The Publisher Research Council’s Josephine Buys checked in with South Africa’s industry research bodies to find out about their state of health, and what’s in store for 2020.
That there has been upheaval in South Africa’s media research bodies over the past few years is no secret. It should not have come as a surprise to the media sector. After all, ‘disruption’ has long been the buzzword across the board, from publishing to broadcasting and out of home.
At the same time, consumer demographics changed, and users began questioning the integrity, methodology and scope of audience research. The National Association of Broadcasters resigned from the South African Advertising Research Foundation in 2013, citing the need for reform in line with the ever-changing audience profiles of broadcasters, and which responded to the dynamic electronic media landscape in South Africa. With the broadcasters’ exit went a significant amount of funding. In April 2016, the last All Media Product Survey (AMPS) was released, and SAARF’s existence as the body that serviced the media sector for over 40 years was over.
Of course, the ripples spread rapidly across the audience research industry and before long, the whole face had changed. By the end of 2016, we had entered a new era of audience research. There was the Broadcast Research Council (handling the Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS), and the Television Audience Measurement Survey, TAMS), the Outdoor Measurement Council, dedicated to delivering new research currency for the out of home sector. An Establishment Survey was in the works, and the Publisher Research Council (PRC) established in 2015, was measuring platform agnostic reader behaviour while developing new, modern models for audience research currency.
Aligning the competing interests of the broadcast industry (as represented by BRC) and the publishing industry (as represented by PRC) a new research model has been heralded as an outstanding achievement by veteran agency man, Gordon Muller.
The PRC PAMS 2019 15 000+ sample will be launched early April 2020 followed by several fusions throughout the year to give media planners deep and current insights to inform their strategies. Due the popularity of PAMS Brands Fusion (People, Products & Platforms) with over 3 000 brands across all industry sectors, the PRC plans to produce a further study early 2021.
Change, the disruptor
Change is itself a disruptor, and the media sector’s reaction to so many far-reaching changes hasn’t been uniform by any means. This resulted in the formation of a new body, the Media Research Foundation and a replacement for the AMPS, known as MAPS, which is a consumer insight survey. It was designed around the products, brands and intermedia needs of marketers and their agencies, and aims to provide single source insights on consumer, media and brand interaction. We asked the MRF for further details on the MAPS rollout, but had not heard back from the organisation in time for this report back.
As far as users of the research currency go, Celia Collins, CEO of Amplifi in South Africa, says she would like to see a more united front in terms of industry JICs and their outputs. “We should all be singing from the same hymn book,” Collins says. She adds that while the research is “fundamentally good”, she suggests the industry “take a hard look at itself”, to talk about segmentation, and the impact big data will have on it. “The LSMs are out-dated, will the SEMs take their place, or will there be a new kind of research for South Africa?” she asks.
That said, the fusion approach is a game-changer. “The arrival of data fusion on the South African media research scene, thanks to the PRC and Nielsen, has been an exciting milestone: it has demonstrated how the value of data can be dramatically enhanced to give advertisers an expanded understanding of their consumers’ behaviour,” says independent media consultant, Britta Reid.
“It has also suggested a vista of opportunities for combining consumer, product, services and media data to dramatically increase the effectiveness of the data.”
Reid says it has “manifold advantages” including being cost effective, convenient and kind to respondents. “But it is important to remember that not all data sets are natural candidates for fusion. The samples of the data sets that are to be fused need to be reasonably well matched, and there needs to be well matched linking variables, which are predictive of consumer behaviour,” she says.
On to the Establishment Survey
Meanwhile, discussions have been taking place around the Establishment Survey. Gary Whitaker, CEO of the Broadcast Research Council, reveals that numerous sessions with both technical committee members and board members of the BRC have taken place in order to discuss the future of the ES, and collaboration with other industry bodies has been tabled.
“Our members believe that the BRC, as an independent, objective, transparent and accountable industry body, has an obligation to ensure the future of the ES in order for it to serve as the base survey for all industry studies and currencies going forward,” Whitaker says.
“The approach cannot be rushed. The direction that the BRC will be taking in terms of the ES is one of consideration, transformation, future proofing and innovation. To this end, a full RFP will be carried out in 2020. The RFP will be open to both global and local suppliers,” he adds.
At the same time, he points out that much work needs to be done on the RFP brief to ensure that the methodology and output of the ES is future focused. “The spirit of the ES going forward is one of inclusion rather than exclusion and the RFP will be aligned to this,” he says.
Some exciting news is that the BRC is in the process of negotiating a fusion of TAMS with the PRC’s PPP study. “We will therefore include elements such as products and brands and digital consumption into TAMS,” says Whitaker. At the same time, a RAMS audit is being carried out to “enhance the study in terms of scope and methodology”. Whitaker says improvements can and will be made as it becomes more difficult to gain access to the upper end of the market via face-to-face methods. “A hybrid methodology is key to the future of audio measurement. We are currently exploring passive measurement solutions as well as panel measurement solutions,” he adds.
Measurement of DOOH
Over at the Outdoor Measurement Council, general manager Trish Guilford says the year has started with a bang – and 10 new members, bringing the number of roadside panels for the industry to plan against and to get results for, to over 7 800. Guilford says from a usage perspective, the OMC’s Quantum software is available through Telmar, and has 30 users including media owners and media agencies.
“Our most exciting project for 2020 will be the implementation of analysing digital out of home panels (DOOH). Worldwide, the evaluation and working out of the reach of DOOH is an issue with people taking the total reach of a panel or a traffic count and dividing this by the number of ads in the advertising loop. This is not accurate, as travel speeds, dwell times, and a number of other criteria need to be taken into account when working out an accurate result,” she says.
Guilford says Kuper Research has been working tirelessly for the past three months to investigate all avenues on “how we can get all the pieces of the puzzle”. She says by March, the OMC will have an interim, manual solution, to work out individual DOOH panel results. “The view of course is to have the algorithm built into the Quantum software but at least we are keeping up with the rest of the world in this area of research.”
We have visited a number of media agency leaders and influencers over the past few months. Their call is for a more open, inclusive and communicative approach to media and marketing research, and this now forms a key part of the PRC’s 2022 Vision strategy, which will come to fruition over the next two years.
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