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The joys and sorrows of advertising research

Published: 25 November 2010

Every wall on the street corners of Soshanguve was pasted with posters of the 2010 Spring bash to be hosted at an upper-class local pub in the township. Organisers had gone out of their way to make sure that everyone in the township knew about their intention to host the party. However, on 4 September, the day of the event, things did not go as expected. Reikhutsitse Malala looks at advertising.

The joys and sorrows of advertising research
The hosts were expecting about 3 000 youths in the township to attend the event but only 100 revelers attended. Their heads hung down in disappointment as they counted the losses made. One might ask what went wrong with their advertising. They applied the tried and tested advertising formula of the Egyptians papyrus, was this enough? Two kilometers away from venue, over 4 000 youths gathered at an open field to celebrate Spring. Organisers of this particular event made a killing as their tickets to the event were sold out.


Direct Response Advisor, Jim Logan, says companies reach their target audience if they know who their target audience is and where they hang out. In this case, the first party organisers chose the wrong up-class market pub for the youth who would not afford to go into and their advertising strategies were not enough. The second party organisers not only used the papyrus advertising method they also went as far as advertising an youth radio stations and campus newspapers. It is a similar picture with all companies who sell certain products or provide a certain service for a certain community or population. The companies need to publicise their organisation services. It is common practice that the companies would advertise with certain media houses that suit their target market.


Non-Governmental Organisations such as the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF), Audit Bureau of Circulation of South Africa (ABC), have helped make advertising a bit easier as they give insight on particular media houses figures. The ABC defines its services by stating that primary function is the certification and provision of accurate and comparable circulation figures, to assist the bi-partite groupings (advertisers/marketers and publishers) in the buying and selling of advertising and promotional material. This is achieved through agreement or auditing standards, on the certificates and on the reports submitted. The affairs of the Bureau are managed by a Board of Directors, elected every year by the Annual General Meeting. The-day-to-day activities of the Bureau are handled by a permanent staff headed by the General Manager. SAARF, on the other hand says that it is run by the industry; and it carries out its wishes of it. SAARF takes instructions from a council which is set up by members in the media industry who fund the body and take decisions on its behalf.


As Ukhozi FM is considered the leading radio station in South Africa, with six-million listeners a day, one would automatically assume that this station is spoilt for choice when it comes to advertising. However, not all advertisers would prefer Ukhozi as their station of choice, because it does not cover all Living Standard Measure (LSM). In fact, it would be impossible for the station to cover all LSMs. For example, Land Rover would not advertise on Ukhozi fm as the majority of its listeners would not afford to buy a Land Rover.


These figures from SAARF and the ABC have continuously changed the face of media stations in South Africa. Major decisions have been made based on the figures released by these houses. Presenters and DJs have been fired and hired because they either did not meet the demands of the listeners or the advertisers.

The link between the consumer and the advertisers plays a vital role in the development of a media institution. During the opening of YFM’s new studios in Hyde Park, CEO, Kanthan Pillay, told the gathering that the station had to change completely after it looked at its listenership figures and it’s LSM positioning. He says after going through the RAMS they realised that the rich were getting richer and the poor were also getting rich in South Africa. It was from this discovery that they decided to change YFM’s LSM. In the past, YFM used to have ads like Converse sneakers on their station but currently the station is getting ads from BMW, Dial Direct and Jagermeister because it appeals to a higher LSM.


Another modern day example of the impact of LSM is the Daily Sun newspaper. The paper is the number one selling newspaper in South Africa because it was able to tap into a niche market that no other newspaper in the country considered venturing into. The paper chose to go for the lower LSM group of the country and surprisingly, it makes more revenue from newspaper sales than advertisement. No-one believed that such a tabloid newspaper would survive in South Africa, but it did. Like rapper Jay-Z puts it; ‘numbers don’t lie’. Advertisers are opting to put their money where they expect to get a profit back. In this case, phone companies like iPhone would not advertise in Daily Sun.
Advertisers research a media institution first before advertising their products. Although institutions such as SAARF work on estimates, advertisers seriously consider the stats from the research companies. National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) says that the statistics from SAARF and advertisers are ‘donkey-biased’ to community radio stations, and NCRF Chairman, Sonnyboy Masingi, feels that advertisers are pumping their money into the wrong basket, because most of the brands which they are advertised are mostly used in the community. Masingi says that such ads as Omo washing powder are advertised on radio stations which do not cater for Omo’s consumers. “Advertisers should advertise on our radio stations because our listeners consume their products more than consumers in the urban areas,” he said.

SAARF CEO, Paul Haupt, says the figure business for advertisers is so serious it can jeorpodise some people’s jobs. He says that every month the organisation gets criticism from radio stations whenever RAMS are released. He explained that at times, radio stations do not want to accept that they are losing listenership – instead, they accuse SAARF manipulating the figures. He adds that station managers come to his office and complain about the way in which the diaries are conducted.

Although sometimes the figures are contested, they also spark questions about other institutions and many interesting facts are discovered through such research. The recently held stats report of the ABC revealed that governments spend less on advertising during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Government was out of the top 15 spenders during the World Cup. Many questioned why the state did no invest in a tournament that we held so high. The research also found that more and more people were consuming alcohol during the World Cup and during other sporting games. This information can not be used in ways unimaginable and analysed before media placement.
So what do you think about advertisers? Share your thoughts on our blog.
www.mediaupdate.co.za/blog/?b=586



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