NEWS13 July 2009

Saarf boss defends brand research over budget claims

Financials Middle East and Africa

SOUTH AFRICA— The South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf) has defended its brand research against suggestions that it should drop the study because the industry can no longer afford it.

In an article on MarketingWeb last week, marketing commentators John Farquhar and Sandra Gordon said Saarf’s decision to “extend its mandate” to provide data on specific brands as well as product categories had had an “onerous impact” on its budget.

“The best solution is for Saarf to abandon its brand research – research that adds little to the media audience value scenario,” they wrote.

But Saarf CEO Paul Haupt told Research the brand data accounts for less than 1% of Saarf’s budget and that there was “no immediate problem” with funding. “I find it strange that it is now regarded as an issue, eight years after introduction and at a time when virtually the whole industry now recognises the value that was added to the survey by this change,” he said.

Haupt said Saarf’s All Media and Products Survey has the advantage over commercially available research studies of providing data for the whole country, rather than just selected urban areas, and of linking product and brand usage data to media consumption.

The study is “one of the reasons why South Africa is the envy of many visitors to our shores who cannot believe that we have this wonderful national single-source survey that is better than most surveys found in other countries,” he added.

He also dismissed reports of funding disagreements between Saarf and the South African Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – which share the revenue raised by a 1% levy on advertising. “In my time at Saarf there has never been a battle between the organisations,” said Haupt.

In the long term, he said, the funding model for Saarf and the ASA will have to be reviewed because of increasing media fragmentation and other changes in the market.