By Sinenhlanhla Jalibane for The MediaShop
Loadshedding has once again become one of the most used buzzwords in South Africa. While we wait for government to attain a better solution to their “technical problems” and revert with plans to overcome this crisis, loadshedding continues to have dire implications on everyone, particularly for television advertisers and broadcasters.
Advertising budgets have already been reduced but now with the power out, what does this mean for advertisers, and the media industry in general?
1. Viewership decreases
Television indisputably remains the largest media consumption channel in South Africa. It is still the most effective way of reaching a higher number of audiences at a high frequency. However, it is no secret that such media platforms are highly affected by loadshedding.
Viewership is a client’s first concern when there is a blackout. It means that millions of South African TV households are off, reducing the potential TV audience of a particular channel or programme which has a huge effect for advertisers.
We have been experiencing stage 2 and 4 of loadshedding recently. With that said, it is imperative to remember that having these power cuts means not reaching a household for at least two or more hours during each blackout. This is of serious concern especially when power is cut during prime time, which decreases viewership even more significantly. It results in adverts only being seen by a handful of people, who might not even be the target audience for the brand being advertised, which is then seen as wastage by many.
Britta Reid commented on a research article in 2019 published on The MediaOnline from The Broadcast Research Council, on how adult ARs for the 18h00 and 20h00 dayparts were affected. She commented that about 2% of adults on the BRC TAMS panel were flagged as having experienced power cuts during stage two, compared with 15% of adults during stage four . This equates to a huge number of audiences being lost due to loadshedding and it doesn’t seem like it will get any better.
2. Concern over reach
Secondly, clients have become sceptical about whether their brand will be seen by the right audiences as loadshedding makes it difficult to plan schedules. I remember once when Eskom had promised two hours of loadshedding but it went off for 3h30mins. This left me wondering how many TV adverts were being aired during this time that I would have missed.
Clients will (if they haven’t already) start questioning the value they are getting from advertising if they lose audiences during loadshedding.
Yes brands are aware that performance will be affected (not that they’re happy about it) but there is unfortunately nothing that marketers and broadcasters can do at this point, as it is beyond their control.
3. Even digital is affected
Lastly, cell phone network coverage has also been getting disrupted and it seems this will continue to be the case during our electricity crisis. It’s making our jobs as marketers even more difficult. Just as we were trying to chase audiences in the digital space, it is now going to be harder to reach them whenever we’d like to.
We all love our smartphones, but their battery life is not as great as we’d like it to be. Power banks and portal chargers can help sustain battery life, but with port connectivity it seems like it would be a struggle to get advertising messages across audiences.
People would also rather save their battery to ensure for instance that their alarm wakes them up in the morning, rather than to scroll through their phones only to come across adverts that will deplete their battery even further.
So what do we do?
While the country has enjoyed a few days of no loadshedding now, there is still an unnerving sense of uncertainty around Eskom’s sustainability. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his SONA 2020 address that the Eskom issue was unavoidable. This shows that we’ve got a long way to go and for brands, we need to think of alternative ways to reach our audiences.
It seems like the old school “wireless” radios would be of good use at this point for people to still consume news during loadshedding and this, without a doubt will cause an increase in listenership on the radio.
Maybe it’s also time to put more faith into apps such as EskomSePush to plan around most areas that are experiencing loadshedding to ensure audiences are not lost. Imagine scheduling adverts to be aired on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at the same peak time as loadshedding is scheduled? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
When the going gets tough … the marketing budget gets slashed. It’s an age-old truism that marketing activities are among the first to be cut back during austere times. It’s also often the wrong thing to do, said Nona Koza, Business Partner at Oliver South Africa.
“It’s a mistake that brands make worldwide. Research shows the contrary is true: if you keep up your brand activity during austere times, when the economy swings up again you make a lot more money. The reason why is something we often forget: consumers buy a value. It’s a promise of what that brand is going to deliver. In tough times, when the brand becomes less prominent, it comes across as a lack of empathy. Your customers are struggling – where are you?”
Customers, just like companies, are more frugal and value-conscious when the economy is down. So, it is ironic that by underplaying your brand during such periods, you are taking important signs of confidence away from your customers. Hence why cutting back on brand positioning as a cost-saving measure is often self-defeating.
But slashing budgets need not be the only strategy. Hard times are an opportunity to revisit marketing strategies and ask if there is a better way to do things – and yes, there is. Through an on-site approach, organisations can radically improve their marketing activity. This is crucial for the above considerations: to keep customers close in a tough economy, you want a marketing approach that operates on close proximities and immersion with them.
“What you want to pursue is customer retention,” explained Koza. “How are your customers using your products? Who are your best customers? How do you reach them more directly? For example, the cost of one billboard can cover several breakfast events with key customers. The key thing here is targeted customer engagement and much more face to face interaction.”
Targeted engagement is just one side of this strategy. The other is to develop an agile marketing pipeline that is engaged with the business. Brand activities should align with business strategy and expectations. If your marketing people are not there in the trenches, meeting customers alongside other staff, grasping the roadmap and moving with its requirements, your branding efforts will struggle.
External marketing agencies are often too removed from the business coalface to achieve this. Internal marketing can, however represent an incredible cost centre. This challenge has given rise to a third model – the on-site agency.
“Unlike an external agency, an on-site agency works at the customer’s premises,” Gabrielle Gray, Executive Creative Director at Oliver South Africa explained. “Its people are there to engage with the business at every level – from chatting at the water cooler to sitting in on important meetings. And unlike internal agencies, an on-site agency manages marketing operations such as talent acquisition externally. You get the best of both agency models, but without the drawbacks.”
Oliver is pioneering the on-site agency model. It works with customers to create internal teams from Oliver’s own ranks, based at the customer’s premises to ensure the types of engagements described above. Complementary to any other internal or external marketing functions, on-site agencies improve delivery times, move with the customer business, help align marketing with business objectives, and brings the nuance needed to woo the business’ clients.
In difficult times, such a personal touch is important. Customers want to see it from their brands, and those brands need it from their agencies. Cutting back on brand positioning is not the right strategy during tough times. But branding can be done differently: customer-focused touch points and engagements, pop-up events, tailored digital messages – these are crucial tools. The on-site approach offers significantly better engagement and brand performance at the budgets of traditional marketing, since it works intimately with the organisation to become on-premise brand partners and it can leverage creative resources like no other.
“Traditional approaches do work for some companies,” said Gray. “However, what we find is the immediacy of being on-site, a client being able to walk over to us and say, ‘I’ve had this idea, how can we execute it? What do you think?’ – this is a very good way to deliver on business objectives. As a result, we understand the customer’s business better and, in turn, the customer is more involved with brand activities. ”
A new advertising campaign is challenging the product transparency of South Africa’s financial institutions, and educating consumers in the process.
The #NothingToHide hashtag has been popping up all over the media lately, prompting consumers to question just how much local credit providers are keeping from them when it comes to credit life insurance pricing and terms & conditions.
The billboards anonymously challenged banks to be more transparent.
An unbranded teaser message ran for two weeks, before it was unveiled that the campaign was developed for Yalu Financial Services by advertising agency Think Creative Africa.
Yalu is challenging South Africa’s dominant financial brands to become more open about their products so customers are clear about every detail of the contract.
“Product transparency and consumer education go hand in hand,” says Tlalane Ntuli, co-founder and chief operating officer of Yalu. “Only when consumers are aware of how murky things are and how much money they are potentially losing will they demand greater transparency from banks – and only then will credit life insurance providers be forced to improve.
“It’s too easy to call for change, yet sit back and do nothing yourself,” concludes Ntuli. “At Yalu we see this campaign as our opportunity to set a new transparency benchmark in the South African financial sector. From strategic decisions through to product pricing and the way brands choose to communicate with consumers, change is very obviously required in our financial sector. We’re delighted to be the ones leading the process.”
By Gerry Smith for Bloomberg
Tech giants like Google and Facebook are threatening the media business by capturing a growing share of advertising dollars.
Yet many of those companies, which made fortunes selling highly targeted online ads, have become big buyers of a decidedly low-tech medium: print advertising.
“If you look now at companies like Netflix and Google, we’re seeing our biggest print advertisers now tend to be these digitally native companies that want to announce something to the world,” New York Times Chief Operating Officer Meredith Kopit Levien said Monday at an investor conference. “So there’s irony in that.”
Despite the shifting media landscape, it’s still hard to match the prestige of the Gray Lady, Levien said.
“There are things that an ad in the New York Times does for a marketer that there isn’t another vehicle,” she said.
The Trade Desk, an online ad marketplace, bought ads in both the New York Times and News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal in September. But the tech company poked fun at its own campaign.
“Possibly the worst ad we’ll ever run,” the company said in the announcement. It then plugged its own “more targeted, data-driven approach” to buying ads.
For the Times, Silicon Valley ad campaigns may not be enough to revive the print business, which has been shrinking for years as readers move online. But it has helped stem some of the bleeding.
The Times’ print advertising revenue was roughly flat last quarter, after falling about 12% in the second quarter and 2% in the first quarter. The growth of digital subscriptions, meanwhile, has helped make investors more confident about the 167-year-old business. The stock is up 45% this year.
By Todd Shields , Gerry Smith and Sarah Frier for Bloomberg
Even before ballots are counted from Tuesday’s elections, some clear winners have emerged, as Google and Facebook reap windfalls from political advertising after a season of controversy over online political speech.
Political ad spending is on course to set a record, exceeding expenditures in the 2016 presidential election year, with a total of perhaps $9 billion. Political ad buyers weren’t deterred by months of furor over election meddling by Russians using Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google and YouTube.
“This was a test year for political digital,” says Kip Cassino, who works with research firm Borrell Associates after retiring as its executive vice president. “What they wanted to see was how many ads could they put on digital without people getting really upset.”
Digital ad spending rose more than 25-fold from the last non-presidential national elections in 2014, reaching 20 percent of expected political spending this year at almost $1.8 billion, according to estimates compiled by Borrell. Kantar Media/CMAG, which omits some online activity, estimated 2018 online spending at $900 million, up from $250 million four years ago.
The figures show how digital sites, with their ability to target thin slices of the electorate, have assumed a prime place alongside traditional media such as broadcast TV, which is still prized for reaching large numbers of older voters likely to go the polls and accounts for the largest amount of political ad spending.
Kantar estimated providers such as Tegna Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. would see political ad revenue rise to $2.7 billion, up 30 percent compared with 2014. When local races are included, broadcast stations saw a decline in political advertising compared with 2014, to $3.5 billion, but remain the top recipient, according to Borrell’s estimates.
Local cable TV advertising sold by the likes of Comcast Corp. or Charter Communications Inc. was expected to jump 75 percent compared with four years ago, Kantar said.
“Everybody killed it this year,” said Steven Passwaiter, a vice president with Kantar, which monitors political ads.
On Tuesday, Gray Television Inc., which owns more than 100 local broadcast TV stations in smaller markets such as Augusta, Georgia and Omaha, Nebraska, said third-quarter political ad revenue was up 17 percent compared with the same quarter in 2014. That included a windfall four years ago from a hotly-contested senate race in Alaska, executives said.
“Political advertising remains quite alive and exceptionally healthy,” Gray Chief Executive Officer Hilton Howell said on an earnings call. Gray executives said political ad spending exceeded their expectations in states like Tennessee, Kansas and Florida.
Media24 has announced it is ending its publishing arrangement with global internet media brand, HuffPost.
In a statement on its website, HuffPost SA said: “Today Media24 and HuffPost announce plans to mutually end its SA licence.”
The company said it was a routine decision and was being made despite “strong” audience numbers because advertising revenues were “challenging”.
The statement quoted Esmaré Weideman, CEO of Media24 saying: “We regularly review our portfolio of brands. The HuffPost SA audience numbers are strong and consistently hold steady on the list of top-10 news sites in SA. HuffPost SA was an important new voice in South African journalism and attracted a fresh new audience.
“Advertising revenues for HuffPost in SA have, however, been challenging. As an innovative and responsible business, we will continue to respond effectively to the market’s needs and explore new digital opportunities.”
The story said staff members were “being consulted”.
By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC
Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising. The move follows a similar ban by Facebook earlier this year. The company will no longer allow ads about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice across any of its ad platforms.
The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.
That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.
This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.
“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said.
Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year.
While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.
This news comes as Google releases its annual “trust and safety” ads report.
Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.
Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84 percent of its total revenue from advertising, so convincing advertisers that its ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important.
By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced a major revamp of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to prioritise content shared by friends and family, and demote branded posts from publishers and businesses.
It seems that after pushing Facebook as a source of trending news, Dr. Zuckenstein is horrified by his own creation. And, after a year of trying unsuccessfully to police false and click-baity news, he’s given up on trying to control his monster — now, he’s killing it off.
Here’s how it affects the the major parties involved: publishers, Facebook, and its 2B+ users.
FB-based publishers are screwed
Publishers like Elite Daily, LAD Bible, and the approximately one jillion meme pages that rely on promoted Facebook posts to drive site traffic, will likely see a huge decrease in audience reach.
That said, most established, “premium” publishers are more balanced in their sources of Web traffic, and have been quick to highlight that Facebook doesn’t owe anything to publishers who chose to hinge their entire business on a third party platform.
In the words of Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, “Facebook is a public company that controls its own decisions… Publishers should do the same d*mn thing.”
Facebook’s market cap took a $25bn hit
In their decision to commit to “bringing people closer together,” Facebook is effectively choosing to slow their own growth for the sake of society (and their brand reputation).
Theoretically, the change means they’ll make less money off publishers and advertisers (their stock dropped 5% following the news).
In Zuck’s own words, it could also mean that people may spend less time on Facebook.
You’re gonna see a lot more of Aunt Sally’s DIY craft posts
Remember the simpler days of Facebook? You know, back when people posted innocent statuses about things they were doing like, “going to see How To Train Your Dragon! I love movie popcorn!”
Well, we can’t turn back the clock, but we will start seeing more posts from friends in our feed. With a caveat: highly shared and liked articles will still rise to the top. So the “tag a friend who needs this!” articles could still prosper.
Source: The Hustle
Words matter. People may not read everything, but they do scan. And they process information subconsciously at lightning speeds to determine if they’ll click or bounce within a few fractions of a second.
While some words (like “Submit” on your button) may seem innocent enough, they could be costing you dearly, turning away visitors in droves.
Here’s why, along with a few other conversion-sabotaging words you need to replace in your e-mails, ads, and landing pages ASAP.
“Submit” is a derivation of submission. And therein lies the problem. There’s a negative connotation with yielding to someone or something superior. People, as a general rule, don’t like yielding.
This was proven definitively years and years ago by Dan Zarella and HubSpot. They took a look at the conversion rates of over 40 000 customer landing pages and quickly noticed a huge discrepancy.
When call to action (CTA) buttons included the word “submit,” conversion rates tended to drop immediately by a few percentage points.
Use words like “click here” or “go” instead.
What’s the fastest way to learn terrible copywriting? Get an MBA.
Because in just a few short weeks, you’ll find yourself spewing out “synergy,” “competencies,” and a host of other clichéd, meaningless words that have old professors nodding their heads in approval.
As evidence, go visit almost any B2B website outside of marketing and advertising. Your eyes will glaze over, your face will contort, and a sudden bout of narcolepsy might hit at any moment.
Many times, clients and bosses don’t notice anything wrong at first either. The problem with “best in class” and all other common business jargon (besides the fact that it also appears on every competitor’s Web site) is that customers can detect that the company is talking nonsense.
Research shows that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard. Generally, the level of reading comprehension is low. People aren’t focusing or reading online; they’re scanning and multitasking and browsing and tweeting while looking at your page.
Rewrite anything with the faintest resemblance to what you learned in school.
Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of “greymail” e-mails each day. Trillions are being sent by marketers each year. So you’d think, logically speaking, that assuring visitors you won’t spam them would help conversions. Unfortunately that’s not the case. “Spam” is a huge stop word — or no no — that causes
people to become apprehensive and hesitate.
A test carried out by Michael Aargaard showed the surprising ramifications. He added the seemingly harmless line of “100% privacy — we will never spam you” in between the form fields and submission button.
Typically, these extra credibility indicators surrounding a CTA can help to give conversions a nice little boost. But not in this case, and it backfired by over 18%.
Try assurances like “Your information will not be shared.”
Avoid words with a negative connotation (as we saw with “submit”) in general, and use additional messaging to reinforce the positive aspects of what someone is about to get.
“We” opens a door. It’s like the gateway drug of bad copywriting. One small hit, and you’re quickly off to dabbling with bigger, badder things.
While it might seem harmless at the time, “we” puts you on a path to jonesing for a fix of “synergy” and “best in class” in no time.
But keep in mind, that as a general rule, people don’t care about you. Instead, they want a “better version of themselves.”
This is especially so for all those visiting your site at the top of the funnel, who haven’t realized a need for your product or service yet. They’re Googling solutions for drilling a hole in their wall so they can hang a picture… they’re not looking for a drill (just yet).
That means the focus of messaging should be centered around a problem and solution, not a tool, product or service.
Instead of “we” begin with “you” or don’t use a pronoun at all (like a question or a command/call to action).
The copy on most web sites is written in the second person. And that’s a good thing! Copywriters are taught to use “you” instead of “they” when explaining the benefits derive from the latest product or service.
However, there are exceptions. When focusing on a CTA or specific conversion event, the “possessive determiner” should switch back to first person.
Another test from Michael Aagaard proves the point. Michael initially thought that “your” in the CTA button copy would work best. But he found an almost a 25% difference, just by switching a single word – from “your free trial” to “my free trial”.
Switching to “my” gives people ownership of the benefit they’re about to receive.
You’d think, on the surface, that “free” increases conversions. And it does in most cases. The last example a few seconds ago used a “free trial” to generate more interest (and clicks). But there are exceptions.
The first (albeit tiny) issue is that the word “free” can trip up spam filters in email messaging. The second, bigger problem though is a curious case of over-optimisation. The problem is that more conversions isn’t always better. A Totango study showed that 70% of the people who sign up for free trials are useless, with
only around 20% of those actively evaluating the product.
So while the word “free” can (and will) increase initial conversions, you should be optimising for sales and revenue — not vanity metrics like leads or impressive (but hollow) conversion rates.
‘Save time and money’
So far we’ve seen that vague, meaningless, overly generic phrases are bad for conversions. The culmination of them all — the cherry on top and the pièce de résistance — is “save time and money”.
This phrase breaks one of the very first rules of copywriting that says you should write to a particular audience.
Roll up your sleeves and dig a little deeper into who you’re speaking to, and what they value most.
The key is to ferret out those few ingredients that make your offering awesome & unique, which both audiences value. You want the stuff that overlaps, which will help you create a specific value proposition that reinforces your primary aim (of driving conversions), while avoiding the same generic message showing up on each of your competitor’s Web sites.
Mall advertising is effective in building brands, gaining increased exposure and providing a tangible and lasting presence with shoppers.