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E-commerce advertising on radio yet to pick up

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E-commerce advertising on radio yet to pick up

According to a report by comScore for Assocham India, India is the fastest growing online market. The rapid growth has changed not only spending and marketing demographics, but also advertising dynamics for e-commerce.

To leverage the increasing importance of digital, create loyal user base and strengthen funding options, e-commerce advertising has increased phenomenally. While some of the best creatives are witnessed across television, print and outdoor space, e-commerce on radio is still an unusual pairing.

Ashwin Padmanabhan, Business Head, Big FM shared with exchange4media that out of the entire e-commerce fraternity in India, 15 per cent to 20 per cent advertise on radio, that too only for specific campaigns. So, what is it that holds back the industry from utilising one of the cheapest and flexible advertising platforms?

Why is e-commerce advertising on radio not a common sight?
Being a comparatively new medium, e-commerce is still working out the best way to reach out their target audience.

“E-commerce itself is a new industry in India. They are currently looking at raising funds and thus, advertising on visible mediums makes sense to them. Thus, till the time they settle and chalk out the best media plan for them, it may take some time,” said Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City.

While other platforms give the opportunity for mass advertising, radio is more geography oriented. Thus, e-commerce marketers need to be more specific while targeting through radio, which is not something they are looking at right now.

Brands such as Myntra, eBay and Jabong have been advertising on radio, however, it comprises more of spots for a particular campaign or initiative, rather than an out an out radio campaign for the brand. Jabong launched a number of pilot campaigns on radio on various stations across different cities. While the campaign received good response in some markets, it did not receive the expected response in a few.

“Lack of creatives from radio perspective has been one of the reasons for lack of e-commerce advertising on radio,” added Padmanabhan. He explained that while e-commerce brands can show their product in all the other mediums and provide a brand experience to their consumers, they are not confident about doing the same on radio.

What can be done?
Absence of e-commerce on radio has been explained by a number of reasons, however, does this imply that radio as an advertising medium is not conducive to e-commerce? Highest propensity of people who are radio listeners in terms of duplication is with online and television, giving e-commerce marketers a big opportunity create and reach out to the existing target audience.

The best quality about radio is that it can serve as a mainstream advertising tool as well as an effective supplementary medium, thus giving e-commerce marketers a lot of scope for creating a media multiplier effect. “It is proven that after six crores of advertising on television, if the seventh crore is spent on radio, it gives 25 per cent higher audience view,” added Purohit.

A radio-only campaign might not be comfortable to e-commerce players for a number of reasons, but experimenting on the medium can open a lot of opportunities for them. “Jabong is currently focusing on digital and television, but we are simultaneously experimenting on radio. Creating brand experience on two to three touch points helps a lot and thus, radio should be used to create recall value,” said Manu Jain, Co-founder, Jabong.

While e-commerce owners focus on digital and television, there are a number of things that radio players can do to make the medium more effective for them. For instance, radio’s geographical trait can be used to create tailored campaigns for particular TG. Radio players can also bank on on-ground activations to help e-commerce players give a feel factor (in literal terms) to their target audience which no other medium can provide.

Except being a new industry, e-commerce is no different from any other industry. Thus, effective spots, strong creatives and using radio for its intrinsic strength (media multiplier effect) can help e-commerce leverage radio to its most.


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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.