Ritu Midha: Of FCT, CPT and data frequency….

25 Jul,2013

By Ritu Midha


July is an important month in television advertising. The first TV ad – aired on the WNBT channel in the US in 1941 – was for Bulova, a watchmaker.  The 10-second spot, showing the picture of a clock with a US Map, had a voiceover ‘America runs on Bulova time’.


That was 73 years back, and the face of television and advertising on it has  seen a complete makeover since. It would be interesting to take note of the changes… some other time though. At the moment, any thought on television advertising immediately brings to mind FCT and measurement, issues the industry is grappling with.


FCT first: ad time per hour to be precise! While in the US, it is (or was till 2011 – as per the information I could dig out on the web) 15 to 18 minutes per hour, in Europe it is 12 minutes. Australia too averages out to 12 minutes per hour – but interestingly, there it is not about ad minutes per hour, but ad minutes per 24 hours – these can be split as per the requirements.


In India, the decision is to bring the FCT down to 12 minutes and it is already work in progress with gradual reduction of ad minutes per hour. It, obviously, is a cause of concern for broadcasters. It is anticipated that some of the revenues channels would be made up by the subscription fee. However, for that DAS has to be on schedule, and roll out be completed by December 2014. One does tend to tilt towards broadcasters here – and wish that any decision pertaining to FCT is implemented only after the complete post DAS roll out.


And then too, why not try out the Australia model, with an upper cap on ad minutes in the prime time? And perhaps, gradually settle at something that works for India, and not necessarily what Britain does!


As for marketers, they must look at in-programme placements more aggressively – to reach not only a more involved audience, but also not to feel the pinch of changed demand-supply equation commercially, and otherwise.


The second issue bogging television advertising at the moment is measurement – data frequency on one side (weekly/ monthly/ rolling weekly/ fortnightly) and CPRP vs CPT on the other. Battlelines are drawn with buyers and sellers on either side of fence!


An argument here is that daily ratings are the way forward, and we should not regress to monthly ones. Just curious, are media plans and buys based on a week’s ratings? Or for that matter, predictions?  The discussion, however, is said to be headed towards a compromise formula – fortnightly, and rolling weekly being the two models flaunted as the best options by many.


By the way, if marketers are so keen to continue with weekly ratings for perfect planning and buying, why are they hesitant to adopt the CPT model? Wouldn’t cost per thousand help in getting the exact numbers?And is it not what the world is headed towards?


A totally disjointed thought here, would the reader experience not be enhanced in print too if the number of ad column centimetres in a publication is pre-defined by a Government body – and the publications are disallowed from putting more than a fixed number of ads on every page – including their ‘prime’ pages?


And, at the moment, is print hoping some spillover from television if its current troubles continue for an extended period of time – many an advertiser would have after all put aside a chunk of their budgets for festive season and elections precursors.


Ritu Midha is a senior journalist and web strategist based in Mumbai. She is also Consulting Editor and Editor – Special Projects, MxMIndia.


This column by Ritu Midha was written before the consensus formula between the ISA, IBF and AAAI with TAM was worked out


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