Why Aren’t FMCG Brands Getting the Sari-sari Store Effect on Digital?

One recurring theme of several high profile Chief Marketing Officers in the Philippines is that digital advertising doesn’t give them the “sari-sari store” effect that they get when they air materials on TV. This means that the day after launching a TVC they see a direct impact on sales due to people buying from sari-sari stores. I have a theory on why they don’t get the same impact using digital despite the equal reach and frequency that they’re supposedly getting through online awareness channels like Facebook and YouTube.

“Views” Metric is Misleading and Causing Underspending

My theory, in a nutshell, is that brands are underspending on their online video materials because they are misled by “views”. A “view” is just 3 seconds on Facebook, regardless if it autoplays or if it’s clicked. That’s less than 10% of a usual 30-second TVC. On YouTube it’s usually just 50% because people click “Skip Ad” the moment they get the chance to (huwag na tayo maglokohan).

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It’s my contention that for the purposes of achieving the “sari-sari store effect”, a view should only be counted if it’s at least 80%-90% of the material watched by the customer (there are some ad bodies that say it should be 100% but that’s crazy). If we measure at 80% I believe that brands will be spending the right amount of money to be able to actually deliver the message to their customers effectively.

The Black Hole of Programmatic Video Outside of YouTube and Facebook

My second theory is that a lot of ad spend is wasted on programmatic video ads outside of Facebook and YouTube. These are the auto-play and unskippable video ads that run on various players by digital publishers. These tend to be more expensive, less transparent, and ineffective because seriously — who do you know loves to watch online videos on websites these days? Most of video discovery happens on either YouTube or Facebook.

See Also: Apple Wants to Kill Auto-Play Video and Remarketing Ads

The Most Powerful Ad Units: 6-15 second Unskippable YouTube Ads and Facebook Silent Videos

With both factors considered above, my hypothesis is that the three most effective video ads are the 6 second YouTube Bumper Ad (unskippable 6 second ad), 15 second YouTube Ad, and boosted auto-play silent videos on Facebook. You’re effectively able to achieve 100% views but you still need to create built-for-digital and built-for-mobile ads and not just slap your TVC on YouTube. That way you’re able to delight your customers while delivering your brand message.

It’s a little trickier with Facebook given the available video ad units. From my experience the silent auto-play type materials deliver better view-through compared to the usual 1-2 minute “viral digital” creative materials. Every once in a while though there are breakout materials like the Kwentong Jollibee series which just took the country by storm.

Another Strategy: Multi-Screen

Another way is to not look at digital in isolation. A powerful and most likely cost effective strategy to achieve the “sari-sari store” effect is by combining TVC + Digital Video. You can drive up frequency using digital via the ad units I mentioned earlier. You can reduce your TVC media spend and play around with the right combination with digital so you get better over-all ROI.

Or Maybe It’s Not About Awareness But Digital Should Cut Across the Whole Funnel

Another perspective to consider is that treating digital like TV doesn’t give the platform justice. After all digital, when you have the right platforms, allows you to see through the entire conversion funnel. We had a quick chat with Dennis Perez, Head for Media of Unilever Philippines and the chairman of the IMMAP Digital Measurement Board and this is what he had to say about it:

“People are too focused on reach and awareness on digital. It limits the role of digital in the campaign and it doesn’t differentiate the medium from TV. So attribution will always appear in favor of traditional mediums. However, if you factor in the benefits of digital like the ability to do remarketing, to bring them closer to conversion, then perspective will change: from a short term sari-sari effect to long term and deeper lifetime value.” – Dennis Perez, Head of Media, Unilever PH

In short — keep testing and keep pushing the limits of what you can do with digital. Find what works for your brand through trial-and-error and relentlessly optimize.

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of Unlocked.ph and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox (unbox.ph). Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Jerome says:

    How about sponsorship of video content online? Does that attract the same clients experimenting on digital marketing? Can people producing online expect income from this as well?

  • […] is a follow-up article on our previous article “Why Aren’t FMCG Brands Getting the Sari-sari Store Effect from Digital Advertising&#822…. These are insights that we picked up during the Facebook Mobile Moves Holidays event held recently […]

  • Markus says:

    The mentality of a lot of marketing people here in the Philippines is stuck in the 70’s.
    Of course they’re going to say TV is more effective: They have an audience who have no choice but to sit through commercials. These ads are aired several times in a row, on consecutive commercial breaks.
    This (1) provides no incentive to fine tune their ads since the audience is bludgeoned over the head with the way the advertising is presented, which leads to (2) diminished incentive to make quality advertising – they’re still slavishly using in the advertising storyboards created in the 50s and 60s, which means (3) longer commercials that lead back to the first point.
    Digital advertising destroys this because the people who see digital ads are never captive, demand attention-getting ads, and to have these presented in the least amount of time possible, or else . Auto-play and unskippable ads circumvent this and forces it back to the TV formula, which present misleading statistics. Advertisers who refuse to acknowledge that digital advertising can succeed or are basing their digital advertising on a TVC model fail to realize that people can now *choose* their ads, and thus fail to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

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