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Advertisers are not getting back the desired results of their publicity campaigns

May 08 - 21, 2000

The advertising and publicity through media has failed to achieve the desired results mainly because lack of coordination among the various organizations of common interest did not played their role effectively. Had a proper attention given to this sector in the early days of Pakistan, a strong foundation would have been come on the ground. Due to lack of a well-coordinated and well-knit system the advertisers have no proper assessment regarding the feed back and results achieved through investment on publicity campaigns through media.

According to an assessment, the total expenditures on publicity campaigns in Pakistan are roughly estimated at Rs15 billion per annum. This amount spend on advertising every year is much below than what it is being spent in the smaller countries of this region.

Recently conducted surveys based on limited samples are being treated as controversial. People generally raise an accusing finger at these surveys alleging that these surveys are conducted as an image building campaign for some major newspapers published in the country.

A large number of fresh newspapers have started appearing in the country during the last one decade. Despite mushrooming of these newspapers, there was hardly an addition to the list of newspapers having a readership all over the country. Most of these newspapers are of the local newspapers confined to the city from where they are being published. As a result of appearance of these smaller papers, there was hardly any growth in number of national newspapers on one hand but consequently they also curtailed the circulation strength of the existing major newspapers on the other hand. It has been observed that circulation of the existing newspapers has been slashed considerably due to mushroom growth of smaller papers from almost every major town of the country. However the major publication houses are not mentally prepared to accept this reality rather they are still claiming not only for their previous circulation but also insisting on increased circulation of their newspapers and periodicals.

As a result of this fragmentation in their circulation strength of the newspapers, the advertisers are not getting back the results or feedback of the advertising campaigns launched for the products. The unsatisfactory results are obviously discouraging the new advertisers and the existing advertisers are not encouraged to increase their publicity budget. Another important factor in this regard is that on one hand the circulation of major newspapers reduced considerably while the management of these major newspapers multiplied the tariff rates for advertisement space. Situation demands an immediate plan for improvement in this sector because under these circumstances it is hard to grow for any organization or a sector. Those organizations working for newspapers or the corporate sector which spend money for their publicity campaigns should organize seminars and meetings to open a debate to redress the unproductive situation. The purpose of these seminars or debates should be to evolve a method to get back the results of the investment on the publicity campaign launched by the advertisers. Besides getting a true feedback of the publicity campaign, there is a need for evolving a code of conduct to protect the interest of the readers also. This code of ethics will also decide that how much space of a page of newspaper be allocated for advertisement material and reading stuff so that the interest of the readers remain intact in the paper. Otherwise the excessive of advertisements on a page proves counter productive. The entire page goes unnoticed of the readers because of excessive publicity material. The attention of the reader immediately shifts to other pages if he finds a page of newspaper full of advertisement. This is exactly the similar case when a TV watcher immediately shifts to some other channel if the end commercials start appearing on the screen. The tariff rates of the advertisement should be assessed on the basis of true circulation of a newspaper or the periodicals. In order to get a true picture of the situation and to get maximum results of the funds spent on publicity campaigns, the advertising agencies should come out of the fear. They should conduct a survey to provide a true guideline to the advertisers enabling them to get back a true feed back of their publicity campaigns. The findings of such surveys should also be made public so that the traditions of making tall and false claims about circulation should also come to an end once for all. In a way implementation on the above proposal would not only help in developing a transparent situation of the newspapers but also help promoting the national economy on sound footings. Another important aspect of this survey would be the elimination of false monopolistic conditions in this important sector.

In 1998 about Rs1550 million were invested on publicity campaigns. Out of the total amount invested on publicity, the newspaper had a lion's share worth Rs1275 million, Rs.320 million to the magazines while periodicals of specialized nature grabbed a share of Rs43 million. Currently over 100 advertising agencies are working in Pakistan out of that 68 are members of the Pakistan Advertising Association. 71 advertising agencies are accredited with APNS. The arrival of numerous dish channels has also adversely affected PTV audience causing a major concern for advertisers and publicity campaigners. In order to cope with the situation some remedial measures are needed to promote some good values in media and advertising business. Pakistan Advertisers Society was formed some three years back. It is expected that this society would also come forward to play a positive role in this scenario.