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What is “SAARF” and what does it do?

SAARF® is the name by which the South African Audience Research Foundation is familiarly known. SAARF’s main objective is to direct and publish media audience and product/brand research for the benefit of its stake-holders, thereby providing data for target marketing and a common currency for the buying and selling of media space and time. SAARF has thus the responsibility to measure the audiences of all traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cinema and out of home media.

What are SAARF “AMPS®, RAMS® and TAMS®”?

The acronyms AMPS®, RAMS® and TAMS® are the registered trade names of the major research surveys conducted by SAARF.

AMPS® stands for the All Media and Products Survey, RAMS® for the Radio Audience Measurement Survey and TAMS® for the Television Audience Measurement Survey.

Our reports are branded as SAARF AMPS®, SAARF RAMS® and SAARF TAMS®.

SAARF AMPS®, RAMS® and TAMS® provide the “common trading currencies” for advertisers and their agencies to select and buy appropriate media space and time. Media owners on the other hand use them to market their media as well as for strategic editorial and programme planning. To quote the late Wally Langschmidt (the driving force behind the founding of SAARF): “The purpose of AMPS® is to identify possible prospects for products and services and to determine which media to use to reach specific target markets.”

Why and how was SAARF formed?

In the early seventies, a small group of far-sighted persons from the marketing, media and advertising communities realised that there was a need for a comprehensive, unbiased, reliable, regular and technically excellent survey. Its purpose would be to provide data about the use of the mass media, and the consumption of products and services by users of the mass media. The data had to be comprehensive enough so that it could be used for target marketing and aid advertisers and their advertising agencies in taking decisions about the selection of media for their advertising campaigns. Media owners had to be able to use the data to market their media, and for strategic editorial and programme planning.

At that time there had been a few sporadic attempts to report on the readership of newspapers and magazines by way of surveys, which were commissioned by the publishers themselves. These included some National Readership Surveys. The SABC had been producing, at its own cost, reports on radio audiences ever since South Africa’s first commercial radio station, Springbok Radio, was launched in 1951.

In order to best meet the requirements of users, it was realised that the research should be jointly controlled by the advertisers, the advertising agencies and media owners. Therefore, a joint industry committee (JIC) would be ideal. Such joint control would, it was felt, ensure complete acceptance of the survey data because it’s planning would be conducted impartially, and the fieldwork and report production would be supervised by all interested parties.

This idea fell on receptive ears, not without much lobbying and persuasion though. The advent of television was imminent at that time, and the knowledge that research into TV audiences would be indispensable, might have contributed to its success. The mass media agreed to participate. They were the Newspaper Press Union now Print Media South Africa (PMSA), the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the Outdoor Advertising Association of South Africa (OAASA) – now Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA), and Cinemark representing cinema advertising. Similarly, the advertisers through their collective body, now the Marketing Association of South Africa (MA(SA)), and the advertising agencies through their industry body, the Association of Advertising Agencies (AAA) – now the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), were willing to join.

When was SAARF established?

The proposed formation of SAARF was announced on 24 October 1973. SAARF was formally established on 4 December 1974 and commenced operations in January 1975. The first research report was SAARF AMPS 1975, a joint venture with the National Readership Survey.

How is SAARF financed?

SAARF receives an annual endowment from two sources, the Media and Marketing Collection Agency (MAMCA) and the PMSA (representing Print). These bodies also support another important industry body, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The financing from MAMCA is obtained via an industry levy on advertising expenditure. The PMSA contributes an agreed amount. The collection of the levy is a relatively straightforward process, as it is collected by media owners on behalf of the industry. The levy is calculated after all discounts and agency commissions have been deducted, the so-called net-net levy.

How is SAARF managed?

SAARF’s highest authority is its Board of Directors and these Directors, through their respective industry bodies, represent the marketing, media and advertising industries.

SAARF Board representation is currently as follows:

ACA 1 director AMF 1 director

Cinemark 1 director MA(SA) 2 directors

NAB 2 directors OHMSA 1 director

PMSA 2 directors DMMA 1 director

(AMF is the Advertising Media Forum, NAB is the National Association of Broadcasters and DMMA is the Digital Media and Marketing Association)

In addition to these directors there is an independent Board Chairman as well as the full-time Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SAARF, Dr Paul Haupt. All directors have one vote each.

SAARF operates through a series of councils and the large number of people who serve, and have served on these councils, play an indispensable and highly appreciated role in ensuring that the needs of SAARF members and of other users of its data are met. Council members represent the interests of their constituencies.

Ad hoc committees are appointed from time to time for specific tasks, while the CEO and other SAARF personnel attend meetings of the various members as well as user groups when and if necessary. All these activities are aimed at determining the requirements of the stake-holders, and to ascertain whether the research that is conducted, succeeds in its aims.

Due to the fact that all actual research work is contracted out to independent marketing research companies, SAARF operates with a very small permanent staff. In addition to the Technical Manager, one Senior Technical Support Executive and one Technical Support Executive, who support the CEO on the technical side, there are only three other staff members who handle accounting, administration and general office duties. The technical staff’s functions include the supervision of the research contractors, dealing with user queries, training of users and user workshops. Finally, they also provide the necessary technical input and recommendations to the SAARF board and all SAARF councils.

The SAARF AMPS® survey

The SAARF AMPS® survey covers the total adult population of South Africa. Adults have always been considered to be persons 16 years and older. From 2009 however, this definition had been changed to include 15 year olds, bringing SAARF in-line with international practice.

The survey uses personal in-home interviews with thousands of people representative of the total South African adult population. Interviewers use laptops to do the interviews, utilising double screen computer assisted personal interviewing (DS-CAPI) to conduct the interviews. The questions cover the use of the mass media including all available radio and television stations, all the major sold newspapers and most major consumer magazines. Special interest consumer magazines are also included. Outdoor advertising, e.g. billboards and trailer advertising, as well as cinema are covered and a battery of questions on Internet and Cell phone usage is included.

In addition, there is a host of questions about the ownership of motor vehicles, durable items and small appliances, mobility (travelling) patterns, the use and purchasing of dozens of personal and household products, as well as personal and household details. The use of financial services and numerous other activities such as holidays, sport and shopping patterns are also covered.

For more complex areas such as financial services and retail stores, branded data are collected during the personal interview. For the remainder such as for example, fast moving consumer goods; branded data is collected by a self-completion questionnaire as described below.

From 2001 the measurement of product data has been done via self-completion questionnaires which are left behind at the end of the personal interview so that respondents can fill them in, in their own time. The product categories are measured on the basis of units personally used or purchased for yourself or your household. As from the second half of 2002, information is also gathered on approximately 1 500 brands thereby enriching the product information enormously.

A SAARF Teen AMPS® survey is done periodically and is similar to the adult survey and also measures mass media consumption, product usage and activities among South African teenagers previously aged 12 to 15 years. A simplified study of children of 7 to 11 years old is carried out from time to time. During the second six months of 2008, Teen RAMS® data was collected for 13 to 15 year olds.

How are the SAARF AMPS® data released?

The complete SAARF AMPS® database is made available to software suppliers who service the industry and the names and contact details of suppliers of SAARF data can be obtained from the SAARF website Some of the data is also available in PDF format on CD’s where the use of the mass media is cross tabulated with other variables such as demographics as well as the use of services, products and brands, while top line media results are also published on the SAARF Website. Users are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the SAARF AMPS® Technical Report, also on the Website and specifically to read the questionnaire, in order to get a better understanding of the methodology behind the information.

SAARF® also publishes a SAARF AMPS® Trends Booklet which contains a comparative summary of adult data for the most recent five years. In addition to the above, SAARF has recently launched AMPS® Online. AMPS® Online, housed at, has put the AMPS® database into the public domain. Users are able to access all the latest AMPS® data from anywhere in the world and are able to cross-tab this data electronically.

When is the SAARF AMPS® research done and when are the results available?

From 1998 until 2003 the research was carried out in two national waves every year: One wave of interviewing each year during the first half of the year, and a second wave during the second half of the year. The results were released on a 12-month rolling basis combining the most recent two interviewing waves. From 2004 to 2006, there was only one national wave of interviewing per year in the first half of the year. In 2007 and 2008 the research was once again carried out in two waves a year – the first wave being a full national wave and the second a large urban only wave.

From 2009, SAARF is once again conducting two full national waves each year.

The SAARF RAMS® Diaries

The Adult and Teen SAARF AMPS® surveys can only ask about radio listening in very general terms. The users of audience data want to know for each station, for each day of the week, and for each quarter hour of the day, how many people were listening and what their demographics were. The SAARF RAMS® diaries are designed to provide this information.

The RAMS® Diaries are placed at the end of the AMPS® DS-CAPI interview. Respondents enter details of their radio listening behaviour by quarter hour into the diary which is kept for a period of seven consecutive days. The diaries are placed in the homes of all AMPS® respondents and fieldworkers give required guidance. As from January 2004, all adults in the large urban homes selected for the AMPS® sample are used and not only the AMPS® respondent. This is called ‘flooding’. Abbreviated AMPS® information is obtained of ‘flooded’ diary keepers when the diaries are placed. After a period of 7 days, the diaries and self-completion products and brands questionnaires are collected, again by personal visits. From 2009, flooding was extended to all households in the total national sample.

The RAMS® fieldwork is done in six waves, and data is released six times per year.

How are the SAARF RAMS® data released?

From the beginning of 2004, RAMS® data are released every alternate month, covering two fieldwork waves on a rolling basis. The results cover all South African radio stations, i.e. national, regional commercial as well as public service and community radio stations. The complete electronic data bases are provided to computer bureaux that subscribe to the data and that supply analysis and media planning software to users. Top line station audiences are provided to users by e-mail and on the SAARF website. A special Branded RAMS® database is also compiled on a bi-annual basis to enable radio users to establish direct links between the listeners of radio stations and the product and brands that they consume.

SAARF Branded RAMS® is a data set which combines information that is collected through the SAARF Radio Audience Measurement Survey (RAMS®) and the SAARF All Media and Products Survey (AMPS®). For the RAMS® database, a technique called “flooding” is used to increase the sample size to allow for six data releases per year. Flooding means that in addition to the AMPS® respondents, all other adults in the household are asked to complete the radio diary. When the Branded RAMS® database is created, the flooded respondents are excluded as they did not participate in the DS-CAPI interview and self-completion questionnaire that make up AMPS®.


SAARF TAMS® is able to measure second-by-second television audiences in a representative sample of homes with TV and mains electricity through the installation of TAMS® meters. The ‘peoplemeter’ as the TAMS® meter is commonly known is an electronic, semi-automatic system used worldwide to measure television viewing behaviour. The name ‘peoplemeter’ is derived from the fact that the earlier versions could only monitor television set activities (set meters), and did not supply any viewer information.

The SAARF TAMS® peoplemeters automatically register everything that occurs on one or more TV sets in the home as well as other equipment, such as PVR’s, VCR’s, DVD players and M-Net, DStv or Top TV decoders which may be attached to them in metered homes.

To register details of a person’s television viewing, an easy to operate remote control device is provided to households for this purpose. By pushing the appropriate buttons, members of the household, as well as their visitors, can log in when they start viewing and log out at the end of a session, thus giving viewing and demographic information. The data is automatically transferred from panel homes all over the country to a central computer in Johannesburg every 24-hours.

How are the SAARF TAMS® data released?

The data is released daily except over weekends. The data for Friday, Saturday and Sunday is published on Monday, that of Monday on Tuesday, etc. The broadcasting day ends at 02:00 in the morning and the data is gathered during the rest of the night to enable SAARF to publish the data the next day. This so-called overnight or day-after reporting of television audience data was introduced on 18 July 2006. Prior to this date, the results were reported weekly.

In the past TAMS® has only measured the viewing of individuals aged 7+. From 2008, this has changed to include all individuals 4 years and older. Like our other research reports the SAARF TAMS® data is available in the form of an electronic database and the daily data is also reported weekly in PDF format on the SAARF website.

The SAARF LSM® (Living Standards Measure)

The SAARF LSM® (Living Standards Measure) is the most widely used segmentation tool in South Africa. It divides the population into 10 LSM® groups, 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

The SAARF LSM® is a unique means of segmenting the South African market. It cuts across race and other outmoded techniques of categorising people, and instead groups people according to their living standard using wealth and access indicators such as degree of urbanisation, ownership of cars and major appliances and access to basic services such as water and electricity. Because it is a multivariate segmentation tool constructed from 29 individual variables, it is a stronger differentiator than any single demographic.

SAARF was awarded the prestigious AAA “Media Innovator of the Year” award in 1993 for its contribution in helping marketers, advertising agencies and media owners to define their target markets more precisely using the SAARF LSM® groupings.

Over time users have expressed a need to segment the upper end of the LSM® scale in more detail. In response to this need, SAARF created the LSM® Extensions in 2008. In addition to the 10 LSM groups, LSM 7 – 10 have been split in half to create eight “low” and “high” sub-groups. This newest addition to the LSM® segmentation tool has allowed users to be more creative with the LSMs and creating their own unique target market.

The SAARF Life Stages

The SAARF Life Stages index groups people into 8 groups according to their life stage. This scale starts with “At-home Singles”, which represents individuals still living with their parents, without dependent children and who are not married or living together at the lower end, to “Mature Family” at the upper end. As the latter name indicates, these people are married or living together and have no dependent children under the age of 13 years old in the household.

This scale is used to identify people in different life stages with different needs. For instance, “Young Couples” would be in the market for property while the “Mature Couples” (older than 50 years with no dependents) are the prime target for luxury items and activities such as overseas travel, vacation homes, timeshare accommodation and luxury cars.

The SAARF Lifestyles

The SAARF Lifestyles consist of diverse groups of people who share similar behaviours with regard to sporting and other activities. They are based on “interest in”, “attendance at” and “participation in” 24 different sports, and on the frequency of engaging in more than 60 other activities.

The SAARF Lifestyles show the links between how people live their lives, the media and products they use and their demographics. They are available as a standard breakdown on the SAARF AMPS® database. Since 2006, the lifestyle index is calculated separately for LSM® 1 – 5 and 6 - 10.

The SAARF Attitudes

SAARF Attitudes is the newest of the SAARF segmentation tools and divides people into 5 attitudinal groups. The attitude groups are based on people’s attitudes to various statements ranging from topics such as advertising to crime. Attitudes are hard to define. Whilst clearly related to values they are less deep seated and subject to change in much shorter time periods.

Attitudes are also a manifestation of behaviour and the results of SAARF Attitudes confirm this. However whether attitudes precede behaviour or the converse is not always clear cut. They certainly help to define a person’s character and personality and can be extremely insightful in fleshing out a media user or target market.

The SAARF Development Index

Towards the mid nineties and soon after the 1994 elections, it was evident that many things in the South African Community were changing. For instance, more people had access to water and electricity and were better educated. As all these changes are measured in AMPS® and will most certainly have an influence on people’s behaviour in the marketplace, SAARF decided to regularly report on these development indicators to its stakeholders. This resulted in the publication of the SAARF Development Index. It has since become evident that the SAARF Development Index has found broader application than just the SAARF data users. The National Government as well as provincial governments are particularly interested in this information as it originates from an objective independent source. Due to a household weight set change in 2009, the development index trend-line has been broken and a new one started from 2009.

The SAARF Crime Monitor

It soon became evident from work on the SAARF Development Index that some of the negative aspects of South African society were the high unemployment rate, and linked to that the relatively high crime rate. As this also has an impact on marketing, the following questions were included in SAARF AMPS®.

“During the past 12 months, have you personally been a victim of violent crime in South Africa e.g. physical assault, mugging, gang attack, rape or hijacking?”

“During the past 12 months, have you personally been a victim of non-violent crime in South Africa e.g. housebreaking, pick-pocketing, car or cell phone theft?”

The results of these two questions are analysed geographically and demographically every time the data of a new SAARF AMPS® survey is released.

How to gain access to the SAARF AMPS®, SAARF RAMS® & SAARF TAMS® data as well as data from other SAARF products

Most leading advertising agencies, many large marketers and nearly all media owners subscribe to the services of computer bureaux which have the SAARF databases on line as well as to some or all of the SAARF PDF CDs. The names and contact details of suppliers of SAARF data can be obtained from the SAARF website.

SAARF makes copies of all its PDF CDs available to the Library of Parliament and the South African Library in Cape Town, the Bloemfontein Library and the State Library in Pretoria. The libraries of some universities and technikons subscribe to the CDs and from 2007 these CDs have also been placed on the SAARF website. All the reports since the inception of SAARF are available in SAARF’s own library, which can be visited during office hours.

The following publications are available for purchase by anyone:

· CD1 SAARF Technical Report

SAARF Media by Demographics, Services and Products (for Total Adults)

SAARF Media by LSM 1-4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

(Based on 12 month’s data)

· CD2 SAARF Branded Data (Branded Data against all demographics)

(Based on 12 month’s data)

· SAARF Segmentation CD

· SAARF Trends Booklet

The SAARF AMPS®, SAARF RAMS® and SAARF TAMS® databases are available for purchase.

To order databases and publications, please contact Fiona Lister at or

The following data are available on the website:

SAARF AMPS® Technical Report

SAARF RAMS® Technical Report

SAARF RAMS® Station Audience Summary Report: Commercial/Community

SAARF TAMS® Technical Report

SAARF TAMS® Reports (weekly update)

SAARF AMPS® Online (housed on website)

SAARF® Training

SAARF conducts training seminars in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg each year and in other centres on request. Information about the dates is widely disseminated and is also available on our Website:

As the LSM® is widely used, regular LSM® Workshops are also scheduled in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Other SAARF Activities

As it is important for SAARF to stay abreast of international developments, SAARF is a member of EMRO, the European Media Research Organisation (the only member outside Europe). One or more of the staff are members of the Southern African Marketing Research Association (SAMRA) and the World Association of Research Professionals (ESOMAR). International symposia dealing with media research in particular, are attended when possible, to consider improvements to the research.

In the early nineties, SAARF became actively involved in the establishment of industry media and product surveys in some sub-Saharan African countries. In conjunction with these countries, SAARF has formed the Pan Africa Media Research Organisation (PAMRO) to promote media and product research in Africa. Since the inception of PAMRO, SAARF has provided the secretariat for this new organisation (

SAARF is also a founder member of I-JIC a global forum for Joint Industry Committees (JICs) and at the founding meeting SAARF was referred to as a “model JIC for the rest of the world”. The objectives of this forum are similar to those of EMRO and PAMRO – to exchange ideas and to learn from one another’s successes and failures as well as to promote the formation of JICs in as many countries as possible

It goes without saying that SAARF cannot be complacent about its research tools. Every year’s budget contains some provision for validation and developmental research to check that the data are valid and where possible, to improve the research tools.

SAARF’s Strategy for the Future

The structure of the media industry in South Africa has changed enormously over time, as it has in most parts of the world. Generally, these changes have resulted in the introduction of new media such as satellite TV, suburban “free sheets” and the Internet and in addition, fragmentation and proliferation of established media types have taken place. Interactive media, like the Internet and its World Wide Web, have also added new media dimensions to an increasingly complex, multi-media environment. The end result is a bewildering array of media choices for both the consumer and for the advertiser. Naturally this changing media scenario has presented a further research challenge to SAARF. During 1996 and again in 2000 and 2002 SAARF conducted strategic reviews of what the industry wanted SAARF to produce. During 2003, an Industry Task Force again looked at SAARF’s functions as well as the content of the AMPS survey and a similar exercise took place in March 2007.

SAARF in co-operation with the Television Industry and other SAARF stakeholders also investigated what the television scene will look like in 5 to 10 years from now, as there are huge implications for the ongoing measurement of this dynamic medium.

How to contact SAARF


Street address: 54 Queens Road, Bryanston

Postal address: SAARF, PO Box 98874, Sloane Park 2152

E-mail address:

Tel: (+27) (11) 463-5340/1/2 (International)

Fax: (+27) (11) 463-5010 (International)

January 2012

© 2012