Ten years on, is radio still an insignificant medium for advertisers? (Text & Video)

23 May,2012


By Robin Thomas (Videos by Insiyah Rangwala)


Radio is said to be a medium that has been re-born. With the FM Phase III rollout anticipated this year, radio is expected to penetrate further into the country, as a result not only will there be an increase in revenues but, also the fact that newer revenue streams will open up. Multiple frequencies, allowing news and current affairs, sports broadcasting will also bring more innovations in radio, new genre radio stations and great amount of differentiation in content.


Radio’s share of media spends, according to industry estimates, is expected to rise from 4 per cent to 5 per cent in two years. Among categories that advertise on Radio, Real Estate, Telecom, Retail, Education and TV channels are the ones advertise the most.



What radio players say?

Harshad Jain
Joy Chakraborthy
Joy Chakraborthy
Apurva Purohit
B Surender

So, does radio still need to be evangalised? Is radio still insignificant to for advertisers? The India Radio Forum (IRF) 2012 discussed these issues. According to Mr Harshad Jain, Business Head – Radio and Entertainment, HT Media: “From a client standpoint, radio is still an insignificant medium. It all boils down to value addition of the medium – how can radio, as a medium, ensure value addition to its advertisers? The entire orientation has to be more than just vanilla FTCs. Radio is still an under-penetrated medium and has still a long way to go.”


Mr Joy Chakraborthy, CEO, TV Today Network (which includes Oye! FM) pointed out that the Indian radio industry needs to stand united, not only on issues related to government regulations, but also for business related issues. “There needs to be some amount of unity among the radio fraternity. For the industry to survive we must stand together, not just for regulatory issues but even for businesses. Today radio is the most underpriced medium and unity within the industry will help us drive our sales.”


Ms Apurva Purohit. CEO, Radio City was of the view that radio is still at an infancy stage and like any other medium, it will also take some time to evolve. She was quick to point out that television took many years to be what it is today. “Today the ad pie of radio is 4 per cent, the geographical coverage of radio is merely 30 per cent but, with Phase III the geographical coverage will see tremendous increase. Every year the number of advertisers on radio has only been growing, what we need to do now is to encourage these advertisers to spend more on radio and reach out to newer advertisers.”


Mr B Surender, Senior Vice President and National Sales Head, Red FM said: “In the last two years radio saw tremendous growth. With the launch of Phase III also expected soon, the future of radio is certainly bright. Even radio stations outside metros saw tremendous growth, innovations in smaller towns and cities were high and in the next two years radio’s advertising pie is expected to reach 6 to 7 per cent.”


The client perspective:

Few years ago, radio was seen as a supplementary medium for advertisers wherein they would spend only the left over media spends on radio. This is said to be changing, slowly and steadily as advertisers are beginning to take radio seriously. There has also been an increase in the number of on-ground activations which has more or less become complementary for radio stations as a value addition to their clients. However, digital media, which was at one point in time an even smaller medium than radio is today, said to have become an even larger and a more powerful medium than radio and a possible reason could be because Internet, unlike radio, is a highly measureable medium.


Giving a critical view on radio as an effective local medium, Mr Vinay Bhatia, Customer Care Associate and Senior Vice President Marketing and Loyalty said that radio has a very low share of mind and share of value medium to advertisers today. Digital on the other hand, which started off from 2 per cent of advertising share has a much higher share of mind and share of value. “To maximize assets, radio has to deliver business. Radio needs to world closely with clients, it can also look at which area of a city or town works better for clients. It can also partner with retailers to play radio in stores while customers are shopping. Radio is a response medium, therefore it allows a lot of engagement and interaction with listeners. However, there needs to be more innovations for advertisers on radio because clients love innovation and as a result innovation will bring more money for the radio station.”


Arpita Menon, Head-Media Planning & Buying, Star India Pvt Ltd
Premjeet Sodhi, COO, Lintas Media Group
Harshad Jain, Business Head- Radio & Entertainment, HT Media

Mr Shubhranshu Singh, Marketing Director-India and South Asia, Visa explained: “As far as Visa is concerned, radio has delivered us handsome returns. Radio, I believe, is economical and one can expect higher returns, it is certainly a cost effective medium. However, radio must come to clients as an industry and not as one single radio channel – it should be bolder in its approach towards clients and thus stay on top of mind of clients.”


Mr Kartik Sharma, Managing Partner, Maxus had a slightly different take on the medium. He was of the view that radio is the oldest form of social media platform, it allows great amount of interactivity and engagement with the listeners. “Radio is in the business of producing great contents and so are the brands, I believe that both radio and digital can depend on each other. Radio is in the business of providing great content, the power of radio is sound and creativity therefore the mindset to learn this medium is very different.”


Ms Shubha George, COO, MEC noted that in order to maximize radio’s asset and gain share of market spends, it needs to market itself more. She stated that radio today is sold and not marketed, what it needs is more marketing. She also pointed out that the industry must find ways to monetize every single phone calls and SMSes it receives and market them extensively.


The Indian radio industry still needs a lot of evangelizing or marketing of the medium. Radio needs more nurturing, it needs to probably find newer ways of achieving better ROIs and thus increase greater share of media spends. More innovations in radio will also bring in more money and help it stay on top of advertisers’ minds. Radio needs to partner their clients and find newer ways to generate better ROIs for their clients. Radio needs to vigorously market itself to the advertisers and explain the power of the medium so that it becomes a primary medium for marketers.


Image: Clipart, Imaging: Rafiq


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