Rising above the clutter of TV advertising

Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Friday, May 23, 2008

There’s a need to tell the right brand story that will convert the consumer.

The Philippines is a hands-down TV-viewing market. With nearly 90% of households owning television sets and watching television programs at different hours of the day, television also remains to be the most cost-efficient medium when reaching out to a broad base market. Today, the average cost of a prime-time spot is estimated at Php250,000 per 30-sec. Seemingly expensive for an entrepreneur. But the flipside is – a prime-time spot can reach more than one-tenth of the entire Philippine population. On the assumption, that a prime-time spot reaches 10,000,000 Filipinos, the effective cost of reaching each person is 0.025 cents. But this data is only half of the story. There are a few things one must consider if one hopes to effectively and efficiently television advertising.

Recognize advertising clutter

One of the major deterrents to effectively reaching a TV viewing audience is advertising clutter. In an unprecedented move, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), the largest and oldest organization of media advertisers, mounted an Advertising Load Research to determine the actual minutes of commercial break that any television program must have so as not to compromise the effective recall of advertising spots. Based on the findings of global research company, Icon Added Value that conducted the research, the maximum advertising load that a television program can have in the Philippines today is 21 minutes, but not without a downside.

Presently, the Kapisanan ng Mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the body that regulates broadcast legislation and time, imposes an 18 minutes advertising load among its members. At 21 minutes or 3 minutes more than the current practice, general TV advertising effectiveness is expected to be 7% lower while related recall e.g. remembering what the brand or the ad tells the consumers, should be 17% lower.

Interestingly, the Philippines’ self-imposed 18-minutes among members of the KBP organization is already much higher when compared to Asian counterparts like Hongkong, 14 minutes; Singapore, 12 minutes; Malaysia, 14 minutes; Taiwan, 15 minutes, Thailand, 10 minutes, among others. At 18 minutes, related recall from advertising in the Philippines is thirty percent less efficient when compared to neighboring Asian countries. That is why Philippine advertisers are bound to put in more spot placements to make their TV advertising more effective. In North America, the United States has no restrictions when it comes to advertising load.

How to optimize TV media

Not everything is a loss to entrepreneurs wishing to capitalize on television as a medium in the marketing communications mix, particularly if their target market belongs to the broad middle class segment.

The role of television as a medium is to provide a convenient format for business owners to reach its target market covering more ground, less time and without having to send foot soldiers, colloquially referred to as salespeople, to do the brand’s story-telling. At an estimated 0.025 cents per person to reach a broad market, assuming that this is the brand’s target market, going television is a steal provided the marketer effectively fills the other marketing gaps. These gaps include: Have the right brand story said in an intrusive, engaging and compelling way. Having television as part of the marketing communications mix is a no-brainer, but what stretches and tests the marketer’s skill is the capability to tell the right brand story that will convert the consumer to try and sustain usage of the product or service. An appropriate creatively intrusive and engaging advertising material must complement the right brand story.

Many advertisers are guilty of executing creative-driven materials but lack the substance to sustain consumer interest in the brand. So when advertising spots on television end, often the brand’s trial level and share eventually declines.

Mount an adequate TV frequency load and complement with other media mix. Not all business owners have a bottomless pit of resources to sustain presence on television but advertisers can work with media experts to develop a TV media plan that is just sufficiently adequate to create brand awareness, comprehension of the brand message and stir action to try the product or service. To stretch media monies, the brand advertiser can complement the TV media plan with public relations or other media buys in other media formats.

Assess whether television is a primary or secondary media format for you. Most brand advertisers fall into the trap of making television their primary and only media format despite a highly restricted marketing communications budget. Don’t forget to look at the advertising spending of the brand’s category users. And check the best option available.

Develop a TV media plan linked to your target audience’s motivations. Media experts today have the software and technology that enable brand marketers to customize their television media plan to the unique lifestyle, aspirations and motivations of one’s target market. For example global media agency Mediaforce Vizeum, now with local presence, capitalizes on a technology hinging on eight motivations of customers i.e. enjoyment, vitality, conviviality, power, recognition, control, security and belonging. Placements are skewed to programs whose driving influence is a single or multiple set of motivations. For example, customer groups whose motivation is fun and laughter with satisfaction driven by spontaneity and impulse are bound to perfectly match the profile of television programs like Bubble Gang and Wowowee. Customer segments whose motivation is playing to win, success, power dressing can be perfect TV audiences for Amazing Race and Pinoy Big Brother.

Cost-wise, television per placement may seem prohibitive but what comprises effective TV marketing is the market reach, efficient and wise use of this media format. For entrepreneurs and business owners though, the challenge likewise, is the financial courage to use this media format to their brand’s advantage.