A year ago the National Association of Broadcasters resigned from the South African Audience Research Foundations (Saarf) sending shock waves across the marketing and media industries. Is the dust settling on the biggest rift in the sector in recent years? Sandra Gordon reports.
Over the past 12 months the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has, to the apparent satisfaction of marketers and media agencies, revamped Television Audience Measurement Survey (Tams) to bring it in line with global best practice. A tender is out for Radio Audience Measurement Survey (Rams), the IAB SA is inching its way towards research into digital media and two leading players in out of home have launched an ambitious research pilot. Despite protestations from some quarters, JICs are popping up all over the place.
But what of All Media Product Survey (Amps), the establishment survey with print and brand data bolted on to it?
Earlier this year industry players called on research supplier AC Nielsen to provide a detailed cost breakdown for the Amps survey. Media researchers with an understanding of the technicalities poured over the numbers, before giving the thumbs up and enabling the print and broadcast sectors to continue discussions for the roll over of Saarf into 2015. The print sector is under financial pressure and the supplier may be asked to negotiate their costs down to enable the roll over of Amps into 2015.
Chair of Saarf, Virginia Hollis, reports that her meetings with NAB and Print and Digital Media SA (PDMSA) have been positive and “the two bodies are collaborating really well…so I have no doubt that they will resolve the funding problem by the end of August”.
Even so, Saarf’s ongoing operational costs will need to be met shortly and NAB in particular has made it clear that they are unwilling to contribute. The print industry is yet to make adecision in this matter. And the marketers are unlikely to. So the future of the 40-year-old Saarf remains in the balance.
The root cause that created the rift a year ago was the make up of the Saarf board. Broadcasters pushed for greater representation due to their significant financial contribution to the levy used to pay for the research. Reports suggest a spat amongst certain strong minded individuals at the Saarf annual general meeting, then followed up at meeting of the Marketing Association (read the full story here) caused the matter to balloon and a year of friction and confusion followed.
The financing of Saarf will prove a challenge to their long suffering board. If the broadcasters can see a way clear to opening negotiations on the formation of a new body this should pave the way, but no one is prepared to bet on the NAB agreeing to this.
Perhaps a strategy document setting out a framework for a future independent body or how the JICs would co operate with the entire sector may provide the basis for further discussion? Whilst word on the street is that the Advertising Media Foundation (AMF) may have plan of their own, marketers who were outspoken regarding ownership of money remaining in the levy collection pot, have been quiet of late. The idea mooted by Saarf at some point during this debate was that marketers requiring brand research would in future need to pay for the privilege.
It is a guessing game and Hollis is unsure of Saarf’s future, suggesting she may be clearer on this point “by the end of August”.
The dust continues to swirl.
Sandra Gordon is CEO of Wag the Dog Publishers, publisher of The Media Online and The Media.
IMAGE: Sahara dust plume/ NASA/ Wikimedia
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.