South Africa: New TV research planning guidelines

Regulation & Policy

According to Media Shoptalk's recent newsletter released last week, a contentious issue is the new TV universe changes and the effect of these changes, where reportedly a number of planners have found major differences between projected TV plans and actual results achieved for campaigns that have been planned from August 2009 to date.

It believes the reasons for these are that every six months, the TAMS universe changes to take into account a number of shifts in the market place. To date, the change in the universe has not had a major impact on how TV schedules are planned or on any results that are achieved in terms of post campaign analyses. The latest change however, in August 2009, has resulted in a number of changes and queries from the industry.

AC Nielsen has advised that it is impossible to change what has happened in the past, but it has given guidelines for planning in the future. Three key areas have affected the overall results for TV bursts specifically planned utilising June and July historical viewing data:

Area 1: The satellite results have run ahead of what was expected. The number of "no pay TV" reporting households was steadily declining due to the methodology used to estimate DStv Compact viewership. The 2008 universe was the lowest ever, however reporting for DStv Compact has been amended and as of the new August 2009 universe, the "no pay TV" universe has increased to a more robust level. This means that the universe is more reliable in terms of results projected for planning.

Area 2: It is believed that the content issue is more of a problem than the universe sizes. The number of programme repeats as well as the quality of local programming being produced may well be having a negative impact on TV viewership in general. We have also gone through a lean period in terms of sport broadcasts. The number of sports programmes on schedule has generally declined in the past 12 months compared to previous years.

Area 3: There is a theory that people are generally getting home later than they have been in past years. This is especially true for Gauteng viewers due to the major road works taking place around the province for the Gautrain and World Cup. What used to take a commuter/motorist 40 minutes can now take anything from 60 to 90 minutes.

All three areas affect forecasting a TV plan. Based on actual viewing data across all TV stations, between 6-9.30pm there is a drop off in ratings month on month from September through to November 2009. However, the decline is not only seen in ratings, when one looks at the number of people (thousands) there is a general decline in viewers too.

The introduction and increase in DStv Compact subscribers has influenced viewing habits for programmes such as Generations. Whilst the DStv ratings and audience are taken and added back into the SABC ratings and audience figures, there is a definite change in viewing patterns.

The recommendation therefore is that any TV plan that has been done for August 2009 and beyond should be re-run utilising source data from August as the historical base.

This is an example of how the new universe can affect a TV plan:

· Initial TV plan, based on June/July viewing data and projected to October/November achieved a reach of 82% with 590 ARs. The universe was 1 442 000.

· TV plan, rerun utilising August data achieved a reach of 73% with 593 ARs. The universe was 1 556 000.

· Post campaign for this burst reflected a reach of 74% with 498 ARs. This is almost 100 ARs less - however when looking at the thousands reached, the numbers are very similar.

The drop in ARs can't be explained now but it is recommended that one considers and analyses the numbers of people reached instead.

Media ShopTalk believes the industry is moving to a situation whereby it could trade in Cost per Points (CPPs) with the TV stations but report to clients in Cost per Thousands (CPTs) but that there are a number of other issues that need to sorted out.

Biz-Community 7th Jan 2010