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Guest Column - Controlling Advertising Wastage: Story of Null Spots

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Guest Column - Controlling Advertising Wastage: Story of Null Spots

In a recent presentation with a large media spender, one of our slides took everyone by storm. A couple of weeks later, another client requested us to run a similar analysis on the same topic. We are talking “Null Spots” here.

Null Spots are TV ads that no one sees (zero rating), and are common across all genres. In this article we will explore, what you should keep in mind while designing your media plan to avoid spots that you pay for but no one watches.

Typically, null spots are low in genres where viewership is high; high viewership for Hindi GECs means low null spots as compared to low viewership to say, English GECs where null spots could be high.

Also, this is because the sample representation of BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council, the agency that monitors and releases TV viewership numbers) is low for niche languages and genres. The fact that low sample is an issue is evident from the fact that null spots have reduced in the range of 16% to 25 % across niche genres after BARC increased its sample in 2017. (Refer Table A)

Within the same language too, Movie genres have lower incidence compared to Music. But this statistic may swing depending on democratic indicators such as age, geography and socio economic strata you are targeting. For example, percentage of null spots is higher among the young people. Chart B shows how the null spots fall with increasing age thus reinforcing our belief that young viewers are probably more fidgety with low attention span compared to their older counterparts.

Urbanisation and economic strata also show an interesting trend. For example, the more economically well-off you are, the lower is the incidence of null spots. SEC AB shows 22% null spots as opposed to CDE which shows 27% (Table C). Similarly, the more urbanised your place of stay, the lower is the incidence of null spots, lowest for larger cities and highest for rural India.

One of the KPIs with the media agency should be to monitor null spots and keep it below acceptable benchmarks. Contrary to popular belief, some of the biggest advertisers in the country have high null spots in their campaign. More often than not, this is because the agencies have negotiated so hard on rates that media house does not have an option but to play the spots during seams (low viewership bands) compared to core prime-time.

Pay fairly, plan better, monitor well and get your advertising budget to go that extra few miles all the time!

Vineet Sodhani is the CEO of Spatial Access and has previously co-authored Guide to Indian Markets

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