Industry Speak: Are advertisers using radio effectively?

Industry Speak: Are advertisers using radio effectively?

Author | Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy | Monday, Jun 25,2007 9:09 AM

Industry Speak: Are advertisers using radio effectively?

A single word could sum up the answer to this question -- “No”.

This is an obvious and expected answer from the radio players. They have been voicing the same sentiment for the past few years on various occasions. But, except for a handful of good radio ad spots once in a while, nothing much has changed in the medium since its inception. Using the audio track of TV advertisements still continues; complaints about media agencies not giving enough importance to the medium still exists; calls for using the medium as a brand builder still rages on.

In a bid to try and get the industry perspective on a common platform, spoke with the media owners to voice their opinions on a couple of questions surrounding the topic. The responses we received were strikingly similar.

While everyone called for a need to improve the quality of ads churned out for radio, they agreed that the quality is improving compared to earlier days. The need for advertisers to instill more faith upon the effectiveness and reach of the medium was another point of agreement from the media owners.

Tapas Sen, Executive VP and National Programming Director, Radio Mirchi, points out that the standards of Indian radio advertising are not too high as compared to other countries, and that we still have a long way to go. He firmly believes that creative guys need to understand the medium’s audience. “They should understand that the medium is different and needs a different kind of creative for effective execution,” remarked Sen.

Vishnu Athreya, VP-Programming and Brand, Radio One, has identified three set of radio advertisers -- New Age, traditional and retailers who are looking for footfalls. “While the New Age advertisers are still testing radio, they are the ones who usually use the audio tracks of TV spots on radio. The traditional advertisers like Marico and Levers know how to use the medium very well, as they have been advertising on radio since the AIR days. The retailers, from whom the national advertisers need to learn, may not have great creative ads, but they effectively use the medium for simple communication to create footfalls,” explained Athreya, adding that radio is not supposed to do a TV’s job. “If the media owner, advertiser and creative team get together, then we can crack a fantastic idea for the brand and improve the quality of advertisements on radio,” he said.

Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, observes that almost all the ads on radio are created by the radio station itself. “It would be good if the brands themselves did it. But people are still not clear whether to use this medium as a tool for reach or frequency builder.” He also believes that radio is an effective tool to build reach, integration, interactivity, salience and frequency. “Different messages for different times of the day can be easily achieved on radio, thereby even adding interactivity to the medium,” he added.

Rana Barua, National Head-Marketing, Radio City, believes there is conventional creativity in radio. “It is not cutting edge or experimental as the other media. But I feel advertisers have realised that the power and immediacy of the medium can make it a highly creative one. The medium’s power has to be realised. It can serve a lot of purposes like impact, awareness, trial and interactivity. We need to be more original and experimental in our thinking and use the medium well,” added Barua.

Meanwhile, Manav Dhanda, National Programming Head, BIG FM, believes that as radio is still in a nascent stage, a lot has to be invested -- both in terms of time and effort. “While we have seen works of brilliance, consistency in quality is the key, which is due to come as the category gains its importance and matures,” he elaborated. Explaining the areas of improvements for advertising on radio, he noted that clients and creative leaders are the key people who need to appreciate and take initiatives for the category. “High investment in training is of course required, so that we have creative minds who work for the industry. And finally, recognition through awards always work as a great motivation for better delivery,” he said.

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