Election Ad Spending: Reporting Partial Nielsen Figures
JEERS TO several media organizations for reporting incomplete and unverified figures on advertising expenses in 2015 of the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates running in this year’s elections.
From January 5 to 8, reports in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, ABS-CBNnews.com, GMA News Online, ANC’s Dateline Philippines, and ABS-CBN 2’s TV Patrol said that among the presidential candidates, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Jejomar Binay was the top spender for television ads from January to November 2015. These media organizations said Binay spent PHP 595.7 million on political advertisements over TV alone.
Binay was followed by Senator Grace Poe with PHP 448.1 million, while Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II came in third with PHP 424.8 million. PDP-Laban’s presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte was the fourth top spender with PHP 115.4 million.
The reports named Nielsen Philippines, a media research firm, as the source of the figures. But Nielsen said they have not released any findings as they had yet to complete the study. Publishing the supposed ad spending in 2015 of the candidates for this year’s elections without Nielsen’s explanations resulted in contradictory and inconsistent reports. Indeed, it almost sounded as if the media outlets cherry-picked the Nielsen data, publishing these with slants that suggested their bias for a particular candidate.
For instance, these reports did not cite any other advertising amounts spent on other media platforms. As a result, the coverage by the two papers and the two networks sounded as if Binay was the runaway top spender of them all. But the coverage by competing media outlets suggested otherwise.
On January 6, The Manila Times, The Standard and The Daily Tribune reported that Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II was actually the biggest spender in political advertising, having spent the total amount of PHP 774 million for TV , radio and print ads in 2015. In their reports, Binay only came in second, with PHP 695 million in political ad expenses. The three newspapers, which are known anti-administration outlets, said that these totals for candidates’ media expenses in 2015 were from another Nielsen research which covered the January to December 2015 period.
TV5’s Aksyon Tonite reported that Binay spent the most, PHP695 million, on TV and radio ads, while Roxas spent PHP 675 million. The report did not specify the period for the expenses.
None of the reports provided links to the Nielsen studies cited. In a news release on January 8, which was also picked up by The Manila Times, InterAksyon.com and GMA News Online, Nielsen said the final and official data on ad expenses “will be included in the Election Report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which is scheduled for release in late January. The PCIJ-Nielsen Election Report is in coordination with the Comelec. The official and full report will include advertising spend on TV, print and radio from January to December 2015. As of today, data on print and radio are still being processed and verified by Nielsen, and no official release of data has been undertaken to date.”
The same news release quoted Tin Amper, Nielsen executive director for Media Client Service: “We are aware that information and data is already circulating in the industry. However, this information is incomplete and has been released without any consent from Nielsen.”
The Nielsen Advertising Information Service covers TV, radio, print and billboard advertising, including ad placements. Estimated costs are based on rate cards provided by respective media outlets.