Why FM is more than just a recall medium: Rabe Iyer

13 Feb,2012

By Rabe T. Iyer


Old media don’t die! They just bounce back in new avatars. Not so long ago, radio had been written off as dreary, downmarket and not so cool. Television and, later, “new media” were touted as being media of the future. Thanks to advancements in technology and a change in lifestyle, radio has made an incredible comeback.


FM radio stations are one of the most popular entertainment mediums, offering millions of Indians a great mix of shows covering music, contests, discussions, humour and gossip, delivered in local flavour by popular young radio jockeys.


Radio is a medium of the senses, bringing the listener’s imagination to life and taking him into an exciting new world of his own. Thanks to local FM stations, marketers have been able to connect with their target group, especially the youth, like never before.


According to industry experts and analysts, there are 250-300 million radio users today. This penetration is surprisingly more than that of newspapers, known to be the oldest among present day media. In addition, at 145-150 minutes per day, the consumption time of radio is more than that of television, which stands at 140.  Today, 80-90 per cent of mobile users access the radio on their phones.  The fact that the medium is mobile has clearly helped to increase its usage and popularity.


With the rollout of Phase III licensing, the Indian radio industry is optimistic of huge growth. The industry, which currently brings in around Rs1,100 crore revenue, will see 800 new radio stations across 300 towns coming up.


Here, radio-based advertising can be used effectively for communication and positioning. It is to be used well since it can target a large audience because of its immense reach. It is useful in increasing awareness about a brand or business and helps in enhancing the brand image. The past couple of years have witnessed a flurry of activity in the FM sector. Not surprisingly, the radio industry of today can be compared to television in the early and mid-nineties, and one that is all set to boom further.


With carefully worded scripts, brilliantly created situations, and tailor-made strategies, radio advertising is getting more innovative and effective day by day. It is perhaps one of the simplest yet most cost-effective and powerful means of communication in today’s world.


Studies indicate that instead of two back-to-back commercials on television, one commercial on television and another one on radio give about a 20 per cent higher brand recall. Also, a television commercial, if aired on radio, works very well as the listener can then visualize the entire advertisement. Hardly surprising that over the years, print based publications and television channels have been using radio as a support medium, as a reminder medium, and as a mean to building up frequency.


As mentioned earlier, another interesting facet of the Indian radio story is the mobile phone explosion and its convergence with FM. This has exponentially increased the width and depth of the market.


Radio offers tremendous opportunities for advertisers and media planners who need to explore various options, following which they can effectively use the medium in their media mix. Conversely, broadcasters need to develop the market by being more responsive to an advertiser’s needs. This will provide an opportunity for the market to arrive at the final verdict on the effectiveness of the medium inIndia.


Rabe T. Iyer is Business Head, 92.7 BIG FM


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