With regard to yesterday’s blog on the vicissitudes of politicians who won’t take their own medicine, I would like to conclude my narrative with the following observation:
Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams QED
In the memorable words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that, because that was then, and this is now.
Yesterday after GIBS Institute outstanding Flash Forum with Abdullah Verachia, I highlighted the need to concurrently manage the Now and Next as the catalyst for thriving in an economically and socially disrupted landscape. One wonders then, why so much of our orientation in media is entrenched in the past. The Then? Like AMPS.
We bemoan the loss of AMPS because it made life simpler for us. The truth is that AMPS was obsolete because it was dedicated to measuring what people did yesterday (Then) in order to explain what they are doing today (Now), rather than embracing the new reality of measuring what people are doing today (Now) in order to predict what they will do tomorrow (Next).
We’re in the change business folks and change doesn’t do reverse. That’s why in advertising, when it comes to talking about Then, you should never trust anybody who is older than you, because they will always tell you that the best party ever was the one that happened last week. The one you missed. The reality is that the best advertising party ever, is the next one. And that’s entirely up to you to control. That’s the mindset we need to inculcate, not this lamentable yearning for a lost Golden Age.
Over many years the Media Manager Media Inflation Watch (MIW) has been the definitive media cost-performance benchmark. The release last week of the full MIW 2019 dataset has been understandably overshadowed by the enormity of the #LockdownSA crisis. Unfortunately, it is outside the scope of this narrative to go into the minutiae of the more technical aspects of the report’s metrics, but at a glance we can see some interesting points emerging.
In 2019, the average all media advertising rate declined YoY by -2.4%. This is the first time in over 25 years of Media Inflation Watch that advertising rates have showed an annualised YoY decline. This reflects that twin reality of a significant slowdown in advertising investment, and also the diverting of marketing budgets from traditional media into digital platforms. The PWC Media & Entertainment Report 2019 estimates internet advertising at 17,5% of investment, but anecdotal evidence puts that closer to 25%.
For many years, media owners have cited advertiser demand as the reason for inflating ad-rates, but in the absence of that demand and given the general stagnation (at best) of audiences, this argument no longer holds water. These ratecard gains are offset by the overall Performance (audience) shift which was also in the negative at -1.3% (for technical reason this excludes Pay TV in this tranche). This gives an adjusted MIW (CPM) Index of negative -0.26%.
If we also factor in the acceleration of media discounting in the past year then in real terms the cost of buying media has declined at a rate very steep rate indeed. Endless projections and demands from stakeholders, agency or media-owner alike, for growth in media investment are the equivalent of expecting Mary Poppins to descend from the heavens to save the day. There is no real growth in the market and increasing market share simply won’t cover the gap.
Of course, looking at the big picture over time is also interesting and it can give a really clear insight into those media platforms most capable of making it through to the Round of Next in the media competition.
Before I commence though, let me say that there is no Don Quixote Award for the media industry in South Africa but if there was, it would undoubtedly go to Media Manager founder Mike Leahy. His valiant attempts over the years to get the industry to understand weighted averages and to urge media planners to occupy the moral high ground when it comes to the nth degree of integrity in trended data, does him much credit.
Love your work Mike! You’re a legend.
Now, let’s take a look at those 10-year trends.
It’s not difficult to see that, compared to the All Media MIW index norm, TV and OOH have managed the cost-to-market of media relatively well, and that traditional print and radio have totally priced themselves out of the market. Declining circulation fuels the high inflation on print, but at least publishers are beginning to grapple with the growing reality of online reading habits. Radio guys! Eish! Here’s the thing: you can’t just talk your way out of this one.
Ultimately though, this is the big question. In a digital Post-COVID-19 (PC19) landscape will there still be the same degree of value in reporting the long term evolution of media costs in a MIW?
You can’t use the Then to justify the Now and the Next is a invariably a quantum leap not a trend.
Gordon Muller is Africa’s oldest surviving media strategist. Author of Media Planning – Art or Science. Mostly harmless! Read his Khulumamedia Blog here.
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