BusinessDay

Tajuddeen Adepetu advances media, technological ideas with Group 8

Imagine viewing a piece of advertisement and it feels like you are being spoken to directly, experiencing just the things only you would like to hear, see and feel.

In the near future, brand ads could become so personalised that you would find them tailored to an individual’s specific preferences and unique desires.

ViralPro, a Nigerian media tech startup, owned by media mogul Tajuddeen Adepetu’s Group8, appears to be chasing this technological idea.

While the name Group8 might not ring a bell at first, it is good to know that it is the recent amalgamation of two successful Nigerian media businesses that were founded and headed by Adepetu.

In its latest quarterly report, Adepetu reports that Group8 beat expectations even as budget cuts rocked the media industry amid the unprecedented economic impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Adepetu said the vision for Group8, a pan-African enterprise that employs over 500 staff across Africa, was to fully lean into tech as the key to unlocking the biggest promise of the media industry on the continent. One of such ways by which he is doubling up on tech is ViralPro.

The premise of the new start-up in the view of Adepetu is to execute, in a precise fashion, brand messages that have a high chance of being liked and shared millions of times by the target audience.

In social media and digital marketing terms, messages who achieve this objective are said to have gone “viral.”

While some might argue that virality is an elusive goal to aim for, Adepetu contends that there is indeed a system for consistently scoring viral hits.

“American YouTube creator, Mr. Beast (Jimmy Donaldson) and Nigerian Instagram sensations Mr. Macaroni (Debo Adedayo) and Twyse (Abraham Ereme) as creators who, despite the supposed unpredictability of virality, are able to produce viral content from time to time,” he said.

“Virality is a science and it can be leveraged in multiple ways across media, broadcasting and tech,” Adepetu says.

Beyond viral content, however, Adepetu intends to lead the way in personalised content via Group8. With the group’s media assets, which currently includes 12 television channels, six terrestrial radio stations, six digital radio stations, and 12 experiential platforms, he reckons that it not only has the assets to reach audiences across a wide spectrum of tastes; it also possesses the resources to lead the charge into the next phase of broadcasting.

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Some of the most recognisable media brands in the Group8 portfolio include Soundcity TV and Soundcity Radio, OnTV and ONMAX, Correct FM and Correct TV, Spice TV, Urban 96 FM, Access 24 Radio and TV, and the Made in Lagos Festival.

Adepetu believes that each one of these assets, as well as the others, is capable of filling audiences’ educational, news, entertainment, adventure, and religious needs in bespoke ways.

Commenting further, he noted that for so long, broadcasting has been designed as a generic experience for groups, hence, the mass media. However, “TV is changing. If you think about it: what is even TV these days? The days of having to come home or sit in a fixed location to receive TV programming are long gone. TV management needs to follow new technology and new consumer behaviour.”

To Adepetu, who started his career as a jingle producer in the early 90s when the systems were very much analogue, there is now a great opportunity for producers, actors, musicians and others who are involved in the broadcast value chain to optimise their talent and resources to reach a larger audience, whenever and wherever.

According to Adepetu, “To build the media company of the future, we have to ask what the dream is, what the purpose and mission of a media company today, and what the trajectory of change for the industry and the society?”

“For us at Group8, we have been here for over thirty years and we understand that if we are to be here another 30 years, we cannot expect to do so, using the same systems and strategies we’ve always known, especially when everything around us is screaming change,” he said.

Adepetu may be onto something, especially with this line of thought. With the democratisation of digital technology for media consumption, it appears that the time is near when all Television will be on-demand.

Netflix, the global streaming company that is currently valued at about $380 billion, is a proof of that concept. It recently integrated artificial intelligence (AI) for content recommendation – such that while two Netflix users might have access to the same roster of movies and series, each user’s home page feels like a completely different viewing experience from the next person,” he added.

Adepetu believes that more people will gravitate towards content that are both available on-demand and curated for them, based on an algorithm that responds to their feelings, tastes, and past behaviour. This is why he is rolling out Group8 as a lifestyle and media-tech company. He would not want to rest on the laurels of his three decades of award-winning scripted programmes, branded events, and digital channels.

“While it may seem like a new thing that we are doing with tech and media in Group8, this has quite been my philosophy over the years; innovation and acceleration in business and passion. I have been around long enough to make the switch from radio to TV and back to radio, and I have kept on evolving, every step of the way.

“With Group8, it is no different, and the good news is that the audience is even more dynamic and inventive. If you look at the history of some of the world’s long-established media companies, many of them have had to go through much bigger changes,” Adepetu said.

For media companies of the past, the speed of these changes might have been comparatively slower than what we find now. Media companies of today need to be quick on their feet to make relevant changes. For example, Netflix which was founded in 1997 has already gone through a series of transformations to be where it is today, and it remains ever-changing.

From creating some of the most memorable shows on Nigerian TV to growing his enterprise into the largest independently-owned media corporation in West Africa, Adepetu may now be ready to completely change the meaning of mass media in Africa.