How to understand the raging media wars
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-12-27
To understand the big fuss about leadership claims in the media industry, one has to understand that fortunes are made by simply being ranked number 1, whether on Television, Radio or Print media.

Thus, it’s not surprising that ABS-CBN and GMA Network are struggling to be the undisputed number 1 in Television ratings while the Philippine STAR and Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) are locked in the same struggle for Print circulation supremacy.

Different issues

Different issues are involved in the ABS-CBN-GMA ratings controversy and the issue that the PDI (the complaint was filed by the PDI and the Manila Bulletin) raised against the STAR in the Adboard.

In a nutshell, ABS-CBN claimed that the TV industry advertising yardstick, the AGB-Nielsen metered homes, has been infiltrated in a specific area and that distorted ratings are now being used by the ad industry when allocating ad shares.

The core issue of the PDI and Bulletin complaint focused on a STAR ad’s claim that: “More advertisers are reaching consumers through The Philippine STAR than any other major daily.”

The PDI and the Bulletin do not question the fact that the STAR is number 1 in ad shares (display ad revenues) but are contesting the interpretation that STAR provides the greater reach.

STAR ad is fact supported

The STAR ad has solid facts to support its claims. In its December 22 rebuttal, the STAR stated: “The advertisement visualized data from the Nielsen Media Research Advertising Information dated October 2007 showing that The STAR cornered 46 percent of print advertising billings for the month compared to Inquirer’s 37 percent and Manila Bulletin’s 17 percent.

Even the Adboard upheld that the Nielsen data is “acceptable and factual.” Where ABS-CBN now questions the AGB Nielsen TV Ratings, the PDI and Bulletin are not contesting the Nielsen findings that STAR is number 1 in ad share.

Taken at face value, the STAR ad cannot be questioned unless the Nielsen data is questioned – which complainants PDI and Bulletin do not. What the STAR ad says is simply this: That Print advertisers opted to reach most of their consumers through the STAR. That is a fact.

I’ve successfully steered as president and CEO a medium sized ad agency (from 1982 to 1985) and the RPN-Channel 9 Network (from 1989 to 1992) to its best performance levels. My knowledge of the media industry matches my mastery of the art and science of Chair Wrecking.

I also played a key role in the forming of the PDI and the STAR. I opened the door for the partnership between Betty Go-Belmonte and PDI founder Eggy Apostol in 1985. It was in Inquirer online where I wrote a column from 2001 to 2006 before returning to the STAR last year. I have a soft spot in my fat besieged heart for both publications.

Total reach versus effective reach

With the advent of computers and more reliable data to guide media buying, advertisers have long junked the practice of merely being guided by absolute ratings (in Television) and circulation (for Print). Ad shares are now allocated on the basis of effective target market reached or what are called TARPS (total audience rating points) in Television media buying.

To advertisers, what counts is how many of their target consumers a TV network or a newspaper effectively reaches. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the overall primetime top rating TV network (IBC-Channel 13) was only third in ad shares to GMA-Channel 7 (GMA was only third in overall primetime ratings).

Tabloids for that matter out circulate English language newspapers but are hardly attracting the top advertisers.

STAR supremacy

You need not even look into the industry top ad shares data to appreciate where the STAR is getting its supremacy. Just look at the sections of the STAR and compare its contents, personalities and columnists and advertisers. Look at circulation builders like the sports, entertainment, women, life and leisure, people, youth and business sections. You’ll find the STAR setting the pace in all of these sections.

You’ll also find that STAR reaches the two biggest markets that most advertisers target – women and youth. The STAR sports, entertainment, life and leisure, people, youth, women sections efficiently deliver these primary target markets to the advertisers.

It also follows that if rival publications (I did not say which publication) are generating its numbers from running controversial front pages or cornering classified ads – such foundations for circulation cannot compete with the strength of the STAR sections.

These sections are the parts that make up the whole. In Television, it is the top rating programs that account for total and effective reach. In Print, the sections are what determine who rules the ad shares roost or dwell at the bottom.

These sections deliver the markets that attract the advertisers and STAR has been providing the advertisers the best combination of these markets – not just a one-dimensional number of people like the tabloids.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo