So do advertisers find it worthwhile marketing their products on local programming slots? Eve Pennington says they do. And in quite a big way too.
The question of whether local content is more attractive to advertisers than international programming comes down to the programme itself and the audience advertisers are trying to reach. However, if we look at each programme against its core target in order to level the playing fields, local content is most certainly not a poor cousin to its international counterparts.
Government’s mandate for local content, coupled with people’s natural tendency to feel an affinity with programmes that mirror their reality, means that local content is certainly a drawcard for advertisers. One can most certainly see this with particular household television brands like Carte Blanche, Sevende Laan, Generations, and Rhythm City. These programmes deliver current and relevant content in home languages about local market issues.
Local content appeals to South Africans because they can identify with and relate to shows, movies or dramas. Couple this with high quality productions, an opportunity to involve the brand in content, credible hosts, and well-known South African actors, and it is a winning formula that will attract strong audiences.
The age old idiom ’content is king‘ still applies and local content remains among the top performing programmes within SABC TV against SABC’s broad target markets. Although e.tv’s top performing programmes are predominately international movies, many of their soapies and news programmes attract large audiences. Some of DStv’s most powerful assets are local content aimed at the upper income Afrikaans market: the local Afrikaans soaps on KykNet provide an ideal medium for reaching this oft neglected demographic – one just needs to look at the enormous success of Leon Schuster movies to prove that South Africans think ‘local is lekker’.
It is no co-incidence that many local programmes are flighted during prime time (6pm to 10pm). These include South African dramas, soapies, and sitcoms, all of which are relevant, entertaining, and educational, and more importantly, commercially viable.
Commercial viability and attracting the right audience is really the key factor to whether a programme will stay on air these days. With advertisers becoming more and more accountable to deliver on their campaign objectives of reach and frequency, and being scrutinised by auditing firms for their CPP delivery to earn their bonuses, the numbers become the hard currency. Softer criteria such as programme environment may be more open to interpretation and thus familiarity by planners and clients, but this subjective way of favouring programmes is generally the luxury of smaller advertisers with less strict measurement criteria.
Advertising has become a hard game, and when it comes to television planning, planners are bound by the science of the numbers, hopefully overlaid with the correct programming fit for the brand. As such, television stations are expected to trade high quality programmes, whether local or international, if they hope to survive in an ever more competitive marketplace.
Eve Pennington is head of human experience at Starcom South Africa.
This story was first published in the May 2012 issue of The Media magazine.