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More clients demand quantifiable return

MEDIA analysts are warning of a tough time ahead for the advertising industry, with many businesses reviewing their marketing budgets as a result of a soft economy and low consumer confidence.

And while advertising revenues across many sectors of the media already have had a tough 12 months, no quick fix appears likely.

Clients increasingly are demanding a quantifiable return on their marketing spend.

But just downstage from traditional advertising sits an alternative that’s rapidly gaining momentum in a number of different forms across all media.

In its most sinister form, advertorial content is advertising presented in the form of editorial, as occurred with the ‘cash for comment’ scandal in radio.

However, there are a number of locally produced ‘info-tainment’ shows that offer clients the opportunity to broadcast details about their product in an extended format, including Home in WA and The Real Estate Program.

Home in WA executive producer Ron Reddingius said that now, more than ever

before, clients want pro-

duction costs to be recoverable.

“What clients invest (in Home in WA) is exceptionally cost efficient and gets to a large number of people with a modest investment,” he said.

For an investment of a couple of thousand dollars, info-tainment programs provide an alternative to traditional tele-vision advertising at a small fraction of the cost.

Mr Reddingius is eager to emphasise the open advertorial nature of the show, saying many other commercial television programs offer the same service to advertising clients without ever highlighting this subtle difference to the viewers.

“My program is up front advertorial … and it’s done in a very professional manner. The flexibility it gives clients is enormous,” Mr Reddingius said.

Home in WA clients include the Ministry of Housing, the Master Builders Association and Alinta Gas.

“Alinta Gas had 12 sections where they talked about safety issues with gas. It’s not about advertorial it’s about info-tainment,” Mr Reddingius said.

As far as the Australian Broadcasting Authority is concerned, these advertorial shows still fall under the definition of traditional programming.

ABA manager of media and public relations, Donald Roberts, said the issue was not a top priority.

“If there was public concern we might take a closer look … I think, based on the fact I field a number of calls from the media about this, and yet public concern is not manifest,” he said.

This is not a view shared by the NSW Department of Fair Trading, which is holding an inquiry into television info-mercials following a large number of consumer com-plaints.

“We have a problem with shows that are presented as normal television programming but they’re not,” NSW Department of Fair Trading spokesperson John Watkins, said. “The difference between editorial and advertorial is being skewed in this way.”

The inquiry will look at the entire range of advertorial content on televisions, from late night extended product commercials to advertising that is presented in the form of an interview within a larger format.

All the television stations are expected to give presentations.

“This is the low rent end of television but this is where people buy their pots and pans and sheets. It’s bread and butter stuff and we’re a bread and butter department,” Mr Watkins said.

“Television advertising has a very high credibility with people and we want to see some changes.”

The WA Department of Fair Trading has not received anything like the number of complaints as in NSW, but public affairs manager Neil Stanbury said the department did not separate retail and other complaints, so there may be a number originating from television commercials.

“We’ll monitor what NSW is doing and keep an eye on the issue,” Mr Stanbury said.

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