OPINION: Sound basis needed for IPA’s minutage decision

For a long time now, the issue of increased commercial minutage on TV has been the advertiser’s hobbyhorse. It’s been dismissed as a topic that can earn marketing directors brownie points with their bosses in the face of increased pressure on budgets. And, of course, advertisers don’t really understand the true dynamics of the TV market, do they? They just hand over the money - it’s the buyers and the sellers who operate the market.

For a long time now, the issue of increased commercial minutage on

TV has been the advertiser’s hobbyhorse. It’s been dismissed as a topic

that can earn marketing directors brownie points with their bosses in

the face of increased pressure on budgets. And, of course, advertisers

don’t really understand the true dynamics of the TV market, do they?

They just hand over the money - it’s the buyers and the sellers who

operate the market.



And the media buyers have, at best, been lukewarm about the minutage

idea, which has made it easier for some of the big players in ITV to

dismiss the issue.



However, agencies are now poised to back the stance taken by the

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers. ISBA is about to make its

submission to the ITC, calling for the existing ceiling of seven minutes

per hour of advertising airtime to be increased to nine minutes.



The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s decision seems a

sensible move. The cost of TV advertising has soared, with inflation

against some demographics running at more than 30 per cent. It’s

something the media community should be battling against and, when

clients believe in extra minutage, shouldn’t agencies back their

paymasters? Well, no. Not if extra minutage means shorter programmes,

viewers zapping through ad breaks and less time for the programme

promotions.



Is the IPA’s new-found enthusiasm for more minutage based on sound

thinking and careful research or on a desire to flatter clients? After

all, it’s hard to disagree with an advertiser such as Procter and Gamble

when it’s one of your most important clients.



Media inflation is a real issue and perhaps extra minutage is one way of

tackling it. But more minutage threatening audience levels certainly

isn’t in anyone’s interests. The IPA’s endorsement will be crucial for

ISBA when it goes to the ITC and we can only hope that the IPA lends its

support for the right reasons.