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Three ways that load shedding has affected South African advertising

Marketing 459

Load shedding continues to have implications on everyone,particularlyfor television advertisers and broadcasters alike.

Advertising budgets have already been reduced, but now with the power out, here are three things that we can expect to happen in the industry: 

1. Viewership will decrease

Television indisputably remains the largest media consumption channel in South Africa. It isstillthe most effective way of reaching a higher number of audiences at a high frequency. However, it is no secret that such media platforms are significantly affected by load shedding.

Viewership is a client’s first concern when there is a blackout. It means that millions of South African TV households are off, reducing the potential TV audience of a particular channel or programme.  

Having these power cuts means that advertisers are not reaching a household for at least two or more hours during each blackout. This is of serious concern, especially when power is cut during prime time, which decreases viewership even more significantly.

It results in adverts only being seen by a handful of people who might not even be the target audience for the brand being advertised. In essence, the outcome is then seen as a loss.

Britta Reid commented on a research article in 2019 from The Broadcast Research Council on how adult ARs for the 18:00 and 20:00 dayparts were affected. She says that about 2% of adults on the BRC TAMS panel were flagged as “having experienced power cuts during stage two, compared with 15% of adults during stage four”.

2. There will be a concern of over-reach

Clients have become sceptical about whether their brand will be seen by therightaudiences as load shedding makes it difficult to plan schedules. Clients will (if they haven’t already) start questioning the value that they are getting from advertising if they lose audiences during load shedding.

Brands are aware that performance will be affected; however, there is nothing that marketers and broadcasters can do at this point as it is beyond their control.

3. Digital is affected

Additionally, cell phone network coverage has also been getting disrupted and it seems that this will continue to be the case during our electricity crisis. This is making marketers’ jobs even more difficult, as we can no longer communicate to customers or target markets at any point in time.

We all love our smartphones, but their battery life is not as great as we’d like it to be. Power banks and portal chargers can help sustain battery life, but with port connectivity, it seems like it would be a struggle to get advertising messages across to specific audiences.

Customers are more inclined to save their battery to ensure, for instance, that their alarm wakes them up in the morning, rather than scrolling on their phones and depleting their battery.

What we can do

The Eskom issue was unavoidable. This means that we’ve got a long way to go and for brands, we need to think of alternative ways to reach our audiences.

It seems like the old school ‘wireless’ radios would be of good use at this point, so that people can still consume news during load shedding. This will cause an increase in listenership on the radio.

It’s also time to put more faith into apps such as EskomSePush to plan around most areas that are experiencing load shedding. This will help to ensure that audiences are not lost.

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