media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to the Marketing Association of SA’s CEO, Greg Garden, about the similarities and differences between MAPS and AMPS, and why it was necessary for an updated AMPS to be released.

The journey to MAPS has not been straightforward, but while the end result was never guaranteed, Garden says the interest shown by a significant number of South Africa’s top advertisers for an AMPS replacement was not a complete surprise.

“The delay between the final full AMPS being published and the new initiative presentation on March 2nd this year was for a process of consultation with marketers,” Garden explains.

“We wouldn’t have gotten to that milestone if we didn’t feel there was sufficient appetite from them. There is always that uncertainty gap: How much will it cost? When is it going to be available? What’s going to be in it?”

Marketers are not a homogeneous group

The presentations at the Johannesburg Country Club in Woodmead and in Cape Town were the first time those behind the new initiative (later called MAPS) were able to give hypothetical answers to those questions.

“There was always an element of uncertainty and risk around it, but we were confident that we were going to pull it off,” Garden says.

Marketers, from Garden’s perspective, are not a homogeneous group, as they represent different areas of the economy, with their interests resembling this diversity and complexity.

“Your top 50 ad spend marketers are investing significant amounts of money in marketing and they have the resources and skills to know what a survey like AMPS is, what it’s about, and how difficult their jobs would be if they didn’t have it,” he says.

“That doesn’t apply across the board. There is still a high level of lack of understanding [KH1] of what this was all about, but I think our presentation helped contextualise what it [MAPS] could be and what they would be missing if they did not get on board.”

There was a perception, for example, that the Establishment Survey was a replacement for AMPS, which was never the case. The Establishment Survey’s focus is not on products and brands, though, according to Garden, even if current discussions to include some form of brands and products component going forward comes to pass, it will be superficial compared to what AMPS was and what MAPS will be.

“The news of what we were doing spread, we had many inquiries, did a number of presentations, and there was a better level of understanding of what MAPS was going to be, and that is what gave rise to the level of buy-in we received.”

MAPS will mix it up more compared to AMPS

MAPS, which is not an acronym and was chosen as the new survey’s name to signal a freshness in approach, will have similarities to AMPS, but also some important differences.

“The bottom line is market research has undergone a substantial revolution in recent years via the advent of digital technologies and channels,” Garden says[KH2] [AW3] .[KH4] [AW5] 

“AMPS was entirely fieldwork and face-to-face based. In a diverse country like South Africa, that is probably still going to be the case for a while. You can’t get away from face-to-face in areas where people have no technology or access to it.”

MAPS will, however, use more mixed methods compared to AMPS, with there to be a greater emphasis on understanding the activities, attitudes, and lifestyles of consumers in relation to the products and brands they consume and interact with.

“It aims to probe deeper and that’s where we will be asking more in-depth consumer behaviour questions and looking for behavioural and product consumption insights by tacking daily activities.”

Lastly, as Garden notes, there is much discussion within the marketplace about segmentation. LSMs has its detractors and fans, but Garden believes even fans recognise that LSMs is overdue for a revitalisation.

In that vein, MAPS will feature significantly revised segmentation but still be based on the platform of LSMs. The exact nature of the revised segmentation, and its relationship with LSMs, will be dependent on which proposal the Marketing Research Foundation (MRF) accepts, of which they are considering a few.

“We have quite a diversity of inputs in that particular respect,” Garden says.

Updated AMPS will plug the gap

MAPS is expected to be released in mid-2018, but between this date and the final set of AMPS being released and the South African Audience Research Foundation being renamed the MRF, three years would have passed.

Such a gap Garden feels is too long, and with the future of MAPS secured, the MRF were able to assess the situation and release an update to AMPS.

The additional AMPS being based on the 2016 SA Population statistics was not first prize, as real surveying produces real results, but using the statistics does give trended information, Garden says.

“It helps to bridge that gap, making the two more comparable and a little more stable in terms of comparison and, in terms of a marketer’s perspective, it gives them something better to work with than the two-year-old AMPS.”

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In March, what later turned into MAPS was just coming into view and discussed at the Johannesburg Country Club in Woodmead. Read more in our article, New initiative to replace AMPS put to the industry.