It has just begun but already 2016 is truly proving to be a watershed year for the media industry in South Africa as many developments simultaneously come to fruition.
Yesterday my colleague, Gordon Patterson, assured readers of The Media Online that the Establishment Survey (ES) was “forging ahead, with no issues, no agendas”. Indeed, TNS held a most productive ES questionnaire workshop with a group of key stakeholders. The room was filled with some of the best, brightest and most experienced people in the industry. Given that they were also some of the most outspoken, it was cause for immense optimism that a genuine spirit of collaboration prevailed.
After the years of wrangling and sniping, people left the past outside the workshop door and buckled down to applying their minds to developing the new way forward. It felt like an historic moment, and Jennie Beck, director of media, TNS Global and Kantar Media, confirmed this by pointing out that this will only be the second full multimedia ES in the world. In her view, it is also more ambitious than first, which was undertaken in the Netherlands. (Interestingly, the Dutch survey is also run by TNS allowing us to benefit from those learnings and help us to lead the way.)
While the BRC and PDMSA are funding the ES survey, the Marketers Association of South Africa (MA(SA)) and Advertising Media Forum (AMF) are participating fully in the development of the project. MA(SA) will be funding the ‘Brands and Product’ survey. In an elegant solution, it has been agreed with the funders of the ES that this can be piggy-backed onto the ES, as a leave behind questionnaire. This will allow for the seamless delivery of the data. In turn, the BRC and PDMSA will contribute their input to the Brands and Product survey. While it must be acknowledged that there is time pressure, it is perfectly feasible for both projects to go into field on 1 July.
… some of the larger international media agency groups have been remarkably disengaged from all these efforts to move our industry forward. They remain distinctly inwardly focused…
Excitingly, this month also saw the new RAM diaries go out into field, which will ultimately provide the industry with a 360-degree view of radio listening and a better currency. The BRC remains tireless in its quest to deliver world class research to our industry. The industry now has a TAM panel, run by Nielsen, which the international media auditor Robert Ruud, describes as “well run, well balanced, and a panel with quality levels as good as the standards found in European TAM operations”.
On a lighter note, this year has seen a most significant improvement in the classification of income measurement. After decades of the top income bracket risibly being defined as R16 999+, there are now more sensible parameters.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations has also been busy gearing up to provide multi-platform certifications for the first time. Certification will be available for websites including apps, digital publications and email newsletters. The first results of these new certifications will be for the first quarter of this year.
The transformation of Saarf is also taking place under the auspices of MA(SA) and the AMF.
While this is not intended to be an exhaustive round-up of the developments in the media research world, it does indicate that an immense amount of hard work has been going on. Inevitably much of it is being done by a small group of truly committed people, and interestingly, much of it by the older hands in the business, who are proving remarkable adept at learning new tricks.
However, it seems to me that some of the larger international media agency groups have been remarkably disengaged from all these efforts to move our industry forward. They remain distinctly inwardly focused. Clearly they are working on the modernisation and transformation of their businesses – an exercise which often involves the removal of local old hands to make way for young international talent. In this time of transformation, surely these new and fresh perspectives would certainly invigorate the debates about the way forward. The international media groups have a depth of specialist expertise, on which they good draw to help shape the way forward. These media groups really do need to engage.
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