Photograph — Make Money

According to a recent survey, only 30 per cent of Nigerian businesses are aware of privacy laws governing their marketing activities, despite the existence of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR). The survey, conducted by WorldWideWorx and commissioned by global technology company Zoho, also revealed that although businesses are concerned about the privacy of customer’s data in the hands of third-party vendors, they are reliant on them for revenue generation and gathering customer insights. This makes it harder for them to move away.

Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of WorldWideWorx, said the lack of awareness about the law is largely because these regulations are not part of business-critical activities like taxation and licensing. 78 per cent of the businesses surveyed indicated that they have well-documented policies for customer data protection. “This is likely following fear of NDPR violation, which has made headlines in Nigeria,” said Goldstuck. Even so, only 60 per cent are strictly applying them.

Third-party trackers and ad platforms

Of the 319 businesses surveyed across various industries, 45 per cent said they allow third-party trackers on their website, mostly to share content on social media (62 per cent) and gather analytics on their website visitors (35 per cent). There is also heavy dependence on digital ad platforms. The respondents believe that keyword search ads (59 per cent) and social media ads (52 per cent) are quite effective for customer conversion. 78 per cent of businesses said the third-party ad platforms either help them meet, or are a primary factor in achieving their sales goals.

Given this reliance on third-party vendors, it is no wonder that although 85 per cent of businesses express concern over the use of their customer’s data, they are largely either ‘comfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable with the platforms. The 18 per cent who are ‘uncomfortable’ indicated that they cannot do away with the platforms as they are crucial to their business or that it is too complex to retreat from. Interestingly, 24 per cent of businesses reported that they do not completely understand how third-party trackers and ad platforms use customer information collected.

Privacy report by Zoho

“When businesses choose to use a free tracker, they are paying for it with their consumer’s data,” said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager for Africa, Zoho. “At Zoho, we refer to this practice of third-party trackers collecting data without user knowledge as adjunct surveillance. Presently, Nigerian businesses turn a blind eye to this passive data collection by trackers, most likely because they are dependent on them for revenue. However, consumers will eventually trust companies with transparent privacy policies that protect their personal information. Businesses hoping to stay relevant long term will need to either rethink their reliance on third-party platforms or demand greater transparency and accountability from them.”

 Zoho removed third-party trackers from its website in 2020 and has never sold customer data to anyone or shown ads, even with their free products. Zoho also owns its data centres and the entire technology stack of its solutions. Therefore, it can assure its users of the highest standards of privacy and security.


Nigerian businesses believe that NDPR has had either no effect (39 per cent) or a positive effect (42 per cent). Their biggest concerns with the law are increased complexity (36 per cent) and the increased cost of governance (34 per cent). According to Goldstuck, the cost of governance will be a major concern for SMEs.

 For context, all businesses in Nigeria, regardless of size, need to appoint a privacy information officer to oversee the protection of customer information. Larger businesses can appoint their CIOs or IT leads in this new role, while smaller businesses may have to appoint their managing directors or business owners in the same role. For smaller businesses, this can be a daunting task as the person in charge can be held personally liable for data leaks or breaches under the law.

 About Zoho

With over 50 apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back-office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho Corporation is one of the world’s most prolific software companies. Zoho is privately held and profitable with more than 9,000 employees. Zoho is headquartered in Austin, Texas, with international headquarters in Chennai, India. 

Additional offices are in the United States, India, Japan, China, Singapore, Mexico, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates. Zoho respects user privacy and does not have an ad-revenue model in any part of its business, including its free products. More than 60 million users around the world, across hundreds of thousands of companies, rely on Zoho to run their businesses daily, including Zoho itself. 

This study was conducted using Zoho Survey and Zoho Analytics.

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