From just four prominent players in the Indian FM space a year back, the listener today has multiple choices, across cities. Even as the number of players is growing, the fact is that almost all the channels sound the same, with the usual blend of film music and popular numbers. Is radio in India really growing?
exchange4media.com asked a few questions on this and media experts state that there has to be a level of differentiation among the channels for the medium to truly grow.
Speaking about the need for a fresh content strategy on radio, Hiren Pandit, Managing Partner, GroupM ESP, observed, “At present, most of the radio content is RJ led and the music being played is common. Music will have to make the difference to attract a niche audience and thereby allow TG-specific advertising.”
Agreeing with him, Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media reiterated, “With more players, the ideal place would be when there would be niche content so that the stations can deliver specific TGs and hence make a place for themselves in the media plan. Today there is fragmentation in the space and it is getting accentuated because of similar content.”
Insight’s Sai Nagesh agreed with the other experts stating that content customisation will play a key role for radio. He brought out the need for radio stations to engage, rather than just talk to the listener. He stated, “It is all about connecting with the audience.”
Another point that Nagesh made is that radio is increasingly emerging as a personal medium. He said, “If you look at the purchase funnel from point/spot awareness to purchase/buy -- the role of personal media has increased compared to mass media and radio has emerged as the best form of personal medium.”
Has the increase in the number of players cut down on a station’s ability to increase its ad rates?
Arumugam agreed that competition does impact pricing. Throwing more light on this, she said, “At the end of the day it’s all about demand and supply. In a scene of one or two or three channels, the demand is higher than the supply. However, when the number of players increase and all are offering more or less the same thing, the supply is higher than the demand -- this will have an effect on pricing. The listener, and hence the advertiser, has more choice so the station’s bargaining power does get affected.”
Nagesh believes that a significant advantage that radio has is of ‘response’. He said, “Radio allows interactivity and unlike most other mediums, it gives you response you can measure. I think cost per interaction (CPI) will be a crucial deciding factor going forward. Whichever station is quick enough to ride on that, will definitely benefit.”
Pandit is of the opinion that despite the fragmentation in the radio space, the stations will be able to hold on to their prices. According to him, in the long term, retail advertising will shoot up on radio.
In all the radio space is set to see more competition. Players need to revisit important aspects like content in time to break the clutter. Where at an individual station level, this would allow brands to build their identity, at the broader level, it would help the medium grow.