Transformation of advertising & marketing industry: South African Advertising Research Foundation

13 November 2002

1. Introduction
2. Race As A Demographic In Media Audience Research
2.1 SAARF Hearings Into Allegations Of Racism In Its Research Products
2.2 Industry Debates
2.3 Government Needs
2.4 Development Of Additional Tools
3. SAARF Transformation Charter
4. SAARF Development Index
5. SAARF Universal LSM
7. The Way Forward

Appendices are in PDF format; you need Acrobat Reader to access these files:

Appendix 1: Invitation from the South African Advertising Research Foundation [PDF] 7 kb
Appendix 2: Report to the Communications Industry on the SAARF Hearings into Allegations of Racism in its Research Products [PDF] 39 kb
Appendix 3: Removal of Race from AMPS/RAMS/TAMS [PDF] 9 kb
Appendix 4: SAARF Board Decision on the Race Demographic [PDF] 7 kb
Appendix 5: SAARF Transformation Charter [PDF] 11 kb
Appendix 6: Recommendations of the Segmentation Task Group [PDF] 11 kb
Appendix 7: SAARF Development Index [PDF] 12 kb
Appendix 8: An Invitation to Tender [PDF] 12 kb
Appendix 9: What is 'SAARF' and What does it do? [PDF] 22 kb

1. Introduction

The South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) is a non-profit body that does media audience and products research on behalf of the communications industry. It is well known for its research surveys SAARF AMPS, SAARF RAMS and SAARF TAMS as well as its other products namely the SAARF Development Index and the SAARF Universal Living Standards Measure (see Appendix 9 [PDF] 22 kb).

During the parliamentary hearings at the end of 2001 the accusation was made that the research conducted by the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) was racist. The SAARF Board of Directors took this accusation very seriously and at its board meeting at the end of November 2002 it decided to investigate these accusations and give everyone the opportunity to make submissions on SAARF's research and anything that they felt should be changed or corrected. For this purpose the Board decide that open hearings would be conducted in the new year and that an open invitation would be extended to the public as well as all stakeholders to make their submissions in person or in writing to a panel of experts lead by Tim Modise as chair (see Appendix 1 [PDF] 7 kb).

In addition the Board of Directors of SAARF took an extremely important decision namely to remove all reference to race in its research and stated that anyone that felt that race should be included as part of the research will have to motivate its inclusion (see Appendix 3 [PDF] 9 kb).

2. Race As A Demographic In Media Audience Research

Up to now the inclusion of race in research has always been explained by saying that it is just another demographic and that people do not have to use it at all. It was argued that race is a fact of life in and that it is not the researcher's duty to censor information, and that AMPS reflects the South African society, and therefore race should be available just like any other demographic.

However, the SAARF Board argued that it has become clear that the mere fact that race is made available as a demographic in AMPS might lead to discriminatory practices in the utilization of AMPS data. As race is not essential for media planning or target marketing, its presence in AMPS is therefore not only unnecessary, but indeed harmful to AMPS and the industry it serves.

The SAARF Board of Directors stated that it believed that the time has come for this bold step and that it hoped that the industry would take this opportunity to think anew about current practices used in target marketing and media selection. In addition, stakeholders were invited to, with the help of SAARF, develop further innovative tools which could be used for these purposes.

As could be expected this decision created a lively and intense debate in the industry which lead to a much deeper understanding of the problem by all stakeholders and as such the process has been extremely beneficial to everyone involved.

2.1 SAARF Hearings Into Allegations Of Racism In Its Research Products

At the Parliamentary hearings into racism in the advertising industry held during November last year, allegations were made of racism in the research published by the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF). Consequently, SAARF decided to hold a day of public hearings into these allegations. Stakeholders in the communications industry as well as interested members of the public were invited to make submissions on possible concerns in this regard and to suggest action steps, if these are deemed necessary. The public hearings were chaired by independent moderator, Tim Modise, assisted by a panel of distinguished experts with specialist knowledge and experience in advertising, marketing, communications and research.

The report to the Communications Industry On The SAARF Hearings Into Allegations Of Racism In Its Research Products can be found in Appendix 2 [PDF] 39 kb.

2.2 Industry Debates

During the past year the industry debated the issue of research and whether it is racist to include race as a demographic in the research over the length and breadth of the country. Standpoints for and against were raised by users of the data as well as representatives from government and cognizance of this was taken by the SAARF board of directors in their final deliberations over this issue.

2.3 Government Needs

Government's needs was expressed by a senior official of the Government Communication and information System (GCIS), who said that she has evidence of the development of alarming trends of placement into white rather than black media. While she stressed that this needed to be remedied, she nonetheless questioned the removal of race as a demographic while there are not adequate language descriptors to fall back on. "Without the race demographic, and with insufficient language codes, we risk making the problem of targeting only white media even worse," she said. "This will have huge economic implications, not just for the media, but for the country as a whole, as we will not be talking to a large segment of society." She requested that the industry should also look at improving the language descriptors.

2.4 Development Of Additional Tools

SAARF announced at the hearings that it would hold a segmentation workshop to investigate possible new segmentation tools for AMPS, RAMS and TAMS. In addition to the use of general segmentation tools such as LSMs, the inclusion of brands on AMPS will also introduce a powerful additional tool for users, as it will enable marketers to profile the actual users of brands. This bottom up approach, which is preferable to the top down approach, will be facilitated by the release of SAARF's branded data product, scheduled for introduction in 2002.

SAARF has also in the meantime decided on the inclusion of more lifestyle related questions on AMPS and this will hopefully lead to an additional segmentation tool based on behaviour in the near future. In addition, SAARF has decided to change the language question to bring it in-line with the language question as asked in the Population Census of Statistics South Africa.

Finally, SAARF is busy with the development of a Media Group Measure (MGM) Index, which will enable users of the data to do segmentation based on people's media exposure. It is planned to have this new segmentation tool available before end 2002.

3. SAARF Transformation Charter

(Appendix 5 [PDF] 11 kb)

At a SAARF Board meeting held on 7 March 2001 the composition of the SAARF Board was debated to see whether, in the light of all the changes that have taken place over the past few years, the current size and structure of the Board were still adequate for the effective representation of all constituencies and to ensure that the transformation of the SAARF Board be accelerated.

Two of the most important strong points of SAARF that have greatly contributed to its success over the past 27 years, have been:

  1. Inclusivity, in that through the years SAARF has always adapted to change and welcomed and accommodated new players in its structures, and
  2. The fact that top people from all sectors of the industry have been committed to SAARF, thus making their intellectual capital available, not only to SAARF, but also in the broader interests of joint industry research.

It was accepted, however that, because of the changes of the past decade or so, factors such as the evolving South African landscape, fragmentation of the media, deregulation, globalisation etc., have brought us to a point where we needed to make it possible for even wider representation at all levels in SAARF.

The Board felt that in order to meet all the needs as expressed above, with the smallest amount of disruption to the functioning of the Board, the following changes be implemented as quickly as possible:

  1. That the number of Board members of each constituency be doubled to give all constituencies the capacity to accommodate the different sectors within their constituencies more effectively, as well as to ensure that the transformation of the SAARF Board be accelerated.
  2. As the change in the size of the Board did not have an effect on the proportional representation on the board, the balance among the different constituencies remained unchanged.

The above measure was regarded as an interim measure. Once our transformational objectives have been met, the size and composition of the board will be re-evaluated.

The above proposal gave all member organisations the freedom to elect sufficient members to the SAARF Board to represent their diverse needs adequately, and at the same time, rapidly moving the transformation process forward.

SAARF and all its stakeholders formally reaffirmed their commitment to a process that was started over a year ago to effect the necessary changes to the composition of the SAARF Board of Directors and all SAARF Councils to ensure fair representation of the heterogeneity of our society at all levels within the organisation. SAARF's goal is to have all corporate governance bodies fully representative by 31 December 2005.

4. SAARF Development Index

(Appendix 7 [PDF] 12 kb)

SAARF does marketing and media audience research on behalf of the marketing, advertising and media industries. The greater part of this research is a major, nationwide, bi-annual survey, known as the All Media and Products Survey (AMPST).

This survey is a grass roots survey and provides data on South Africans, the products they use, and their media usage.

During 2001, using AMPS data, SAARF has extracted a Development Index, which shows extensive development in South African living standards since the 1994 elections. In most respects, the RDP is achieving its objectives, with the only exception being job creation.

Using the data gathered from almost 15 000 respondents in 1994, and almost 30 000 in 2001, SAARF's Development Index shows that when it comes to home ownership, electrification and water reticulation, the government can congratulate itself on a job well done.

5. SAARF Universal Living Standards Measure (SU-LSM)

The SAARF Universal LSM is a unique means of segmenting the South African market. It cuts across race and other outmoded techniques of categorizing people, and instead groups people according to their living standards using criteria such as degree of urbanization and ownership of cars and major appliances. Because it is a multivariate segmentation tool constructed from 29 individual variables, it is a stronger differentiator then any other single demographic. It was introduced during the second half of 2001 and has already shown that it is a definite improvement on the previous model. The SAARF LSM is used to group those people together with similar behaviour in the market place to assist marketers with their target marketing.


(Appendix 8 [PDF] 12 kb)

During 2002 the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) has asked for tenders for 3 of its main survey which provides its stakeholders (media owners, advertisers and advertising agencies) with valid, reliable and credible media audience, products and services consumption data for a large variety of target markets. These research results are used for the buying and selling of a large part of an estimated R9 billion worth in advertising space and time per annum.

Although these surveys are extremely sophisticated and complex, South African based companies have always conducted it. Now for the first time the tender also requires that proposals must indicate the status in their respective organisations of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and of plans in this regard during the execution of the project.

7. Actions Of The Past Year And The Way Forward

7.1 After deliberation the SAARF board decided as follows on the inclusion of race as a demographic: "Race will be retained and published unchanged in printed and electronic format in AMPS, RAMS and TAMS". The Board felt that the process has now run its full course and it is clear to everyone inside and outside the industry that the problem does not lie with the research and that the removal of race as a demographic might in fact lead people to believe that all problems have now been resolved and thus actually inhibit the necessary debate and action that should centre on the attitudes and behaviour of people.

7.2 During 2002 SAARF finalized a transformation charter in which definite transformational objectives are spelled out and it hopes that the transformation process will be completed by end 2005. (See Appendix 5 [PDF] 11 kb)

7.3 The LSM workshops introduced during 2001 will become a regular part of SAARF's training programme.

7.4 All stakeholders, including research providers, have been requested to evaluate the communications value chain to ensure that there are no intentional or unintentional discriminatory practices occurring at any stage.

7.5 All stakeholders are requested to adopt a Marketing Code of Conduct which could be signed by all parties in the value chain. By adopting this charter the communications industry would pledge its commitment to eliminating any residual racial discrimination and racial targeting.

7.6 SAARF will in future work closely with the Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS), and will in future also liaise more closely with other Governmental institutions such as the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), where required.

7.7 It is recommended that all stakeholders in the communications industry conduct regular re-evaluations of the situation until they are satisfied that measures are in place to ensure that all discriminatory practices have been permanently removed and that the industry has been transformed to reflect society.

7.8 A working group was appointed by the SAARF Board to make recommendations on how to take the process of transformation, education and changing of perceptions and attitudes in the Industry forward.

- South African Advertising Research Foundation