Challenges and the future of Radio @IRF

16 May,2016

The Indian Radio Forum (IRF) held this year’s annual conference on May 13 at The Westin, Mumbai. RajatUppal, National Marketing Head, Red FM and AshwinPadmanabhan, COO, Reliance Broadcast Network opened the conference. “There are great opportunities for Radio and we have to make Radio relevant” said Uppal. Padmanabhan focused on what challenges lie ahead for radio. “One of the biggest challenges is the measurability of listeners. It needs to be looked into”, he said.


The first session was conducted by Gaurav Mehta, CEO, OLX South Asia on ‘Measuring ROI for Radio’. Return On Investment (ROI, is indeed an concern for advertisers and media agencies who are challenged more than ever to achieve it and sales goals due to the increasingly diversified media landscape and extraneous market challenges. Mehta spoke about the usage of analytics to understand the contribution of Radio spend to business. He said that adfolk speak about radio being a potential medium but they do not invest on it. He ended his session by saying that “We do not understand radio as much as we should”.


The next session was a panel discussion on ‘Telling brand stories through effective and creative radio’. This was moderated by Reliance Broadcast COO Ashwin Padmanabhan and the panelists for this session were Manish Bhatt, Founder Director of Scarecrow Communications, Manohar Nayak, Managing Director, Lingo India and Sunil Kumaran, Country Head, Dentsu Story Lab. Few marketers have been able to leverage the strengths of the radio medium to design effective, creative radio advertising that brings brand stories alive in the minds and life of a radio listener. Nayak,  who considers radio to be his first wife, said:  “Radio is a very personal space. It can be used effectively to reach out to people”.  Kumaran spoke on what needs to be focused on to make it more effective. “One basic challenge is to understand the medium deeply. Measurability is also a huge concern.” “We are trying to make radio cool by using social media,” said Bhatt about increasing the reach of radio.


This was followed by a session on ‘How can radio kill the video star?’ by Hari Krishnan, the Managing Director of Zenith Optimedia Group. Krishnan’s presentation was quirky and creative from the word go. He started the session by showing the1979 music video of ‘Video killed the radio star’ by Buggles. Then he proceeded the session by saying that he will be giving tips on how to take revenge on the visual medium. “Look at the limitations of the visual medium and use it in your radio pitches”, he said. According to him, radio retained its magic but brands left radio behind. “I think the time of radio is here. Radio offers opportunities beyond just reach and engagement” was his signing off message to the audience.


Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM, moderated the discussion on ‘Radio- selling beyond FCT’. The panelists for this discussion were VanitaKeswani, CEO, Madison Media Sigma, Suresh Balakrishna, CEO India South Asia, Kinetic and Jaideep Singh, Senior Vice President and Business Head- Integrated Network Solutions, Viacom 18. FM brands today offer radio beyond FCT (Free Commercial Time). We all know about the various awards shows and concerts hosted by these radio channels. So, why is there a need to sell FCT only on radio, was a question which was critically discussed in this session. They unanimously agreed that organisations should not just be concerned about business and numbers. They should explore the medium more and creatively tackle situations. “Radio has larger potential because they can create localised content”, said Singh.


The first panel discussion post lunch was moderated by Suman Srivastava, Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, FCB Ulka. Topic of the discussion was ‘Is radio relevant in a mobile world’ and the panelists were Nandini Dias, CEO, Lodstar UM, Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network and Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President- Marketing, Product, Digital and e-Commerce, HDFC Life. They all agreed that in today’s rapidly evolving technology, it is about the co-existence of radio and digital. Katial agreed that, “It is not about one versus the other but about co-existing.” Tripathy shared that how they created a radio campaign to promote their digital campaign. “The way we perceive radio has changed. It is not just about music but the power of sound,” said Dias


The second panel discussion was about ‘Steaming music- threat or opportunity for FM”.  It was moderated by Prashant Panday, Managing Director and CEO, Radio Mirchi (ENIL) with Aditya Swamy, Digital Media and Content Marketing, Flipkart and Shridhar Subramaniam, President- India and Middle East, Sony Music Entertainment as the panelists. They all agreed that it is clearly an opportunity for FM and if they think beyond the FM platform there is a chance of growth for their brand. Subramaniam said the biggest threat iss the machine algorithm which takes an average measure to calculate the consumer’s taste and offers them that particular category every time they tune in. Both the panelists agreed that FM broadcasters need to embrace streaming. “They should offer local experience and try to figure out a revenue stream,” said Swamy.


The conference ended with the ‘Radiopitch Challenge’. On its sixth successful year, the top four from the Excellence in Radio Awards (ERA) category of ‘Most outstanding use of radio in an Ad campaign’ are invited to present a media plan for a product in front of the judges. This year’s winners were Team Motivator who presented their campaign for ‘Hike messenger’ and the runners up were Group M media for their ‘Crash the Pepsi IPL’ presentation.


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