Traditional vs new marketing methods

The Super Bowl XLVI puts television advertising on the radar – is paying out $3.5 million for a 30 second spot really justified when digital marketing comes at a fraction of that cost?

There’s nothing like a Super Bowl to put television advertising firmly on the radar, as far afield as the southern tip of Africa, even if you’ve started consuming most of your media online. At $3.5 million for 30 seconds, and up to $4 million for the premium slots, brands must still be seeing value in this traditional marketing method.

But what does this mean for companies trying to work out whether to stick with the tried and tested traditional marketing methods vs. embracing the brave new world of digital media, in all its fresh-out-the-box shiny glory?

Let’s start at the beginning and take a look at the numbers, using South Africa and its 50 million-odd population as an example: TV penetration per household was sitting at around 72 percent in 2012 and currently Generations, the most popular TV show in the country, gets around 6 million viewers a week according to TAMS (television audience measurement survey) ratings. Radio is the giant, with 88.5 percent of South African adults listening to the radio per week, spending more than 3.5 hours listening per day, according to RAMS (radio audience measurement survey) stats. The largest South African radio station, Ukhozi, has in excess of 6.6 million listeners per week. Total circulation of the 836 members of the Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC) in South Africa is a notch over 34.5 million readers – although these are unlikely to be unique.

Now let’s move into the digital camp and take a look at the reach here: according to the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) member sites saw 12.9 million unique browsers, accessing 424.4 million page views, but this comes from a base of around 6 million internet users. In addition, there were 1.5 million mobile unique browsers accessing 40.3 million mobile page views. Mobile penetration is famously sitting at more than 100 percent – although this doesn’t mean that every South African has a cell phone, with many people owning more than one SIM card. The country has 4.8 million registered Facebook users – just less than 10 percent of the total population and 91 percent of the total online population.

While these stats are in no way meant to be an apples-for-apples comparison, what do they show us? At the very simplest level, the Super Bowl advertisers are right – stick to traditional advertising channels to reach the largest audience.

But wait a minute. Why does Forrester predict that online ad spend will eclipse TV spend in the next four years? Closer to home, a DMMA report says that while advertisers currently allocate 10.7 percent of their current annual media budget to digital platforms, “this far higher than what [they had] assumed for years”.

It’s not so simple, is it?

Read the rest of my article on African Business Review