SINGAPORE — The Singapore government has spent an estimated sum of between S$150 million and S$175 million, or around 0.2 per cent of total Government expenditure, for advertising in FY2019. In FY2020 and FY2021, it increased between 30 and 50 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
This was revealed by the Minister for Communications and Information in response to a parliament question filed by Mr Leong Mun Wai on Monday (9 Jan) over the annual spending by the Government for advertising from 2011 to 2021.
The spending that Mr Leong asked for includes advertisements published on:
- traditional media such as print and television advertisements,
- online media such as Facebook and TikTok advertisements
- sponsored posts and videos by online content creators and influencers;
The Non-constituency member of Parliament (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) also asked for the total number of impressions and clicks for each advertising medium for the same period.
Mrs Josephine Teo noted in her response that the Government explained that it did not keep track of the total amount Ministries spend on online advertisement as stated previously to an earlier question by Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong in July 2016.
Former Minister for Communications and Information, Assoc Prof Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, in response to Mr Tan’s question, said that the Government does not keep track of the total amount ministries spend on online advertisements.
“However, MCI itself spent approximately $4.3 million last year (or 0.5% of our operating budget) on digital advertisements to support a wide range of major policies and initiatives such as the Pioneer Generation Package, SkillsFuture, Marriage and Parenthood and Integration issues. This was spread out across multiple online media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Google.”
Mrs Teo, however, noted that, with the introduction of Whole-of-Government demand aggregation for advertising procurement in October 2018, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has been able to track a significant proportion of annual spending for advertising.
“MCI estimates that the Government’s annual spending for advertising was between $150 million and $175 million or around 0.2 per cent of total Government expenditure in FY2019. It increased between 30 and 50 per cent in FY2020 and FY2021, due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis during which the Government needed to reach wide segments of the population, get messages to them frequently to keep them up-to-date on the unfolding nature of the pandemic crisis as well as to apprise them of essential information including the benefits of vaccination and vaccination locations, regular advertising to encourage take-up of the bivalent vaccine is on-going and continues to be needed.”
She pointed out that the Government also increased spending for advertisements to disseminate information on support schemes, employment assistance, upskilling and reskilling training for career development and pivoting to jobs in growth sectors.
For the first half of FY2022, estimated spending is between $50 and $75 million under the demand aggregation contracting for advertising on traditional and online media.
Of this, more than half went towards advertising in traditional media like print, Free-to-Air television and radio.
Mrs Teo said that further breakdown of the spending cannot be released because it is market sensitive and affects MCI’s bargaining position with media owners on pricing of advertisement placement rates.
She also noted that MCI does not track the total number of impressions and clicks for each advertising medium for all Government advertising because Ministries themselves are responsible for measuring the effectiveness of their advertising.
“As an indication from MCI’s own advertising initiatives, COVID-19 vaccination and safe management measures on e-Getai shows that are targeted at Chinese seniors received over 7.5 million views in total.”
According to Mrs Teo, MCI also advertised several catchy music videos on the benefits of vaccination to appeal to different age groups and these have received over 9 million views online.
One of the music videos, “Get your shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi” which features the character Phua Chu Kang, received over 1.7 million views on YouTube and 1.8 million views on Facebook. Polls show that three in four members of the public think that the Government has provided sufficient information on COVID-19.
Over 86 per cent agreed that vaccination messages helped in their decision to get vaccinated, said Mrs Teo.
It bears noting that the advertising amount mentioned by the Ministry does not cover the entire spending by the government ministries on public relations.
Under the class “International & Public Relations, Public Communications”, the ministries spent a total of S$341 million in FY2019 and S$462 million in FY2020.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, alone, spent S$265.2 million in FY2020 and S$213.1 million in FY2021, representing 57 per cent and 44 per cent of the total spending by all ministries.