Television Ad Clutter in the Philippines

Last Thursday night I had a chance to watch Ms. Cheche Lazaro‘s “Media in Focus” show on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). It is an intellectual talk show on everything and anything about media in the Philippines.

The episode was interesting. It was about the imposition of the 18 minute per hour ad load for all the members of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (Association of Philippine Broadcasters) or the KBP.

The show had an interesting panel of guests and resource persons.

The first guest was Ms. Maloli Espinsa, who is the current President of the KBP. She talked about the stricter implementation of the load limit.

She said that the 18 minute rule is one of the higest in the region. [I did some research on Wikipedia and found out that 18 minutes was also the standard in US television.]

Asked about why 18 minutes, Ms. Espinosa said it was the optimal amount that will be quitable to the broadcaster, the advertisers and the viewers (in terms of clutter).

The penalty for members who are found guilty of violating the rule is 120% of the ad revenue in excess of 18 minutes.

Two years ago, the rule as relaxed because KBP members were at a commercial dissadvantage to those who are non-members of the KBP, namely GMA Network, Inc. (GMA-7).

Apprently, GMA-7 withdrew from the KBP last August 2003. Some people say that GMA quit the KBP because it was found guilty of violation to the ad load limit and was supposed to be heavily fined. [I now understand why the channel is full of ads and ever extends the time slots of its shows.] [Read news about GMA leaving the KBP here.]

By the way, Che-che Lazaro said that her show tried to invite a representative from GMA Network but they declined the invitation.

You might think, that there’s nothing wrong with a network having too many ads. You may say that it just means that a tv network is more popuar among viewers.

However, more ads is not good after all. Vivian Tin, ABS-CBN’s vice-president for research and business development said that too much clutter in TV ads is not good for the viewers and the advertisers. She mentioned a study of the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) that found out that an additional two minutes of ad load leads to an eleven percent drop in ad recall.

Jones Campos, an official of PANA, seconds that in their lab study on ad clutter, proves that clutter will not make ads effective.

In my opinion, the ad load limit must be supported and strictly enforced. It is unfortunate and irresponsible that GMA-7 left the KBP just to get away with exploiting every second of advertising revenue. If GMA-7 would not want to join a self regulatory organization like the KBP the government should step in through the National Telecommunications Commission to enforce the rule among all broadcasters.

In this age of multi-tasking and multi-media, people do not just stick to one channel and loyally watch a program from start to finish.  Today, the number of ad clutter means the more we can use our cellphones, switch to another channel, check e-mails, surf the internet or go to the toilet.

Wouldn’t it be better if our TV ads are lower than 18 minutes, say from six minutes below?

Advertisers should realize that what is more important is not the number of times their ad appears on TV but rather how better their brands or messages stick to the minds of the consumers.

What is more important here than making media organizations profitable is protecting the viewers of too much advertising clutter.

Related: ABS-CBN supports cap on ad load

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