalities will not work in the current situation in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari believes in processes and he would not help any licensee to flout the NBC Act. This is the reality of the new situation in our country. Change is real!


* Kawu, Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), made this presentation at a press conference in Abuja.

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Mobile Marketing | Communicating smartly with thumb generation

By Neelam Biirthare

As soon as I was born; my parents posted my pictures on social media. All of a sudden I was a star on Orkut, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram. The name of their family groups and friend groups changed to “New-Baby Born”, “Congratulations Eric”, on Hike, WhatsApp and WeChat.

Inside my cradle, I was under a holy shock; What the heck does this thumbs-up sign mean? Now when I am used to this dynamic, digitally-sound human society, I have realised that I was a child born to the thumb generation parents!

Probably this could be the way, how our children will introduce their novels. Welcome to the world of mobile-first generation. In 2017, it is merely impossible to imagine life without smart phones, gadgets and a virtual identity.

On an average people have 20 mobile apps installed on their phones. 96% of smartphone owners use their devices to get things done. 70% of these populations (those) who bought something from a store, first turned to their smart devices for information related to their purchase. As a marketer, if I am still not on mobile then I am missing out on a market having huge purchasing potential.

On an average people have 20 mobile apps installed on their phones. 96% of smartphone owners use their devices to get things done. 70% of these populations (those) who bought something from a store, first turned to their smart devices for information related to their purchase. As a marketer, if I am still not on mobile then I am missing out on a market having huge purchasing potential.

A lady seen looking at a smartphone the AWIEF 2016 event in Lagos

A lady seen looking at a smartphone the AWIEF 2016 event in Lagos

Using mobile advertising, it is easy to access customers anytime and anywhere. Here lies a massive opportunity to impress them and make money or create a poor image by poor advertising. The question is what attracts this thumb generation audience? How to grab their attention? What drives sales on mobile?

To answer all such questions, here are some key points to be kept in mind before advertising to this “like-follow-chat” generation of the mobile-savvy world.

Innovation Begets Money:
Innovation is not only driving money, it steers brand image, fame, and loyalty. People are attracted to new ideas, new products, new methods of advertising. Native ads, Video ads ruled the market for long and are still having a huge market, but advertising is totally redefined by vlogging: a blog with a video, influence marketing and other new concepts such as virtual reality and near-field communication. Innovation attracts the audience and hence money.

Your Focus: Not Technology but Customer:
Mobile advertising is less about information but more about the way information is communicated. Almost all the smart marketers of the millennium are aware of the holistic view of a customer journey. They put their customer first. Understanding the intent and immediate need of your audience and catering it in the right context results in better ROI from the digital marketing efforts. The thumb generation is curious and smart enough to do a lot of research before making purchase decisions. Thus, focusing on their needs is still a key to good advertising.

Data collected by a screen lock app suggest that an average person unlocks his or her phone to check it 110 times a day. Some check it up to 900 times.

Technology Times file photo shows people seen taking selfies on a smartphone at a phone lauch event held in Lagos

Technology Times file photo shows people seen taking selfies on a smartphone at a phone launch event held in Lagos

Feed the Digital Hunger:
According to psychology today, 56% of Americans who own a smartphone are having some form of mobile addiction. Data collected by a screen lock app suggest that an average person unlocks his or her phone to check it 110 times a day. Some check it up to 900 times.
It sounds strange but it is even stranger if one fails to use this moment of opportunity to make an impact on the audience’s mind as a very powerful medium having great potential to drive sales is being left underutilized.

Key Takeaway:
It’s the age of “Intellectual Advertising.” One needs to understand that at the end, effective marketing communication is all about connecting with people and influencing their behaviour.
With technical advancements and new features such as offered by MobiVisits, Google analytics, Smaato; not only brands but even small businesses can benefit and make the best use of mobile advertising. Technology is an aid that will help to accomplish this goal of making an impact on the human mind at the perfect moment of time.

  • Neelam Biirthare is PR Manager at MobiVisits

 

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