The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) recently commissioned independent research on behalf of the industry which was aimed at providing new ways to address the challenges that SAARF is currently facing.
Despite recent developments and strong views expressed by stakeholders, the industry continues to lean towards having an industry body, but how this body will operate is uncertain.
This research was determined by Johann Koster of Johann Koster Consulting who was appointed by SAARF’s board. The consultation process entailed interviews with executives from 59 local organisations as well consulting a number of international organisations to gain insights on industry and research structures as well as funding mechanisms.
What Koster established was that 66% believe that an industry body is the best vehicle to represent communications and media interests. Only 23% disagreed. However, what was clear is the SAARF cannot continue as it has done since its inception.
The report showed that 80% of marketers consulted were willing to contribute to joint industry research and 60% were willing to contribute to a representative industry body.
“It is critically important that the industry has a clear vision for media research going forward. It was important to get a broader understanding from a wider group of media, marketing and agency stakeholders rather than a view driven by particular interests. There are numerous different agendas on the table, and this research indicates that despite these differences, there is a lot of common ground,” says Bruce Williamson, MD of UM South Africa.
Media owners committed to continue funding support for research, but within reason. They felt that their funding would need to be more focused on the specific needs of the media industry. However, on the other side of the coin many respondents in the report perceived SAARF as outdated, without a focus on the needs of the industry. However, at industry level all components of the current AMPS are seen as important.
There were four main characteristics that the industry in general identified for a potential future body. Marketers identified data integrity and reliability, and innovation as important issues to be addressed. Each stakeholder group prioritised the four key characteristics slightly differently but, in the main, agreed on what the four are. Leadership and research expertise were the other two issues.
What does the industry want?
Industry members were asked what their views and requirements for a research model would be. This was in response to changes stemming from the resignation of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) at the end of last year from the SAARF board.
SAARF CEO, Ettiene van den Berg explains, “The resignation had a significant impact on SAARF and the industry’s funding model. This prompted the research body to initiate research into what the industry would like the mandate and strategic positioning of SAARF to be as we move forward within a very challenging and dynamic time for media research globally.”
On the subject of funding
All parties agreed that they would only begin to consider contribution funds towards an industry body if there was a concrete value proposition on the table. Local decision makers in the media and marketing industry said that there should be one centralised hub survey that must be independent from any stakeholder grouping and be designed by reputable experts through industry consultation.
Media agencies are willing to review agency fee structures to facilitate funding contributions and media owners are committed to continue funding research but within a set framework.
“In general,” says van den Berg, “There is a desire to move beyond the current funding argument for the good of the industry”.
Williamson also said, “Whist there is still a lot of work to be done, and some difficult decisions to be made, we now have a far better understanding of the industry’s views around funding and governance issues pertaining to media and marketing research in South Africa. It is important that we have trusted media currencies which allow for fair trade. This project will also guide SAARF as to its future role in the industry.”
The survey showed that:
56% prefer a solution that involves funding derived from marketers, whether through levy collections by media agencies or direct payment.
72% of marketers prefer a solution that involves them contributing funds, with 39% prefer the levy system and 33% the direct payment system.
76% of media agencies agree that funding should be derived from marketers and 35% prefer the levy system while 41% prefer the direct payment method.
23% of media agency respondents that elected the direct payment method are willing to implement a levy system should their clients (marketers) require it.
International organisations were also consulted to gain insights on industry and research structures as well as funding mechanisms.
The report has been handed over to SAARF, who will be presenting it to the industry stakeholders at workshops that will be held in Johannesburg next week (confirmed for 21 April), as well as in Cape Town and Durban thereafter.