One of the most laborious tasks that media strategists and planners are required to undertake is the preparation of competitive adspend analyses.
The frequent temptation to delegate the task is usually counterbalanced, among more experienced practitioners, by miserable memories of such exercises gone awry. Juniors through either inadequate supervision or personal application, often produce good old GIGO. When Milton Tshabalala, commercial director: Nielsen Watch, told me that the company had some impressive new software that would lighten the load, I was intrigued.
The new Ad Intel interface has the Harry Potterish name of WizzAd Plus; it also has some significant improvements. It is accessible across multiple devices (e.g. tablet, phone, laptop), via any browser, from wherever you are, provided there is a sound internet connection. You can get the data the way you want it e.g. you can export to Xls, PPT and HTML, APIs, Schedules. You do not have to switch between modules to see different views of the data: clients who subscribe to adspend data and creative data can even access both data sets in one place.
It is truly adaptable: predefined reports make it easy to access the data with a few clicks, but for the more demanding and specific user, the system can accommodate a high level of customisation with multiple variables, calculations and formulas. Having the latitude to add multiple currencies and specific exchange rates, weighting factors and specific templates, is a boon to planners with international reporting duties.
Having the choice to report on either nett or gross rates is a handy solution to a fairly recent industry problem. Being able to preview reports before downloading them is a sensible time-saver, as is the option to automate reports to be emailed directly to selected emails on a monthly basis. The system is designed to be collaborative: reports, layouts, groups and filters can be saved in folders and shared with colleagues. The system allows users to link output to their internal systems, dashboards and databases.
Certainly, this sounded like a step change to me, but I decided to ask some of the users, who have had the training and who are working on the programme on a trial basis, what they thought of WizzAd Plus. PHD’s Howard West, immediately highlighted one of the recurrent issues that agencies face: improved software comes with the downside of having to learn it. As he put it: “The two tools are different systems, thus the switch-over is not easy. They have terms like Systematics, Dimensions, etc that are new and that we have to learn what they mean.” Having made a concerted effort to work with WizzAd Plus as much as possible, he assured me that “it has become much easier to use and the tool is actually very user friendly.”
In particular, West mentioned the WizzAd Plus ability to automatically convert all the figures to either nett or gross, which is a “big time saver, if you are trending spend data”. He also appreciated that data can be more easily exported and used for Pivot tables.
Jorja Buckham, marketing services manager at Primedia Outdoor, was also enthusiastic about the programme, saying, “it’s great because of a number of reasons”. She detailed the advantage of “flexible and detailed analysis” and “no limit to the dimensions that can be included in the analysis”. She also pointed to “the ability to schedule routine reports (which) allows us to instantaneously have access to updated data reports without the added time required to recreate reports. Therefore, we are able to track advertising spend on a continuous basis in a much more efficient way”. Being able to preview the report before downloading and to insert charts in the output before downloading the report were further useful benefits that she identified.
West also referred to Nielsen’s efforts in working to ‘clean up’ the categories and deliver more accurate spend data. Indeed, the company is working with the AMF and endeavouring to make a number of improvements such as extending the database – print title coverage has improved and there is a move to convert to electronic imports rather than collecting hard copies. A much-needed digital adspend reporting project is being tackled.
Data users are often quick to criticise the information they receive, but reluctant to put their share of effort into helping the data collectors get it right. Nielsen’s commitment to responsiveness and the continuous improvement of both the data collection process and the software requires an equal undertaking by users to participate in the process of improvement. On the data side, if users detect issues they should engage with Nielsen, and media owners have a responsibility to ensure that the company is updated on all developments.
WizzAd Plus is still in BETA testing; this is the ideal time for future facing agencies and media owners to acquaint themselves with the programme. As West confessed “change is not always welcome” but he also held out the reassurance that “once I get completely comfortable with programme, it will be a breeze to work with it.”
Having spent some decades working in the media agencies, Britta Reid now relishes the opportunity to take an independent perspective on the South African media world, especially during this time of radical research transformation.