The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) which is responsible for the regulation of advertising in Nigeria has recently been seen to have sent out letters of notice to business owners who participate in online advertising. The letter is sent out to inform the recipient that their online advertising material was not vetted by the Advertising Standard Panel. The cost for vetting each social media advert goes for a huge fee of N25,000.
According to the governing body, all brands in Nigeria are to “fulfill all necessary obligations” set by the body before thy proceed to place any advert on any digital space which includes all social media platforms and websites. This new law also ensures that if an advert would be published in different languages or different models would be used, then the brand has to pay for each version of the advertising material.
Due to the high cost of placing adverts on outdoor and indoor media there has been an increase in the use of digital media. Young entrepreneurs and new brands have found a cost-effective way to reach their audience who are predominantly online by going to where they are. Adverts are now being ran on various social media platforms and websites. This gives these brands the ability to reach their audience without spending so much on advertising through the traditional means of advertising. Although the court of appeal has ruled against this in time past APCON still tries to bring this fruition.
The new law by APCON would ensure that all business who run adverts on social Media would pay a sum of N25,000 to get their adverts vetted. This also includes the 3 weeks waiting period and If a business would like to accelerate the process, they have to pay a sum of N120,000. Startups who operate from the comfort of their bedrooms, tables of their kitchens and parent garage with their PCs and smartphones because they cannot afford a physical office space are now expected to pay that sum per adverts. In a country where the vast majority, about 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, representing about 80 per cent of the country’s estimated 190 million population according to the African Development Bank. Where is the money to pay going to come from?
This new law would disrupt the ability of small and medium scale business to advertise their products on various platform. For a catalog of products which involves 12 products an entrepreneur has to pay N25,000 per advertising material. The entrepreneur would still have to pay for the promotion of that post alongside influencers in order for the advert to reach a wider set of people so customers can be gotten. How much does one make from individual sales to be able to afford this bill placed by APCON?
A lot of Nigerians have taken to social media to complain about this new law saying it is extortion and not reasonable. From the proposed increase in VAT from 5% to 7.5% and now the new law by APCON, SMEs are convinced that everything in Nigeria is staged to make them fail. This new law would hinder businesses from advertising on time thereby losing to their competitors who are big in the industry and can pay for the fast vetting of their advert. The prices of goods and services would go up as businesses have to find ways to afford their new bill.
A small business with a budget of N30,000 can run an advert for a month with the advert containing at least three different concepts. With that amount a startup can reach thousands of prospects and make a reasonable amount in sales and patronage. APCON new laws would set this business at least N70,000 more and for small businesses this can be considered a fortune.
Another disadvantage is that small businesses cannot make use of conversations in trends to make adverts/ sales anymore. Trends like other thing change with time but trends tend change faster. An advertising material which takes about 3 weeks to be vetted would definitely be out of trend when it is time for it to be used by the brand. This goes to say that Nigerian institution don’t understand how small businesses function and APCON does not have full knowledge about online advertising or they just choose to be deliberately ignorant to the facts.