Research group Consulta has waded into the recent Advertising Standards Authority ruling on whether or not Vodacom could use the title of “best network in South Africa” in its advertising.
The ASA ruled last week that Vodacom had to remove all references to it being the ‘best network for three years’, after MTN brought a complaint against the group saying that Vodacom was misleading consumers by shifting the metric is used to define itself as the best.
MTN argued that Vodacom had previously relied on network speed test data to back its claim as being the ‘best network’ – but when data from speed tests like Ookla and MyBroadband Speed Test no longer substantiated its advertisements, it switched to SAcsi’s measures.
This created a situation where real-world network quality tests from MyBroadband showed MTN had the best network, while Vodacom claimed to have the best network based on the consumer survey run by Consulta.
In its ruling, the ASA initially sided with Vodacom in the matter, but on appeal, the ruling was overturned in MTN’s favour.
The ASA Tribunal said that Vodacom conceding that it was no longer the fastest network – which was used in previous years to back up its claim – undermined its current claim to the best network title.
The tribunal also said that using SAcsi’s data was flawed, as the group analysed three years of data and rated Vodacom as the best network in 2017. It did not rank the network as the best in both 2015 and 2016.
SAcsi, however, argued that the tribunal got it wrong. “(The ASA) stated that the 2017 score is based on ‘an analysis of certain factors over a three-year period’, which is factually incorrect, as each year is measured and reported on separately,” the group said.
“It also appears that there is some confusion over the use of ‘network’,” it said.
According to Consulta CEO and chair of the SAcsi, Adré Schreuder, the index uses a wider definition of the term ‘network’, which includes the quality perceptions of technology components, products, services and operations of the four large mobile networks.
“It does not only measure the technical GSM infrastructure of the mobile network but includes network quality and performance as part of a much larger set of metrics,” he said.
“The SAcsi score benchmarks performance between brands that exceed or fall short of customer expectations. It assesses how well a brand performs against respondents’ perception of the ideal customer experience.”
The methodology involves survey interviews with randomly selected customers each year.
Based on its methodology, Schreuder said the validity of “best” in this context means that a random and statistically valid sample of customers have rated an organisation as leader on the SAcsi Index.
“Consulta have verified the statistical significance of the lead score to conclude that ‘best’ is logical and valid,” he said.
According to Consulta, the Mobile Networks Industry Benchmark SAcsi scores for the last three years, measured in each year, is as follows: