The advent of FM a few years has given the good old radio a new lease of life. The medium, which was losing out to television and the Internet, is staging a comeback, and with the second phase if FM expansion, we can look forward to over 300 FM stations in India.
What’s more, industry players believe that radio has always been and will continue to be a strong medium that connects with the listeners like no other medium. We all know of the benefits that radio offers – interactivity, close connect with listeners, constant companion for those on the move, and an exclusive platform for ones’ message. But there are challenges too – how will radio be considered and used as a mainstream medium by advertisers? Will radio effectively compete with the Internet and TV? How can a radio station stand out when they all sound the same? How does one measure the radio’s performance?
Today, the challenge for Radio lies in changing the way advertisers perceive the medium. Commenting on the radio as an effective medium, Pushpinder Singh, Founder, Saints and Warriors, said, “TV is the medium now, but radio has touched India before and it is certainly getting stronger again.” Singh, however, agreed that radio stations could only get stronger by connecting with their listeners on a local level and differentiate themselves from the other radio stations.
Sugato Gupta, Head, Marketing, Marico, said that if the radio had to get advertisers’ support, then the medium would need to be measured accurately. This is what will tip the scales in radio’s favour and brand managers will consider it as a lead medium rather than a medium for micro marketing.
India still has to catch up with radio audience measurement techniques that are already popular worldwide. Some of these measurements include telephone recall, co-incidental, the diary system, personal interview and electronic meter.
According to Mark Neely, Regional Director, Radio, Asia Pacific, Nielsen Media Research, Watch Meter (WM) was a new technology that could accurately measure different media consumption habits of consumers across mediums like Radio, Print, Outdoor and TV.
Developed in Switzerland, WM is like a wearable watch with a standard memory chip that catches signals whenever a respondent tunes in to the radio. The WM is also accurate since it records six times in a minute, thereby recording only the amount of time that people actually listen to the radio or consume any other medium.
Neely stressed that electronic measurements like WM would go a long way in accurately measuring radio consumption patterns, but at the same time added that marketers should also consider a station’s characteristics and who it catered to. Accurate measurement methods combined with engaging content will get the radio the recognition that it deserves.