Malaysians haven’t changed since 2003

Omnicom Media Group (OMG) announced yesterday that newspaper advertising in Malaysia is as effective as it was six years ago. The report also states that readers ‘take note’ of 57% of newspaper ads and that this figure has not changed, I repeat, has not changed since 2003.

The sample size was 1,023 readers aged between 15 – 34 in four locations. They were tested on their recall of 15 ads in different sizes and in different places in newspapers they had read. The number of ads tested was 2,452 that appeared in 15 ‘main’ newspapers.

The agency developed what they describe as ‘three indicators of effectiveness’

1) Ad Noting or ad recall
2) Ad read or readers attention
3) Brand recall

The reports states that bigger ads perform better with a full page ad yielding 21% higher ad noting than a quarter page. Furthermore 60% of colour ads are noticed compared to 53% of B/W ads.

I got my information from this article and not from the original report which I would love to see.

So I can only go on the above data, plus some other results that don’t deserve to be published.

So what is my beef with this report? Well, in no particular order, the first issue I have is with the methodology. The report doesn’t tell us if the responses were aided or unaided. Critical. My second beef is with the ‘indicators of effectiveness’. There was a time, many years ago when newspaper advertising, with its one-size-fits-all mass marketing approach was effective. But not today. Awareness, or noting, or recall is simply not enough to turn a prospect into a tryer. And even if readers are bucking the global trend and not blanking out these and other messages but are indeed noting these ads, so what!?

Another beef is with the number of ads and the channels. 2,452 ads that appeared in 15 newspapers. That’s a lot of ads in a lot of newspapers. Most of us would find it hard to think of 15 mainstream newspapers in Malaysia. I’d also like to know which ads they were shown. For instance, were 15 year olds shown Louis Vuitton ads? They might recall it but what are the chances of them buying the product?

When we have a first meeting with a prospect, one of the first questions we ask is, “Have you read the paper today and if so, which ads do you recall?” Very, very rarely does someone actually recall an ad. And many of them were reading the paper as we walked into the meeting!

The time spent by Malaysians online went up 24% from 3 hours a day in 2006 to 3 hours and 46 minutes a day in 2008. With broadband penetration forecast to be 50% in 2010, that figure is going to rise significantly. Already, 80% of affluent Malaysians (those with a household income above RM5,000) use social networking sites. The time Malaysians spend interfacing with traditional media will suffer. But perhaps the most telling statistic of all is one that appeared recently in the Star, “78% of people trust the recommendations of other consumers, while only 14% trust advertising.”

So even if consumers are noting or recalling or whatever the latest term is, it doesn’t really matter because 86% of them don’t believe what they read in the advertisements so they’ll never buy the product!


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