Adland in Poland is but 15 years old, yet the industry as we know it probably won't reach adulthood. Like much of the world, we too in Poland are seeing the beginnings of a time when classic TV and press ads will take a back seat to a new non-traditional communications mix.
Look at the trends: internet use now stands at 35 per cent (up 7 per cent from the previous year) and is steadily growing, despite the fact that use tariffs are probably the highest in Europe.
Mobile phone penetration has reached 85 per cent, and Poland is now considered an SMS giant within the European Union (according to recent research, the average Pole sends seven text messages a day; the Brits four and Hungarians just two), while one in four people in Poland use GSM multimedia services - more than in the US or Germany.
But for all this much-hyped evolution of the media landscape, the fact remains that in Poland, a massive 52 per cent of all advertising media money is currently being spent on TV (compared with just under 30 per cent in the UK this year).
Demand for TV advertising continues to exceed supply by around 15 to 20 per cent (TVN, the country's third-largest broadcaster, was overbooked by 40 per cent in June 2006). To cut a long story short, in Poland, the 30-second TV spot is still king.
Why? Because it's relatively cheap. It remains the most cost-effective way to target the population at large, with cost-per-purchase here being three to four times lower than in the UK, France or Germany. (Press advertising, by contrast, continues to show slow growth owing to low readership levels and sluggish sales levels for many magazines.)
One side-effect of the continuing supremacy of TV in the advertising market here is how attractive TV stations in the region now look to potential investors hoping to make big bucks. News Corporation, for example, invested in a TV station in Poland earlier this year, going on to add Serbian, Georgian and Turkish TV stations/licences to its portfolio soon after. Their view? There's money to be made, as multinationals such as Procter & Gamble, Renault and Microsoft choose to put their ad dollars where the majority of Eastern Europe's new consumers can be found.
Poland's ad industry is in an enviable place as a whole - as Zenith data will tell you, adspend globally is growing only in Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, right now. Forecasts for Poland in the coming years are very optimistic; annual growth for 2006 is predicted to reach 10 per cent, with CR Media Consulting estimating that in 2007 and 2008, the industry will expand by 9.1 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively, high above the forecasted GDP growth rate.
Hopefully, all that might change is how the media spend shifts from category to category.
- Jarek Ziebinski is the chairman and chief executive at Leo Burnett Central and Eastern Europe.