R5.2 Billion wasted on ad spend thus far in 2016 (Millward Brown South Africa)

Wasteful ad spending in South Africa, according to Millward Brown

A multinational market research company recently announced a shocking finding on the wastage of ad spend in South Africa. Despite many critics mentioning that TV is dead, it is still a fact that TV spend dominates media budgets in South Africa. According to Nielsen, in May 2016 the South African TV ad spend for 2016 was at R9 Billion ($665mil USD).

Millward Brown, using their CrossMedia database, stated that 58% (R5.2 Billion / $384mil USD) of all ads flighted between January and July 2016 did not “resonate effectively with consumers”. 16% (R1.4 Billion / $103mil USD) of all ads “achieved below average cut through at launch”. By achieving a below average cut through, the ad would literally have little to no impact in market, meaning that there will be almost no ROI. Lastly, 42% (R3.8 Billion / $281mil USD) of ad spend achieved average cut through, which as Millward Brown puts it, “...that brands have gambled with”.

Specifically looking at the cosmetics category, 63% of all ads tracked achieved below average noting among the lower income consumers, which means that out of every $10 spent on TV, $7 was wasted.


Here are a few of our thoughts on why the scores are so low for South Africa:


1) International Brands Still Sending Global Creative - a well intended desire to control the quality and standards of a global brand from a central headquarters often leads to ads and campaign concepts that are not relevant in the South African context. Whether they are coming from Germany, USA, France, Japan or the UK, ads that are not tailored to local markets will have a harder time finding acceptance than locally produced or at least locally tested ads. Of course there are some universal concepts that transcend geographic boundaries, but tactical elements (casting, voice over, scenery, music) are hard to make generic enough to cover all markets. Check out our article on copy and creative testing in Africa.


2) No External Feedback During the Creative Process - Even though what internally feels like solid creative ideas and execution paths for campaigns, external validation is still critical. External feedback from consumer focus groups or professional panels allows to recalibrate to see if the intended campaign objective and brand role will be best served by the creative. It is important to get that right before moving into production. Most South African brands do not have the tools or budget to test at early stages of the campaign process (storyboards, animatics, photomatics) which ironically is where research shows external feedback would have the most impact on strengthening creative direction and tactical elements.

3) Good Creative Ideas Distorted in the Client Review and Internal Feedback Process - Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the impact of a poorly run internal creative review or client/agency review session can have on the outcomes of campaigns. No scoring system from a market research provider can override the final opinion from decision makers and the stakeholders along the way. This can come in the form of opposing viewpoints from the agency and client. Or, it can simply be a form of researcher bias, that is that different decision makers interpret the findings from a creative evaluation test differently and therefore provide different suggestions for changes. “Feedback”, therefore, can have dramatic influence over the final outcome of a campaign.

Most marketing research vendors follow a advertising philosophy that has been proven throughout the decades. Cut through consists of two elements:

1) A campaign needs sufficient investment to drive enough exposure within the specific target market, and;

2) The creative needs to stand out in order to drive brand engagement and communicate its core messages effectively.

At delvv.io we believe in the same philosophy, with emphasis on strong creative driving ad effectiveness. We believe that by having a breakthrough big idea, and executing that idea in the way it was intended, can have a massive positive impact on a brand equity and sales. We believe that by getting external feedback (through tools like our Sense Check product) in the creative development stage is vital to ensure a strong creative idea stays strong. If you agree, we're happy to help with professional creative feedback, to ensure your concept resonates with consumers, that it remains relevant to your target market and most importantly, give it the best chance to cut through effectively.