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  • khulumamedia 1:43 pm on May 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    SEM, Me, and Bobby McGee 

    The highlight of my media career is undoubtedly being called a “media anarchist” in 2008 when I pointed out to the industry that once you start splitting the 10 LSM segments, you de facto create more LSM segments. 17 LSM segments by last count in AMPS 2015AB.

    Of course, there are still people who insist there were only 10 LSMs but, by and large, these are essentially the same people who throw away perfectly good food because of the “Best Before” stamp on the packaging.

    So, when it was announced that the Establishment Survey (ES) SEM model consisted of only 10 segments, I did feel a little disappointed. Not quite like I was being dragged screaming off a United Airlines flight but certainly a bit like I’d been downgraded from business class.

    As we have seen from my previous blog, even for a Media Twit like me, reweighting from AMPS-LSM to the new SEM (Socio Economic Measure) is doable if you have a pin, a piece of string and a ruler, and you like playing “Where’s Wally”. Its predictable and it lacks targeted granularity though, so as with LSM, the key to using SEM is to create clusters that best reflect your point of focus.

    Well, you can only begin to imagine my excitement when I discovered that not only can the SEM model also be segmented into 17 segments but that you can create as many segments as you want. Up to 100 in fact.

    Yes! That’s what that mysterious “SEM Actual Value” coding line is for in Telmar.

    SEM is not so much a pre-packaged segmentation tool, as it is a continuum. As media planners (I’m still a media-planner even though the phrase lacks the cachet of being a channel-strategist), we can determine precisely where on the continuum we want to focus our communication. Of course, reliability of sample sizes is questionable but ultimately, it’s insights we’re after in media these days, not nth degree factual observations. Well, at least that’s what I’m told by the big-data converts.

    For instance, we can target the Top End of the market (Top 23% – SEM score 78-100). Or we can target the Top End of the market (Top 14% – SEM score 87-10). Or we can target the Top End of the market (Top 10% – score 91-10 or SEM 10).

    You see where the problem lies? There is no convention. Your Top End and my Top End may be completely different. Indeed, we can choose to segment that market into whichever configuration suits our purpose. Now, I’m not normally a betting man (too many years as an Arsenal supporter) but I’m willing to bet that SABC TV,  DSTV and ETV will all have a very different SEM segmentation offering. As will KayaFM, 702 and PowerFM.

    It’s a bit like “Black Diamonds 2”. Everyone will be free to use the SEM data as they see fit. Yes, it’s the democracy of data-usage but I’m with Bobby McGee on this one; “freedom’s just another word for nothin left to lose”.

    It’s not enough for ES to dump this new data-template on the market without detailed explanations and guidelines. For instance, if this is a better representation of South Africa’s Gini-coefficient then why is it a continuum? Why isn’t the shift quantum? A perfect continuum on a “have and have-not” scale doesn’t seem to mirror disproportionate distribution of economic wealth. What clustering conventions would best represent the reality of Mzansi’s Gini-defined economic circumstances?

    ES needs to engage with the media industry and start training and workshopping with data-users. The ES stakeholders need to explain what the differences are between AMPS and ES (and LSM and SEM); not statistical and research-based differences, but actual hands on application in a live planning situation. And they need to do this before the reweighted ES-TAMS data goes live in June.

    It’s simply not enough to launch and then just walk away.

    Let’s get back to clustering the data. If the Muller LSM Cluster Model[1] works as a usable segmentation tool (and it does), then can it be used to position SEM in the recognizable media landscape?

    ES LSM uses the same defining variables as AMPS but there has been some re-weighting of the populations, so the Muller Cluster Model is constructed slightly differently in ES.

    • Traditional Market: LSM 1,2,3 (6,2% Pop)
    • Transitional Market: LSM 4,5 (35,7% Pop)
    • Middle Market: LSM 6 (33,6% Pop)
    • Upper Middle B: LSM 7,8 (16,0% Pop)
    • Upper Middle A: LSM 9 (5,5% Pop)
    • Elite: LSM 10 (3,0%)

    By creating midpoint splits for SEM, in the same way that LSM was split in AMPS, we can juxtapose ES-SEM against ES-LSM. The “arch” is reassuringly familiar and we can discern some apparent correlations between the competing segmentation tools. LSM10 and SEM10 for instance are easily located at the “top end” of the market continuum.

    There are also some significant points of difference, particularly at the “bottom-end” of the market e.g. LSM3 & SEM3 or LSM 4 & SEM 4.

    BLOG3 G1

    If you want to use the SEM data as a segmentation continuum, be my guest, but migrating from existing LSM segmentation practices to SEM, is extremely difficult. If you want a landscape that is more familiar, something that positions your old segmentation parameters in ES, then clustering proves a much more workable solution.

    The following parameters provide a day-to-day usable framework.

    • Traditional Market
      • ES LSM 1,2,3 (6,2 % Pop)/ ES SEM 1 (12,6% Pop)
    • Transitional Market
      • ES LSM 4,5 (35,7% Pop)/ ES SEM 2,3,4 (40,8% Pop)
    • Middle Market
      • ES LSM 6 (33,6% Pop)/ ES SEM 5,6L (14,6% Pop)
    • Upper Middle B
      • ES LSM 7,8 (16,0% Pop)/ ES SEM 6H,7,8 (20,1% Pop)
    • Upper Middle A
      • ES LSM 9 (5,5% Pop)/ ES SEM 9,10L (8,7% Pop)
    • Elite
      • ES LSM 10 (3,0% Pop)/ SEM 10H (3,3% Pop)

    In addition, when creating broader target parameters, if you use the “1-up:1-down” rule of thumb then discernible and differentiating media consumption patterns will emerge. So, target Middle & Transitional (SEM6L-SEM2) or Middle & Upper Middle B (SEM5 – SEM8) but don’t try and target Transitional through to Upper Middle B for instance; there is simply no cohesive media consumption pattern.

    BLOG3 G2

    I have no doubt that the statistical bean-counters will take exception to this solution but I in turn make no apology for being a Media Twit, whose job it is to develop coherent and usable marketing and media insights for advertisers.

    You want statistical perfection, then buy an algorithm.

    Of course, if we had Product consumption and Brand information multi-based into ES, then none of this would be necessary, because we would be able to immediately locate our targeted brand consumers on the new ES landscape.

    But that’s another journey entirely and although the song says, “I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday”, right now it is all about what we’re going to do today.

    [1] Marketing in South Africa – Simpson & Lappeman

  • khulumamedia 6:14 am on April 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Where’s Wally? and SEMs – A game for people with two belly buttons? 

    Well now that wasn’t so bad. I’ve asked the first Twit question and we’re over the first ES obstacle. Nobody has sent me for counselling with Robert Ruud, or stopped following me on Twitter. So, let’s press on with the mission. Bear in mind though, that this sequence of blogs isn’t a Q&A session. It’s a Q session because like most media folks in Mzansi who have two belly-buttons (one from your mother and the other from AMPS), when it comes to the practical application of ES data, I don’t know my A from my Q.

    As I indicated in my previous blog, I don’t know why we as a consumer-nation are collectively worth 11% less than in the good old AMPS days. Maybe we can point to the revised ES sampling framework or changes in research methodology. Maybe it’s just the stark reality of 26% official unemployment in Zupta-World. But that’s not the stuff we Media Twits need to bother with right now.

    Unlike the 2BBs, with their umbilical connection to AMPS, we Digital Natives stride confidently into the brave new ES world, ready to apply the data without fussing about the detail.

    Just in case you’re wondering how Africa’s oldest surviving media planner (@Mzansimedia – that’s me) gets to be a Digital Native, let me just say that if Rachel Dolezal can pose as a black person because “race is just a social construct”, then I can pose as a Digital Native because being digital is just a media construct.

    To cross the river of indecision from AMPS-World to ES-World, we need a bridge though. Something that is both familiar and relatively simplistic. Useless as they may be for target market segmentation in the modern media world, LSMS can provide not so much a bridge, but at least two stepping stones.

    The first step is to establish whether AMPS-LSM and ES-LSM behave the same. Yes, I know that all comparisons between AMPS-LSM and ES are inspired, if not by Satan, then at least by Dennis the Menace, but in the functional media world we are compelled to compare apples with oranges every day. I mean how else can we measure the relative contribution of a 30s TVC with a FPFC in magazines?

    ES-LSM uses the same variables as were previously used to define AMPS-LSM but the ES sampling framework provides a very different picture of the distribution of those households. Yes, there is the familiar bell-shaped curve peaking at LSM 6 but each individual LSM segment shows significant variation in attributed households, and if we combine this with variations in claimed HH income (see previous ‘Brave New World’ blog) then the “LSM value landscape” becomes very different.

    For instance, in AMPS the LSM10 segment represented 20,9% of total monthly HH income, whereas in ES it represents only 12,2%. ES-LSM6 on the other hand now represents 26,8% of monthly HH income value, which is significantly higher than the 15,2% in AMPS. So, if you’re going to transition from AMPS LSM to ES SEM, it helps first to reweight and position your previous LSM target market parameters onto the ES weightings.

    where's wally 1

    Of course, if there was product and brand information in ES, or multi-based onto ES, then we wouldn’t need to do any of this. But there isn’t, so on we go. Once you’ve found your old LSM-self in the ES-LSM model you can take the next step and try to create matching SEM target market parameters. It’s kind of like Where’s Wally for media grown-ups.

    There are significant changes in the variables that are used to develop the SEM model. A detailed discussion of these variables is reserved for another blog. Suffice to say that the overall number of variables has been decreased to 14 and that there is a strong focus on structural items (such as roof & flooring materials), a relatively lower reliance on durables (such as washing machines and microwave ovens) and no reliance on technology items (such as mobile phones).

    Despite these differences, courtesy of Decimal Dan, we see a reassuringly familiar shape when we look at a correspondence map of the ES LSM & SEM segments. If you don’t know who Decimal Dan is, then ask your dad; or if you’re a Digital Native, ask your granddad.

    where's wally 2

    At a glance, we can see the gradation from Rural, through Urban to Metropolitan communities. There are significant differences in Av. HH Income between the individual cells, but the progressive growth in earning (and presumably spending) power is clearly in evidence. So perhaps looking at HH income or personal income levels might provide another sound stepping stone to transfer AMPS-LSM insights into the SEM framework?

    Of course, AMPS-LSM 10 (6% of households) and SEM (7% of households) still represent the top end of the market but few, if any, planners target individual SEM (or LSM) cells. So, one of the biggest challenges is to create (or re-create) target market ranges or clusters using SEM. This exercise will become increasingly relevant when the ES-weighted TAMS data goes live in June, because let’s face it, most media plans centre on effective TV planning and buying.

    For those familiar with the Muller Cluster Model it is interesting to note that SEM1 corresponds with the Traditional Market (the old LSM 1,2&3) and that SEM2 and SEM3 correspond with The Transitional Market (the old LSM 4&5). Not in terms of size and value, but in terms of relative positioning. If you were using AMPS-LSM 7&8 to target the Upper Middle B market segment, then maybe you need to use SEM 6,7&8 to recreate the same percentile segment.

    So, there we have it. Everything is different but everything looks reassuringly familiar. Go forth and compare apples with oranges because in Media-Twit Land, we don’t look for the right answer, because it doesn’t exist. Rather ask the questions that are relevant to your product category or brand and come up with solutions, or more specifically SEM solutions that answer your questions. Maybe in five years there’ll be established SEM benchmarks, but right now we are all, rightly or wrongly, creating the individual insights that will in time become the collective wisdom of the brave new media world.

    Of course, if you only have one belly-button then you can ignore this blog. Go to SEM. Go directly to SEM. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect 200. But that’s not Where’s Wally. That’s a different board game entirely.

  • khulumamedia 3:05 pm on April 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    ES: Taking the Brave New World for granted? 

    Writing in Brave New World, Aldous Huxley noted that “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”. Whether you have taken AMPS for granted for the past 40 years, and you think the media industry has reached the end of an era, or you feel that the launch of Establishment Survey (ES) signals entry into that brave new world, we all need to accept two facts:
    1. AMPS 2015 was indeed the last AMPS
    2. The ES 2016 database is live and the data needs to be analysed and used
    It is with bated breath that I’ve been waiting to see which of the big industry players will be first to market, using actual data from ES to start informing media selling, planning and buying decisions. To my surprise though, and we can blame it on the Easter Bunny who has effectively closed the Mzansi media factory for the month of April, nobody has had anything to say since the launch of ES.
    It’s like watching the start of the of the old Monty Python Twit Race. If you’re too young to recall it, here’s the YouTube link and if you’re old enough to recognise yourself or a colleague, please note that name and addresses have been changed to protect really nice media people.

    We’re all waiting to see who’ll be out the blocks first and who’s going to make a twit of themselves first.
    Well, my grandchildren have taught me a lot about being openly inquisitive and asking awkward questions without shame (Grandpa why is your tummy so squishy? What happened to your hair? Grandpa why we do have to support Arsenal?). So as I, like the rest of the media industry, start to unpack the data in ES, I’m unashamedly going to ask questions for which I don’t have the answers. Even if it does make me look like a twit!
    I’ve actually tried to ask some of these questions of the various stakeholders, but unfortunately, whilst everyone is keen to take ownership of the data, not everyone is keen to take ownership of the explanations. You know the kind of conversation …
    Me: Why?
    Tom: Ask Dick
    Dick: Ask Harry
    Harry: Tom who?
    This will be the first piece in my series of questions about ES and some of the new insights which will govern our media thinking in the post-AMPS landscape. I don’t have the answers but I have some understanding of the implications.
    Now, we’ve all been told that we must not compare ES with AMPS. The two databases are vastly different in terms of sampling framework and methodology, and no trending is possible; but telling media planners not to compare AMPS and ES is like telling the Brits that they shouldn’t compare life in the UK before and after Brexit, because the economic and social parameters have changed.
    This may be the correct stance for researchers and statistical purists, but the rest of us squaddies out here in the media-trenches have to try and explain why the concepts and numbers that we’ve used in the past will no longer apply in 2017 and 2018.
    Let’s begin interrogating the new ES data by looking at the size and value of the reported consumer market. Households and household incomes is a good starting point. Well, if you think that being downgraded by S&P and Fitch is bad news for the economy, it’s interesting to note that ES got there first.
    The reported number of households in ES (July-Dec 2016) has increased by 2% to 15,9m but average household income (HHI) has declined by 12% to R9,885. AMPS2015 (Jan-Dec 2015) reported average HHI at R11,276. This has the effect of “down-grading” the total reported monthly income (and presumably the average spending power) by billions of Rands each month.
    Now it may be argued that this is the new economic reality in Jacob Zuma’s Mzansi, and it’s all just relative, but if future media campaigns are to be directed at maximising ROI, not just buying cheap exposure against increased consumer universes, then this places a tremendous premium on understanding the commercial viability, not just the population size, of target market segments.
    Ideally, this evaluation should be done at a product category or brand level because it’s at this consumer level that we get a sense of the market “self-segmenting” on established purchase behaviour. Unfortunately, ES does not provide marketers with that level of scrutiny, so we need to rely on externally constructed and superimposed models, such as LSMS and the new ES Socio-Economic Measure (SEM) to review that value.
    How to build a bridge from AMPS LSM to ES SEM is the subject of a different set of awkward questions (and no doubt one that will see me again sitting on the research naughty step for attempting to compare data across surveys) but, for the purposes of discussing household income, the 10-point scale inherent in the LSM and SEM models, serves as a simple facilitator and illustrates both the need for, and the complexity of,  setting revised macro market-segmentation parameters.

    lsm & sems picture

    The chart above reflects that total HH Income value (Number of households x Av HHI) of the RSA market. The implication is quite clear. Beyond the “Elite” in LSM10 (6,2% of adult population) and SEM10 (6,8%), the ES data shows a much flatter distribution pattern for “household purchasing power” on a monthly basis; and the much celebrated LSM6 is looking a lot more like a phantom pregnancy than the “preggy-bump” that was supposed to deliver the next heir to the consumer throne.
    It’s not enough to just migrate the old LSM segmentation parameters from AMPS to ES. It is crucial that each and every marketer totally recalibrate all existing segmentation models to reflect this new market reality. For instance, the implication of this distribution pattern, for increasing the use of indigenous languages in advertising and media is staggering, and this will be particularly relevant when TV planning and buying has to adjust to the ES-weighted TAMS data due to go live in June.
    We can of course hang on to AMPS 2015AB and the old population estimates and segmentation models, if we feel the sampling framework was more appropriate for assessing the economically and commercially active population, but we need to question the value of market data collected in 2015 for projecting media audiences in 2017 and 2018.
    So there it is in a nutshell. Twit question #1.
    Does the overall consumer market have 11-12% less to spend each month than it did in 2015 and, if this is the new reality, how do we apply this insight to adjust previous market segmentation models?
    Maybe Aldous Huxley was right and “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”; but we also know for sure that marketers in South Africa and Africa have an almost infinite capacity to adapt positively to change.
    It could be the end of an era or a brave new world, but as marketers and media strategists we have to make the choice. And we have to make the choice now.

  • khulumamedia 5:26 pm on February 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    The Media Dollar 

    ‪A dollar from the media tree‬
    Fell somewhere really quite close to me
    I picked it up and studied it
    With intent
    and quite religiously!
    It had a number
    I was told
    Was printed just for me
    A number
    So it seems
    Would really set me free.
    But as I looked
    The more I saw
    It really was quite plain to see
    Twas just another dollar
    From the media money tree!

  • khulumamedia 3:23 pm on February 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    The ABCs: A Defence against Dark Publishing Arts? 

    The recent release of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures for Q4 2016 is about as nail-biting as watching a rerun of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After all, you already know the outcome. Right? The good guys survive and the bad guys don’t.

    So, when for the price of entry to the first ever ABC data-release webinar, you get to see many of the predictable downward trended bar-charts, you can’t help wondering if you haven’t seen it all before. And you have. Audited circulations for printed publications are declining here in South Africa and globally.

    That’s hardly news to publishers and media strategists!

    It’s important to remember though, that increases or decreases in circulation are not exclusively a mirror of consumer commitment to a title, they are often a reflection of cost effective publisher management. The latest figures confirm there’s been a 3,2% decline in the number of ABC newspaper titles and a corresponding 4,6% decline in newspaper circulation year on year for the same period. Magazines have experienced a slightly steeper decline with 5,3% fewer titles and a 3% decline in circulation year on year.

    You don’t need to be Hermione Granger to figure out that if you publish fewer titles then overall, there will be a decline in circulation in the category.

    Of course, some sectors and some titles do better that others. Daily newspaper circulations have declined at a much faster rate year on year (-12,6%) than weekly newspapers (-6,4%) and although Consumer Magazines have mirrored the performance of daily newspapers (-12,5% decline), Custom Magazines (+2,6%) and B2B Magazines (+1,3%) buck the overall magazine trend.

    All this poses the question, “what are the attributes of a circulation winning print format”? Intuitively one might revert to an analysis of traditional benchmarks such as “subscription levels” for answers.

    If we compare the “big-loser” Daily Newspapers with the “big winner” Custom Magazines, we find an interesting dynamic. Daily Newspapers generate 96% of their audited circulation from Single Copy Sales (68%) and subscriptions (28%). Custom magazines, on other hand, generate 23% of their circulation from subscriptions and 76% from free distribution.

    So, is the real difference between “winning” and “losing” in the ABC circulation stakes simply a question of giving away your publication rather than trying to sell it? And if free distribution is the answer to declining circulations, then why hasn’t it propped up the performance of Consumer Magazines? Where Daily Newspapers report 28% of ABC circulation in subscriptions, Consumer Magazines report 24% in free distribution and yet both their circulations decline at the same rate.

    The wisdom of “if you build it they will come” or more specifically “if you print it they will read” doesn’t seem always to apply and it’s not just a question of readers migrating to digital content platform. That’s a given. Mullers 3rd Law of Media Motion states that …

    • for every media action there is an equal and opposite media re-action

    Everybody who puts down the magazine or newspaper they’re reading is probably picking up their mobile or tablet to engage with the same content online. A title like Sowetan, which shows an 8,5% decline in circulation YoY, shows a 20% increase in page-visits over the same period. That’s why the Publisher Research Council has made the bold move away from measuring “AMPS readership” towards measuring platform agnostic reading behaviour in the PAMS currency due for release later this year.

    Perhaps then, we need to revisit the old conundrum which, in a quantitative media-procurement world, has seemingly been abandoned. What is the value of the editorial environment in which an advertisement appears? What credibility does an ABC certificate infer to any given title?

    Does a title like Financial Mail with a 100% “Paid” circulation of 12,162 but which reports a 20% circulation decline YoY, have more, or less credibility than a title like Forbes Africa, with a circulation of 20,707 (+18% YoY) but which only reports on 9,977 (48%) “Paid” circulation? Does cover price equal content credibility?

    In 2015 the Oxford Dictionary “word of the year” was “Emoji”. A nice word that conjures up images of smiling faces and thumbs-up. The year before that, the word of the year was “Selfie”. Another happy word. After all, who ever published a grumpy selfie?

    In 2016 the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year is “Post-truth”.

    We live in a world of #FakeNews and “Alternative Facts”. A world where consumer trust in published content and commercial messaging is plumbing new depths. The Guardian recently reported that over 50% of retail advertising offers over Black Friday had inflated the “was” price to create false point of reference for shoppers. Native advertising, the great white editorial light has proved to be little more than a spectral illusion designed to lure unsuspecting readers into transactional enslavement. Advertorial by any other name would smell as sweet.

    If we always just look at the bar charts and trends in the ABC data, then that’s all we’ll ever see. Sometimes in media though, we get the best answers from numbers when they just simply don’t add up! If we interrogate the data and we ask the right questions then, although the Audit Bureau of Circulations isn’t Hogwarts, an ABC certificate may become a very effective magical spell in the Defence Against the Dark Publishing Arts.


  • khulumamedia 10:02 pm on October 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Community Media – Victims or Entrepreneurs? 

    After attending the recent GCIS Colloquium (yes it really is a word) on Media Transformation and Diversity I was asked

    “what is the one factor, common to all communities, that marketers and advertisers take into consideration when deciding whether to place an advertisement in community media”?

    Here’s the answer.

    Is there one factor which makes community media attractive to advertisers?

    The simple answer is that there is no one factor that is common to all communities. Each community has a unique bonding agent which binds it together. It could be language; it could be age; it could be gender or sexual orientation.

    Community media owners need to stop thinking about legislative definitions of what constitutes a community medium and start thinking like marketers.

    All too often, community is defined in a very restricted way to mean geographical location; the “community of Alexandra” for instance. This leads to a massive oversimplification of the communication process because within one geographical community there are many attitudinal, behavioural and economic communities.

    Increasingly what successful marketers are looking at is how the community spontaneously segments itself; not what conventional research parameters are super-imposed on a community. People who fly drones for a hobby are a community, just as people who attend poetry-readings or support Kaizer Chiefs are a community.

    In segmenting the market, advertisers more typically refer to communities as ‘target-market segments’ and would be looking for ROMI (Return on Media Investment) from any advertising activity directed at these segments. In response to this, community media-owners need to analyse the commercial viability of the community their medium represents and isolate those facets which are commercially attractive to advertisers.

    So, for example, if the community offering is defined by “old-age’ then it might be pitched to advertisers of Health and Retirement Insurance or Anti-ageing creams.

    Each and every advertiser targets different market segments. Community media-owners need to position their medium in such a manner that it stands out from the alternative options. If you are selling a geographic community, then you need to build a case for the ‘commercial attractiveness’ of that community and demonstrate why that community requires regional up-weighting over and above the inevitable exposure generated by national advertising.

    If a community medium can’t demonstrate that it has bigger fish in its pond, then media planners won’t invest in an extra fishing rod.

    Why are mainstream media & national coverage preferred?

    The global business model for advertising has over the past two decades been relentlessly driven by a procurement mindset which emphasizes high levels of national reach, discounts and cost-efficiency. Big national audience numbers at the cheapest price. Most agencies are hugely incentivized to buy media space this way and, given the rise of programmatic planning and buying, this is going to get a lot worse for the smaller players before it gets better.

    Advertising algorithms are formulated to buy big audiences cheaply. That’s their purpose in life.

    Unfortunately, buying volume rarely equates to buying quality and therein lies the opportunity for community media; or should I say those community media that offer quality content.

    The most consistent mistake made by all media owners is to try and prove they are ‘viable’ as an advertising platform. It’s not enough. You have to prove that you are ‘more viable’ than the other media options available to advertisers.

    So not only do you have to sell your community to the advertisers, but you have to sell the fact that you are the best means of reaching that community; that you are the best means of getting a commercial response from that community or market segment. You have to sell that fact effectively, authoritatively and consistently.

    One of the biggest myths in media is that every medium is entitled to its ‘fair share’ of the advertising pie. The Inconvenient Truth is that some people are better at selling advertising than others. When it comes to media placement, it’s not just about what media planners are prepared to buy, it’s about what media owners are able to sell.

    So how should we sell small community media?

    Community media need to think in terms of business ecosystems not survival of the fittest in a last man standing competition. No single medium owns the community or the individual within the community, therefore in order to sell the community, media-owners have to work together. This is not just a ‘nice to have’ option; small community based media (including geographical communities) need to form into a Community Media Collective (CMC) or face the reality that their media offering will gradually expire.

    Community media-owners will extract more commercial value by co-operating with other media owners at a community level than by competing with them. First you must all sell your community before you can sell your medium. When it comes to community media, the old marketing adage “it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond” actually offers very poor advice. First you make the pond bigger and then you can work on being the biggest fish!

    First prize has always been being the Big Fish in a Big Pond.

    Think of your ‘community’ as an atom. At the centre of the atom is the ‘Nucleus’; the central energy force that holds the Atom (community) together. Each community will have a different energy source. Age. Political affiliation. Gender orientation. Language. Geographical proximity. From a media perspective the energy that holds it all together is ‘communication’. The exchange of information. Content.


    The nucleus of the community is made up of two elements; Protons (let’s call them “your medium”) and Neutrons (let’s call them “competing media”). It’s the balance between these media types (Protons and Neutrons) that holds the Atom (community) together and ensures that the Electrons (the actual members of the community) are still bound to that community. If any single element or medium in the homeostatic system seeks to overwhelm the balance, then the entire Atom (community) will be destabilized and the community will be destroyed.

    Your Proton doesn’t “win” the Nucleus by overwhelming the Neutrons. It simply destroys the Atom. If you don’t believe me than ask Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

    Community media owners need to recognize their common destiny and their common purpose; which is to keep the Atom (community) alive. No one medium can lay claim to “owning” the consumer these days. Media exposure is ubiquitous. Community print, community radio and TV, mobile and OOH media all need to mobilize themselves into an aggregated communication offering which is dedicated to growing the size and commercial value of the pond.

    All media owners need to sell their content platforms holistically because advertisers have come to realize that no single medium can offer any single community the complete picture.

    There’s no such thing as a ‘fair share’ of advertising support any more than there is a fair share of goals in a football match. You get the goals you work for and you let in the goals the other guys work for.

    Community media need to stop behaving like victims and starting thinking like entrepreneurs.

  • khulumamedia 11:15 am on October 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Measure People not Ships 

    A few months back I joined the bi-annual media pilgrimage to Bryanston Country Club to attend the launch of the final AMPS report and to witness the end of an era.

    For someone who has literally lived and worked with AMPS from cradle to grave, the morning was understandably an emotional one. As marketers though, we need to remove the emotion from the discussion and rationally acknowledge that AMPS had fallen into the trap of trying to please everyone, or rather, AMPS had fallen into the trap of trying not to upset anyone.

    Of course the best way to upset everyone is to initiate change. AMPS worked in the past right, so why bother to change it? The answer is simply that AMPS had to Adapt or Die (with apologies to Tannie Evita) because the way people consume media has changed; and we’re not just talking about changes in technology but changes in the way people relate to the content which that technology delivers.

    To a large degree the problem lies with the term ‘Media Planning’. The problem is that Media Planning implies the place to commence the process, is the medium itself. Research the medium reliably and add all the media numbers together, and you get a result. It’s essentially a throwback to that old chestnut from Marshall McLuhan; The Medium is the Message.

    And so AMPS continued on its mission to measure SHIPS (readerSHIP, viewerSHIP and listenerSHIP) and ignoring the growing imperative to measure people’s behaviour.

    In a world where technology, particularly mobile technology, has ensured that media distribution is ubiquitous however, we are increasingly coming to understand that The Message is the Message and that The Message is Content.

    Increasingly the role of the media planner is not just to maximise the total number of people exposed to the campaign but to maximise the relevance and impact of content delivery at each and every point of contact with the consumer.

    When we look at it from this perspective, we realise that classifying newspapers and magazines, or cinema and television, as separate media channels is an obsolete way of planning. We need to look at this from the consumer’s perspective. Some consumers read (call them reader imperatives). Some consumers listen (listening imperatives). And some consumers are watching imperatives. But the vast majority of consumers do a bit of everything and each behaviour pattern contributes a unique component to the communication Gestalt.

    As planners we need to analyse the consumers content preferences and the media behaviour they exhibit in order to access their priority content. This allows us to break down the media silos that keep our strategic thinking mired in the past and to overcome the challenges of fusing digital and traditional media in any campaign.

    If I am a reader, with a specific content interest in the content, does it make a difference to me whether I read that content in a printed publication or a digital edition on my computer? It is not the fact that the source of my content is printed or delivered via my mobile phone that is significant, it is the content itself. Technology is merely a delivery mechanism which facilitates my reading, it isn’t a separate medium.

    That’s why there should no more be separate media communication strategy for digital than there should be one for electricity.

    The problem is that AMPS was insisting on the need to continue measuring readership, rather than platform agnostic reading as a behaviour. This is clearly illustrated in the old AMPS definition of readership which means that you personally read or paged through all or part of a copy of a publication irrespective of whose copy it was. Even the phrase ‘paged-through’ is suggestive of paper and is essentially a measurement of ink on fingers.

    In the new ES (Establishment Survey) which has gone into field this month, the definition of reading behaviour has been revised to mean that you personally read or looked at any  magazines/ newspapers, articles or websites irrespective of whether they were paper copies, or read online on a computer, cellphone or tablet.

    Much has been made in recent years about declines in circulation and, although there is in fact no direct correlation between readership and circulation, a corresponding decline in AMPS readership of both newspaper and magazines. The real problem is not that AMPS readership of printed publications has showed a decline but that AMPS has simply not been measuring platform agnostic reading of published content.

    The inconvenient truth is that there are more people reading than ever before and the published word is as powerful as ever.

    So as it transpires I went to Bryanston Country Club not to see the end of an era but to herald in the start of a new, more holistic, era where we have finally stopped measuring readership and started to understanding reading.

  • khulumamedia 5:24 pm on March 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s the end of Media Planning as we know it … and you can blame Aki Anastasiou 

    I’ve been thinking really hard about whether to update my book Media Planning – Art or Science? But if I do update it, what should I call it?
    The problem centres on an internal dialogue about whether the term Media Planning still has any meaning. In fact, I wonder whether media planning has an effective role to play in advertising and communication anymore and whether we aren’t training people for a job that will most certainly not exist beyond the Groot Digital Migration. Mind you, at the pace at which Minister Muthambi is moving, I’ll probably have ceased to exist myself. I mean the last Groot Migration took place in ox-waggons but even they were moving at a faster pace than our Faith, despite the fact that they stopped for a braai every night.
    Now the demise of media planning would create a significant problem for me because my Twitter handle @Mzansimedia describes me as “Africa’s oldest surviving media planner” not Africa’s oldest surviving unemployed media planner. And we all know how important Twitter is because if you can Tweet it you can write it! I mean at this stage I have posted 3480 Tweets. That’s 487,200 characters. At an average 10 characters per word, that is 48,720 words. OK, make that 20 characters because of grammatical interference and the fact that these days we have to accommodate big words like programmatic and optimization, which makes 24,360 words. That’s two chapters right there.
    But I digress. The point is that if Media Planning doesn’t exist, what should l call my book?
    Stumped for meaningful solutions I took myself off to listen to the self-styled Geek God Aki Anastasiou address AMASA on the recent global CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. Really fascinating! But as I went from one OMG insight to another, from holograms to self-driving cars, it occurred to me that to leave that forum and commence writing a book which had a separate chapter on Cinema and another on Television, separate chapters on Newspapers and Magazines, and even separate chapters on Radio and Mobile, would be the unthinking act of a supreme Luddite.
    The problem with Media Planning is it implies the place to commence the process, the solution to the communication challenge, is the medium itself. Get the right balance of reach and frequency, add all the media numbers together and you get a result. It’s essentially a throwback to that old chestnut from Marshall McLuhan … The Medium is the Message. If the medium is the indeed the message then the answer must be to just get more media exposure. Preferably for less money of course.
    In a world where media distribution is ubiquitous however, we are increasingly coming to understand that …
    The Message is the Message and that The Message is Content.
    Increasingly the role of the former media planner is to map out the optimal distribution of content across media platforms, whether intuitively or through programmatic planning, not just to maximise the total number of people exposed to the campaign but in order to maximise the relevance and impact of content delivery at each and every point of contact with the consumer.
    When we look at it from this perspective, we realise that classifying newspapers and magazines, or cinema and television, as separate media channels is an obsolete way of planning. We need to look at this from the consumer’s perspective. Some consumers read (call them reader imperatives). Some consumers listen (listening imperatives). And some consumers are watching imperatives. But the vast majority of consumers do everything. They read. They watch. They listen. They interact.
    As planners we need to analyse the consumers content preferences and the media behaviour they exhibit in order to access their priority content. This allows us to break down the media silos that keep our strategic thinking mired in the past and to overcome the challenges of fusing digital and traditional media in any campaign.

    media planning to content mappingIf I am listening, does it make any difference whether I “listen” on a radio or on my mobile phone? If I am a “reader”, with a specific content interest in the news, does it make a difference whether I read the news in a printed newspaper or a digital edition on my computer? It is not the fact that the source of my news is newsprint or the App on my mobile phone that is significant, it is the content itself. And the commercial content placement opportunity that this knowledge creates. Of course new technology allows me to go beyond consuming content and to actually create content. I don’t just read, watch and listen to the news. I have the power to create news. With UGC I am the news.
    The mobile phone is merely a delivery mechanism which facilitates my reading … or my listening … or my watching. It isn’t a separate medium. That’s why there should no more be a chapter in my new book on digital than there should be a chapter on electricity.
    When I rewrite my book there won’t be a chapter on radio. There’ll be a chapter on Listening. No chapter on newspapers. But a chapter on Reading and within that chapter, sections on newspapers, magazines, the internet and mobile. No television chapter but the book will unpack all forms of Watching from television, through cinema and taxi TV, to digital OOH and smartphones.
    That’s why I’m going to be calling my book Content Mapping – Art or Science?
    And I’ll be changing my Twitter handle to @Mzansimedia – Africa’s newest Content Cartographer.

  • khulumamedia 5:39 pm on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    A world without AMPS maybe! But a world without Fred Perry? 

    In view of the alarming standoff between the media-owners and SAARF, I’m often asked to reflect momentarily on a world without AMPS, as there seems to be a perception in some sectors of the media industry that nobody is actually addressing these issues.

    Firstly that perception is incorrect. Interested parties are putting in a massive amount of work behind the scenes to try and preserve the rich heritage of media and marketing information contained in AMPS and I, amongst many others, have been commenting on this for the past 2 years through this blog.  

    The problem is that many people, people who should know better, are confusing the need to preserve the information contained in AMPS with attempts to preserve the legal entity which is SAARF.

    As I have indicated in several blogs AMPS has not been without its shortcomings. Some of those shortcomings may be directly attributable to the intransigence of SAARF’s previous management, others to the inability of traditional research methods to keep pace with quantum change in the manner in which people consume media. Indeed these days the really interesting insights come, not so much from the large sample quantitative evaluation of the consumer’s media consumption, but from a qualitative interpretation of their user generated content.

    Whatever the case though, throwing the baby out with the bath-water is rarely a sound behavioural practice. Certainly it tends to be terminal for the baby and conceiving another baby is very rarely an effective compensation to mother for losing the first one.

    The industry needs to fix AMPS and if in fixing it to everybody’s satisfaction we give it another name, then so be it. For the moment that name seems to be JES (Joint Establishment Survey). Call it Fred if it makes you feel better. If in creating JES we have also to reconstitute SAARF, to make it more inclusive of stakeholders and make its management more transparent, then let’s do that as well. Right now the industry likes the name JIC (Joint Industry Committee) but if it needs a new name, call it Perry.

    You remember Fred Perry? He’s not the last Brit to win the Men’s singles at Wimbledon but he’s certainly the last interesting one.

    Speaking of interests, what then do we want? Very simply as data users, responsible for investing hundreds of millions with media owners, we want …

    • Unrestricted access to media data.
    • Improved and more inclusive sampling
    • Valid and reliable data and this implies media consumption data that is not produced by media-owners for media-owners (my recent blog Radio – The Sounds of Silence refers). In this context, the phrase “publish and be damned” springs to mind. Here’s the bottom line for media owners. When it comes to producing audience figures, you can’t mark your own homework.
    • More transparency in management of data-production and more engagement from both advertisers and media agencies in the process of data creation.

    To a very large degree the impasse between media-owners, marketers and agencies can be attributed to the fact that there has been an increasing juniorisation of the participants in industry based market and media research initiatives, to the detriment of both AMPS and SAARF. So for heaven’s sakes, put the egos aside for the moment and let the big players sit around a table together. As The Economist once observed

    “When you’re brawling on the edge of a cliff the big question is not ‘who is right’ but ‘what the hell are you doing on the edge of a cliff’“.

    So I can conceive of a world without AMPS and SAARF. In fact I can even conceive of a better world without AMPS and SAARF. But I can’t conceive of a world without Fred Perry. I believe in longevity and that even the oldest moth eaten brands & services can be rejuvenated if they are subjected to intelligent and honest scrutiny. You don’t get to stand the test of time (and the AMPS-SAARF model has been around for 40 years) unless the brand has inherent substance. It will need to be refreshed. Sure. Its roll will need to be refined. Sure. But it can endure and it can remain cutting edge.

    You can of course chase after the latest fad but after Morbid Murray’s exit from Wimbledon today, I wonder whether in another 80 years, stylish young people will be aspiring to wear branded Murray gear, as they aspire today to wearing Fred Perry.

    When media owners rush off to create their own little Fred Perry clones, or worse still attempt to create their own alternatives to Wimbledon, they should not expect that somehow media strategists will a posteriori find a way of putting the pieces together again. That is the stuff of fairy tales. And that is something I do know about because unless we get the egotists off the edge of the cliff I’ll be spending the final years of my life in media, not diving headlong into the new and exciting media challenges in Mzansi, but reading Humpty Dumpty stories to my grandchildren (see my earlier blog … The SAARF-AMPS Debacle: Stick ‘em in the naughty corner … or learn to play darts!).

    Now we don’t know whether Humpty Dumpty jumped or whether he was pushed. But we do know one thing. You can’t put him back together again.  

  • khulumamedia 8:38 pm on June 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio and the Sounds of Silence 

    I was listening to radio this morning. That is actually tuned in and listening as opposed to cruising around with a bit of muzak in the background, dodging taxis and trying to time my lane-changes so as to pass through the Nazi-tolls with my car perfectly centred on the dotted lines. To be honest I don’t know if that actually works in terms of confusing the gantries but it’s really good fun watching the drivers in your rear-view mirror attempting the tactic once they’ve figured out what’s going on.

    So, because I was listening I was really intrigued by the evidence led by acoustic engineer Ivan Lin at the Oscar Pistorious trial today. He reminded me of something truly fundamental about the broadcast industry. Something we’ve basically forgotten even though Simon & Garfunkel sang about it a long time ago …

    People talking without speaking

    People hearing without listening.

    The difference between hearing and listening. You know what I’m talking about.

    butt hurt

    Hearing is simply the passive act of perceiving sound via the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired then “hearing” simply happens.

    Listening on the other hand is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes and constructs meaning from words, sound & sentences. Listening leads to learning and is arguably the pre-cursive state for “theatre of the mind” to exist. And as we all know, “theatre of the mind” is the cornerstone of creative radio. Or so the RAB keeps telling us anyway.

    When we consider that one the most fundamental assumptions in media planning is that people consume media despite the presence of advertising not because of it, we come to understand that, when we are talking radio, most people are “hard of listening” rather than “hard of hearing”.

    When it comes to using media research data however, in our desperate desire to win over the hearts and minds of procurement executives, most media decision-makers have become obsessed with the reliability of the data rather than applying their minds to understanding the validity. And if you don’t know the difference between reliable research data and valid research data, I’ll see you at the AMASA Weekend Workshop next month.

    Most of us are so used to accepting the standard definitions of media consumption that we have forgotten to interrogate what they actually mean. If we consider the current definition of radio listenership embraced by the industry …

    “By listen we mean that you personally listened to the radio. It may be all of a programme or only part of it. It doesn’t matter whether it was your own radio or somebody else’s. Nor does it matter where you listened to it.”

    we have to wonder whether we are not in fact measuring “hearing” rather than “listening”.

    Of course one of the key advantages of reporting the “hearership” of a radio station, rather than some measure of active listenership, is that the reported audience figures will remain high. And as we all know, the higher the hearership the higher the advertising rate. It’s a grand system. As long as you keep the data reliable (and radio data in Mzansi is reliable to the point of terminal predictability) and control the qualitative variables, you can be sure nobody is going to derail the procurement train. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to the print industry’s firm commitment to a definition of readership which has almost reached the laughable point where there is an inverse correlation between circulation and readership.

    Best way to do this of course, is to own the research data.

    So when the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Mzansi gives the marketing, advertising and media industry the middle finger, as they have done, and sets off to create a new audience currency that better suits their commercial needs, you have to question whether it’s their intention to continue measuring “hearing” (which will keep those audience numbers & ad-rates nice and high) or whether they intend to catch the ROMI train with the rest of the media world by attempting to measure the actual impact of radio (which is a function of active listening) on any communication plan.

    On reflection, I’m pretty sure I can work out which route the NAB will favour, despite the fact that increased radio audiences will translate into an increased expectation of in-market response amongst agencies and marketers. And increased expectation will lead to under-delivery (not in procurement terms but in marketing and advertising terms) and ultimately the demise of the medium as an effective communication tool because radio stations are selling listeners and delivering hearers.

    Actually advertisers are beginning to figure this out but many have arrived at the wrong conclusion in response. Witness to this fact is the almost complete erosion of the traditional 30s radio spot in favour of massively expensive activations. Most radio activations are little more than advertisers paying a premium to convert hearers to listeners, by giving away their margins, in order to fund payment for the total audience, which of course includes the hearers the advertisers weren’t interested in the first place.

    It’s a sad indictment of the media industry in Mzansi that it remains so firmly committed to selling (and I guess buying for that matter) the LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) of so-called listenership, viewership and readership at a discount, when they should be taking a leaf out of the digital book and selling the HCD (Highest Common Denominator) at a premium. If the digital industry was run by broadcasters in Mzansi, they would still be trying to flog page impressions to advertisers.

    But hey! We’re all fans of the next shiny thing. It’s so much more fun starting something new than it is to polish up the previous, and admittedly tarnished, shiny thing. As Paul and Art sang …

    And the people bowed and prayed, To the neon god they made.

    And the sign flashed out its warning,

    In the words that it was forming.

    And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

    And tenement halls.

    And whispered in the sounds of silence

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