Is mentioning “terms and conditions apply” a waste of ad space?

 I’m not really sure if this is a South African advertising phenomenon, radio to be exact, so for the sake of not ranting about some countries I’m not sure of I’ll stick to South Africa.

It’s a no-brainer that entities such as TV Channels and Radio stations depend on advertising for most part of their income. So, as one would expect, watching TV or listening to radio means you will be fed with adverts — there’s hardly 10 minutes of broadcasting, without not being sold something.

All radio ads I’ve been fed so far have one thing in common, their punch line is exactly the same:

“…terms and conditions apply.”

I’m fully aware that advertisers are obliged to include that line at the end of their ads — bodies like The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) comes to minds. They actually state that:

Advertisements shall state that conditions apply.

I’d like to excuse TV adverts as they usually, though in tiny print, state that terms and conditions do apply plus state the terms and conditions that applies.

If you’re going to tell listeners that terms and conditions apply but say nothing about the terms and conditions, what value does that last two seconds of a radio ad add to the listeners?

One second makes a huge difference to the structure of the ad and what the advertisers are charged.
Do consumers really need to be fed ‘terms and conditions apply’ all the time?

Obliging to this line means advertisers forfeit 6.66% of their ad space, on a 30 seconds ad. That’s money on a phrase that is already tattooed at the back of our minds before we even consume the ads.

Let’s follow Entrepreneur Magazine’s advice on radio ads, and use their frequency ‘suggestions’ for my calculations.
But don’t run a schedule with fewer than 18 commercials in one week. Preferably opt for 24 or more. And don’t advertise for one or two weeks and then stop. People need time to get used to hearing your business name, particularly if you’re new, and then they need to hear what your business is all about. [via Entrepreneur Mag]

Rough calculation*

Let’s just say, a 30 seconds ad cost R 30,000 every time it is broadcasted.

R 30,000 / 30 sec. = R 1,000 per second.

Now let’s minus 2 sec. (dedicated to “terms and conditions apply”) = 28 sec.
It will cost advertisers R 2,000 to tell consumers what they already know and expect, every time an ad is aired.

If we take Entrepreneur Magazine’s suggestion of 24 or more per week, for four weeks.

R 30,000 x 24 = R 720,000 per week

x 4 weeks = R 2,880,000 per month
Approximately 6.66% or R 191,808 paid belongs to “terms and conditions apply”, not the advertiser’s message!

*Maths wasn’t my forte at high school.