Few days after the introduction of the online vetting system by Advertising Practioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), opposition seems to mounting against it because of its negative effect on small and medium enterprises, SMEs. The new tax regulation was introduced to ensure that the agency does not lose out on the increasing shift of advertisers from the conventional off line media to the online.

According to Mr. Ijedu Iyoha, the Acting Registrar of the council, any brand that intends to put advert online must first obtain clearance from APCON, which requires a fee of N25,000.

However, SMEs and other stakeholders are protesting this new initiative by the advertisers’ regulator insisting that it will increase the financial burden on   businesses. President of National Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NASME), Lagos Chapter, Mr Solomon Aderoju describes APCON’s charge as an outrageous charge. He also lamented the already existing increase in   Value Added Tax (VAT) by the Federal government from five percent to 7.5 percent.

According to him, “Despite the fact that we’re still agitating for the removal of VAT, cost of production is high, in fact this charge by APCON is simply outrageous and all in a bid to make money by making things more difficult.”

Reacting to this charge by APCON in a press release Association of Digital Marketing Professionals (ADMARP), through the President, Mr. Oti Ukubeyinje, said that though APCON’S move is disturbing, it shouldn’t be surprising; they have had enough of sitting and watching billions of dollars go by without getting a slice, so they just had to jump in with their eyes wide shut.”

“APCON currently doesn’t have a submission process or guideline for internet advertising. The guideline requires that all ads must be submitted to the media house with an APCON certificate. The current online platforms (media houses) neither request nor have a means of accepting the APCON certificate.

“It’s simply not built into their advertising process. So APCON needs to first of all align with the platforms on a verification process before chasing the advertisers. It’s like obtaining WAEC result, yet no one asks to see it except WAEC. Very redundant,” he said.

Oti stated that “The speed of things with the internet doesn’t align with APCON and ASPs 2x monthly vetting regime. It simply won’t work, and an accelerated fee of N28,000 (8hours) and N150,000 (15hours) is unrealistic by all means for SME’s with tiny ad budgets.”

“APCON works with partner agencies/stakeholders who have their own regulations which allows for what’s considered pre-clearance or pre-vetting. Key ad platforms (facebook, Google, Opera et al) already have a pre-vetting process and ad policies that are designed with local regulations in mind”, he said

He further reiterated “ADMARP’s position is that if this be adopted, and APCON should do the vetting fee collections directly from the platforms, since media practitioners have been dis-intermediated from the process when it comes to online advertising.”

According to him ” It’s simply impossible to employ the same traditional (offline) advertising vetting procedures to thousands of online advertisers.”

Oti advised APCON to think smarter and get more creative with the process before jumping into serving letters to $5 a day instagram advertisers. He further advised that an updated guideline and fee structure is requited for internet advertising, if at all this vetting will even be adopted.

Printivo’s CEO and Tech Entrepreneur, Oluyomi Ojo took to his Twitter handle to address the Association’s move, According to him, “APCON really needs to give this thing a second thought, we cannot continue like this, we’re in the presence of people who never sold ice block before so they don’t know what it means to actually build a business, but a little empathy would have been enough”.

APCON is the statutory body that regulates advertisements. In the early part of September, the Association announced its plan to regulate online advertisements in accordance with its Article 21 and 80 (a) of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice, Sales Promotion and other Rights.



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