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Finding a logical starting point for an analysis of platforms means challenging the traditional understanding of media planning. 

The misleading thing about media planning is that it implies that the medium itself is the place to start the process. It’s essentially a throwback to the old chestnut from Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”, which suggests that the media planner must simply get more media exposure, preferably for less money. Get the right balance of reach and frequency, add all the media numbers together, and you’ll get a result. 

However, in a world where media distribution is ubiquitous, we are coming to understand that “the message is the message” and equally that “the message is content”. Increasingly, the role of media strategists is mapping out the optimal distribution of content across media platforms. This 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  point of the consumer interface — not least of all at the point of purchase, whether that is in-store or online. 

What is content mapping? 

The content mapping approach is reinforced by the 2020 World Federation of Advertisers Project Spring initiative, which sets out to create a “value in” instead of “cost out” approach to media buying. It’s a global best-practice approach towards computing actual return on media investment (ROMI) rather than the value of discount savings. 

Attribution modelling means that maintaining share of consciousness, rather than a relatively competitive ad spend share of voice, becomes the yardstick of success. In the future, trying to sell media based primarily on audience size and discounted cost-efficiencies will be like running an advertisement for Dunkin’ Donuts in a Tim Noakes Banting diet guidebook. 

We need to look at media from the consumer’s perspective:

  • some consumers read (call them reading imperatives); 
  • some consumers listen (listening imperatives); and 
  • some consumers are watching or viewing imperatives. 

But most consumers do everything — reading, watching and listening. They interact, and often do it all at the same time or at least with no behavioural consciousness of shifting across channels.

Media strategists need to analyse people’s content preferences and media consumption behaviour to discern their content priorities. This allows us to break down the traditional media silos that are a barrier to holistic communication.

What’s on the box on content viewing? 

To start seeing the dynamics of the SA media platforms clearly, let’s look at socioeconomic measure (SEM) data on the TV landscape. 

TV viewing is ubiquitous in SA: 92% of all people (87% in the traditional market referred to as SEM C1) have watched TV in the past seven days. This exceeds claimed radio listenership (87%) over the same period, which raises questions about that medium’s traditional claims to deliver inaccessible market segments not reached by other media. 

Looking beyond the reach offered by TV allows us to assess the impact of the viewing platform and the holistic viewing experience on the impact of any advertising message. 

On average, over 90% of all homes have a TV set (80% in SEM C1 according to the “Establishment Survey 2019”) but the functionality of those sets varies dramatically across the SEM spectrum. Ninety-seven percent of SEM C5 (elite market) adults that have viewed TV in the past seven days have a flat-screen/HD set in the home, compared with 12% in SEM C1. The inverse distribution pattern applies to standard box TV sets, where they represent three out of every four sets (72%) in SEM C1. 

This has a significant impact on visual impact for any TV.

A cellular view of content viewing

The only media platform with reach levels to rival TV is the mobile device, as 98% of all adults have access to a cellphone, according to the “Establishment Survey 2019”. 

When it comes to cellphones, the real differentiator is functionality. The incidence of smartphones is at its highest in SEM C5 (94%), declining steadily down the SEM spectrum. Even at the low end of the market, one in every two cellphones (49%) is a smartphone. Ninety-two percent of people accessing the internet in the past week have done so using a smartphone, while only 12% used a desktop or laptop computer.

Ultimately, access to the internet and always-on access via a cellphone redefines the nature of content viewing, and the concept of the lean-in single-screen viewing experience is obsolete. 

Most South Africans (95%) still watch traditional live TV broadcasts, but the intrusion of subscriber TV and digital technology becomes apparent as we progress up the SEM scale. 

In SEM C1, only 12% of TV viewers watch some form of VDTV (viewer-determined TV) or as it is sometimes known, TV on demand (TVOD). Eight out of every 10 TV viewers in SEM C1 (84%) are reliant exclusively on traditional TV broadcast format. Very few people are exclusively reliant on VDTV (3%). 

The ratio of live TV to VDTV shifts dramatically from SEM C4, where 27% watch both TV formats. By the time we reach SEM C5, the balance between live TV and viewer scheduled engagement is almost a 50/50 balance. Much of this VDTV activity is still fuelled by the market-dominant DStv offering, and even in SEM C1 one in five viewers (21%) is a DStv subscriber. 

DStv drives these low-end subscriptions through offering subscriber packages such as DStv Access (R110 a month) and DStv EasyView (R29 a month) packages, which offer inter alia the “free channels” SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and e.tv.

The continued erosion of DStv positioning as an exclusive top-end TV viewing platform is clearly illustrated within the SEM segmentation model. SEM C5 may still account for 62% of subscribers to the DStv Premium bouquet, but this segment only accounts for 16% of total DStv subscribers. SEM C1 (8%) and SEM C2 (15%) collectively account for more DStv subscribers than the top-end cluster.

So it comes as no surprise that the three most-viewed channels on DStv are SABC1, SABC2 and e.tv. Outside this mix, the first exclusively DStv offering is Mzansi Bioskop, which further illustrates the changing nature of the PayTV market. 

These dynamics make it clear that from a content mapping perspective, it’s important to go beyond “cost-out” size of audience considerations and embrace the “value in” contribution of individual viewing platforms and content offerings.

In the next segment of this blog series for marketers, Ebony+Ivory reviews platforms in the context of content listening and reading in SA.

Make your targets by getting your brand to the right audience. 

Contact Ebony+Ivory here >>> 

About the Ebony+Ivory Marketing Segmentation SA Series

Drawing data and insights from the most recently published industry database PAMS 2019 (released April 2020) and the Nielsen Fusion Study 2020 (released November 2020), Ebony+Ivory interrogates the SEM model through four lenses: people and places, purchasing power, products and platforms.

This article was paid for by Ebony+Ivory.

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