Commercial television took another beating this week as the biggest
survey of UK advertisers showed growing dissatisfaction with the quality
of television programming.
The survey by independent media consultancy Media Audits, representing
the views of advertisers who spend a total of pounds 664 million a year,
shows that just over a quarter have cut their 1996 spend with ITV as a
result of poor audience share in 1995. Advertisers are particularly
critical of ITV’s failure to deliver quality sports programming due to
BSkyB’s acquisition of major sporting rights, which they claim is
affecting their ability to reach upmarket, youth and male audiences.
The Media Audits survey is just the latest blow to commercial TV, which
was criticised by the Independent Television Commission last week in its
Annual Performance Reviews report. The magazine industry also stuck the
boot in this week when the Periodical Publishers’ Association used new
research to boast that people are watching less television.
The root cause for advertiser concern, according to the Media Audits
survey, is a feeling that they are not getting value for money. With TV
inflation running rife and advertisers getting less impact for their
pound, this frustration with commercial TV is not surprising.
Advertisers are under pressure internally to justify their budgets as
marketing spends increasingly come under the spotlight.
Indeed the survey found that advertisers’ budgets are set to rise, on
average, by only three per cent this year, down from six per cent growth
in 1995. This falls short of media inflation which is predicted at ten
per cent for TV and five per cent for press during 1996.
Hardly surprisingly, the survey shows that a number of advertisers are
putting pressure on TV companies to provide better value for money.
Nearly a third said they were prepared to vote with their pockets, with
27 per cent willing to reduce TV’s share of their media budget in their
quest for value for money.
They are now turning to other options with 41 per cent saying they use
the Internet, 23 per cent CD-ROMs, 20 per cent direct response TV and 16
per cent in-store terminals.
There are also subtle messages of particular importance to PR agencies,
with indications in the respondents’ views to suggest that advertisers
are now more willing to give a larger slice of budgets to PR for
achieving media exposure, provided it gives value for money and can be
evaluated. PR is increasingly being seen by some advertisers as integral
to the total marketing effort.
However, like TV advertising spends, it is still failing to find ways to
prove its worth. Of the 60 per cent of survey respondents who said they
measure the effectiveness of their PR, only half were happy with the way
they measure it - or one third of UK advertisers.
PR may have been in the shadow of the big bucks TV advertising for
years, but with a question mark now hanging over its value, the timing
couldn’t be better for PR agencies to restate their case for being able
to achieve cost effective media exposure.