The early Ber months are often the most stressful time of the year for most media agencies in the Philippines. No, we’re not talking about preparations for their corporate Christmas parties. (Often, overeager HR staff prepare for this much, much earlier. Yes, that is how we roll back here.)


The stress comes with the annual strategic planning session that usually commences either in September or October. During this planning season, all departments are asked to take to heart a list of key result areas or KRAs that firms want to achieve the following year. Each department is then made to come up with its respective plans and programs that should support these KRAs.

This becomes a science fair for media agencies. It’s an event where everyone is asked to pitch in on how their division can solve certain problems or, even more dauntingly, come up with innovations that can be implemented the following year.


This is particularly nerve-wracking for marketing departments. Year in and year out, the most dreaded question they have to answer looks more or less like this: ”How can you boost sales?” or “How can you double our revenues?”


The answer to these questions used to be easy. During the past years, the default solution has always been ‚increase advertising budget.


Not anymore. Many CEOs are starting to be less convinced that traditional advertising necessarily leads to sales. It’s not just a matter of perception; ads are simply not enough to get the attention of customers, much more get them to buy what you’re selling.


What has brought all these about? In the Philippines, much like anywhere else, our audience has become smarter. We can no longer expect them to see your product on TV or newspapers and gullibly purchase what they see.


Take a look at the consumption-rich Filipino middle class, for instance. Over time, we can no longer ignore the fact that the rules on how to get through to them have radically changed. Consider these:


– According to the 2012 TNS Digital Life survey, 45 percent of Filipino respondents connected to the Internet compared to 36 percent who listened to radio, 12 percent who read newspapers, and 4 percent magazines.


– While 89 percent of Filipinos are still watching TV, another study done by Millward Brown shows that Filipinos tend to spend more time with their mobile devices and laptops. According to its 2014 AdReaction report, Filipinos tend to spend a combined time of more than 7 hours a day on Internet-ready devices:

o 174 minutes on smartphones

o 143 minutes on their computers

o 115 minutes on their tablets

o Only 99 minutes in front of their TV


– A 2011 Nielsen survey said families of OFWs are the fastest climbers to the middle-income segment. From 23% in 2007, the percentage of OFWs belonging to lower middle-income class families surged to 39% in 2011.


– As far as spending habits are concerned, Nielsen said OFW families prioritize purchasing of gadgets that foster communication. As such, they buy mobile phones, computers, and other gadgets that allow Internet connectivity. Not surprisingly, more than half, or 52 percent, of OFW families, have Internet access, second only to the affluent families with 66 percent Internet access. OFW households are also among the highest users of social media like Facebook.


Needless to say, it is almost a mortal sin for marketing executives of media agencies to ignore these realities. If they do so, they might as well resign themselves to the fact that their strategic planning session for 2015 would be a time not just to come up with new ideas, but also an event where they would be made to justify why they did not deliver on their commitments.