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Experts argue over effectiveness of outdoor and radio advertising

10-January-2005
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Experts argue over effectiveness of outdoor and radio advertising

Outdoor and other signage advertising depends wholly on powerful photographs for message conveyance. They can be effective for image advertising messages, and especially to reinforce messages already being presented by other media. When it’s an image-centric campaign, it’s obvious that radio cannot do much in that region. It doesn’t have the strong photographic impact of outdoor, or the drama involved in it. Yet, it serves as a powerful reminder tool, and is fundamental for drilling brand messages and jingles into the consumer’s ear. These two mediums have till date been given step-motherly treatment by marketers, consequently, they form only a fraction of the total ad budget. Both of the mediums address a localised audience and are looking to devise new ways of cracking through the consumer base of a given city or town. Amongst the two, which is more cost-effective? Which offers more value for money? Which makes more business sense?

Himanshu Chakrawarti, Marketing Head, Trent, asserts, “Radio just manages to scratch the surface, for an image conscious brand such as ours. We find outdoor to be much more cost effective and 10 times impact-full when it comes to giving the brand message. Which is why, you see all localised retailers taking on massive outdoor campaigns. Radio spots are a poor bet for local service business advertising. Use it as a last resort if other mediums haven’t panned out for you. We use radio mainly as a reminder medium if there is some kind of new promotion we are taking on, otherwise it’s mainly outdoor for us. You have an active audience in outdoor, people who are alert and who are commuting in the city – unlike radio, where many times, the audience can be extremely passive. The only disadvantage with outdoor is the lack of desired space and clutter. You may not always get the site that you are banking on.”

Aloke Banerjee, Domestic Business Head of Bombay Dyeing, however, has a different story to tell. “As a supplementary medium, we derive maximum mileage from radio as opposed to outdoor – mainly because it is a cost-effective medium and it’s easier to measure the ROI. It’s difficult to ascertain exactly who’s seen what hoarding, and exactly what kind of impact it has been delivered. But for radio, there is enough frequency, in addition to numbers and a large frame of monitoring on what the station is delivering. A lot many restrictions are there for outdoor, such as the sites that are available and the spots that garner you the most visibility. Which is why radio works for us,” he states.

Again Kartik Raina, COO, Dalmia ConsumerCare, feels, for an FMCG product, the preferred choice would definitely be radio, as it can bring in some amount of substance and drama to the branding activity, and create the same kind of ambience within the studio that creates the TVC on small screen. “FM stations are doing well for themselves, as they provide advertisers with various options such as buying programmes in chunks, spinning a theme around the product, segmented shows, jingles and so on. If you need to address more of numbers in SEC C, D and E, you could always look at AIR, whereas for SEC A, B…you could always invest in private FM stations. Segmentation is thus possible.”

Analysing further, he adds, “The biggest disadvantage with outdoor is that there is limited space and you may not always secure the right spots which add value to your brand. Plus, an outdoor audience is largely mobile which is why you have to make an impression in less than five seconds. In time, hoardings tend to turn into a part of the scenery, unless those are being pulled down and replaced with new ones. Again, it’s possible to convert hoardings and bring in some movement or effects, but these come at a high cost. Creating that kind of ambience in outdoor is just not easy.”

Outdoor versus radio – a clear picture about the perception and reality of the two mediums in terms of effectiveness, is yet to arrive. One on hand, there’s a medium that is denigrated as passive, yet the other does not guarantee an active alert audience either. Either way spends for both continue to occupy less than a quarter of the total ad budget and both are destined to be regarded only as safe, supplementary mediums.

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