The Cascade of Data

Published on Saturday, 22 November 2014 by Tumi Mokgadinyane in Digital

It's important to take a step back and understand that data is data. Whether you're using AMPS's 'any research' function to filter out insights, looking at consumer behavioural and attitudinal views, or using it to simply put a media strategy together to justify media selection, it's important for clients and agencies to understand that data can be overlaid and extrapolated to colour any strategic intent. Simply put, you can make data show what you want it to show. It's not what you look at that matters but how it's translated.

Let's have a look at the latest AMPS (All Media and Product Survey) release.

The latest survey shows that the population increased by 1.2% from 37 214 000 to 37 655 000 of adults represented from a sample size of 25 510 aged 15+. The population has also been updated to 2014 IHS Global Insight population estimates and the 1.2% increase is evenly split across the nation, with a slight skew of blacks aged 35+ and older living in Gauteng.

If we take a look at the Living Standards Measure (LSM), the latest survey release shows some regression within the LSM groupings. This has been relative to the South African economic growth which has decreased by an annualised rate of 0.6% for the first quarter of 2014. The main contributor to this decrease in economic activity comes from the mining and quarrying industries as well as the manufacturing industry.

According to the latest AMPS survey, the average household income aggregated by the survey has increased to R9 997.00 per month. However when comparing the % increase to inflation we can see that it’s lagging behind and is not indicative of real growth.

It's not all doom and gloom though as we're seeing positive trends reflected in basic education with 99% of the adult population having basic literacy, and a little above 93% having functional literacy, a 0.9% increase from the previous released survey.

Key events during the field work period that may have impacted the resultant outcome of the survey, particularly on how media was consumed and the behavioural patterns around those events included:


  • Strikes: Platinum mineworkers and Petrol attendants
  • The Oscar Pistorius trial
  • Jacob Zuma's controversial Nkandla homestead upgrade
  • Nairobi mall massacre
  • The nation mourned the death of Nelson Mandela
  • General Elections 2014
  • Boko Haram kidnapping in Nigeria


  • The 2014 World Cup

Some of the media highlights from the latest survey have been highlighted below, sector by sector:


For newspapers it has been a downhill trend with overall Average Issue Readership (AIR) decreasing by 1.5% from the previous survey, driven by the metropolitan areas and respondents aged 15-24. When we look closely at the Daily Newspapers category, the decrease is mainly driven by Daily Sun’s readership declines. Weeklies are also down by 1.4% with AIR sitting at 11 393 000 in actual readership numbers.


With magazines, AIR decline is not as harsh - there has been a decrease of 0.7% when comparing the previous survey with the latest release. True Love, Move, Fairlady, Cosmo and Glamour have all seen decreases in AIR over the latest survey period. In the Men's General Interest category, magazines have remained relatively stable. The DSTV magazine has had an increase of 1.5% with an AIR of 16.6% which equates to 6 244 000 people in actual numbers.


TV is arguably the most tumultuous medium of the bunch, whether we're looking at it from a consumer viewership, programming or data retrieval point of view. The increase in total TV data includes both terrestrial and satellite viewing. The noticeable highlights come in the form of past seven day (P7D) viewership figures on DSTV increasing, driven by blacks with the high adoption of the cheaper DSTV Compact offering.

From the previous AMPS survey, DSTV increased its subscriber base by 400 000, which has equated to almost one million additional eyeballs. It will be interesting to see the impact of ‘content on demand’ services in the coming months or even years with the likes of Altech Node and the more popular Apple TV offering comprehensive alternatives to the standard DSTV. Perhaps the shifts will be against the higher LSM’s who are able to afford the innovation and convenience.

The community channels P7D viewership declined slightly by 0.1% but it's interesting to note that the regional stations such as Bay TV, 1KZNTV and Tswane TV all increased their P7D viewership largely due to audiences outside these regions and the channels being available on DSTV.


Radio listening has remained relatively stable across 'Total Radio Listening', 'Total Commercial Listening' and 'Total Community Listening' categories. Access to radio listening is still dominant through the actual radio device at 92.4%. Listening to the medium through cell phones has also shown an upward trend and is increasing with every survey, evident over the last three AMPS releases. Listening online and through the DSTV audio channels has decreased.


Cinema results from the latest AMPS 2014A survey show an overall decline, even among the flagship LSM 9-10 audience. The LSM 9-10 audience has taken a liking to DSTV’s Box Office offering with 6.3% or 524 000 of the audience having rented a movie through the service.

With technology consistently improving, on-couch home entertainment has become comprehensive and much more convenient. So cinema as a medium will be endlessly under pressure to innovate and up the 'experience credentials' for their consumers.

Cell phone and Digital

Internet access trends across platforms continues to grow, with as much as a 3.8% increase from the last survey when comparing 'yesterday usage'. We believe this category will only continue to grow with internet penetration still some distance away from reaching saturation point in our developing country. Access to internet via cell phone has increased, driven by the LSM 1-4 category, further reiterating the previous comment. Amongst the most popular internet activities 'search', 'instant messaging', 'social networking' and 'email' took top spots, increasing penetration and growth from the previous survey.

Smart phone usage is the highest within LSM 8-10, but we see growth throughout all other LSM's. Total smart phone usage is now sitting at 41.3% against entire population, with a 5.6% increase from the Dec13 AMPS release.

A snapshot of service provider penetration sees Vodacom having the largest share at 39.8%, with MTN reflecting 37.6% and Cell C with 9.9%. Cell C has however seen growth from the previous survey and according to Nielsen AdDynamix, it spent the second highest on advertising after Vodacom in the Telecom category. Should we attribute market share ratings to advertising spend? Growth sure suggests that.


Noticeable highlights include:

  • Access to financial accounts has seen an increase via supermarket outlets and cell phones, but the majority of people still prefer going into their banks or using an ATM.
  • 17% of our population own a used vehicle, and of those only 5.6% use a vehicle recovery system.
  • Home telephone access has decreased from the previous survey, also highlighting how cell phones have become the preferred means of communication.
  • Access to computers at home has increased slightly and tablets are following suit with an increase from 3.7% to 5%.

There is an abundance of data available for marketers and media agency people alike. With this amount of data there are never any wrong answers as it always depends on how one interprets it. The good analysists/planners/strategists are the ones that take this wildfire of information, clear the smoky air and drill down to the relevant insights or nuggets of truth within a given target market.

Last modified onThursday, 15 June 2017 15:31