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IRF 2008: ‘For clients, radio is still a step cousin, or worse, a poor step cousin’

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IRF 2008: ‘For clients, radio is still a step cousin, or worse, a poor step cousin’

The post-lunch sessions at the India Radio Forum 2008 held on May 30 saw panellists discussing a range of issues, including finding revenue on radio and what advertisers really want.

The session on ‘Finding Revenue on Radio’ was moderated by independent media consultant and writer Vanita Kohli Khandekar, while the panellists included Ashit Kukian, EVP and National Head-Sales, Radio City; Dnyanada Chaudhari, Head-Media Services, HUL; Pallavi Burman, National Sales Head, Fever FM; and Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media.

While speaking on improving yields, Pallavi Burman said, “We need to look beyond space. You can’t keep going to the same set of clients. We also need to understand the brands, understand their advertising needs and whether to go for a cross media solution.”

According to Dnyanada Chaudhari, “360 degree has become a buzz word, activation another favourite. We need to look at what are advertisers grappling with and their problems, and if radio can solve them.”

Ashit Kukian asked, “What is the value you are bringing to the people? Is it what the advertisers are looking for? We try to understand what our customers need and we are closely working with retail advertisers. It is far better with local advertisers as the margins are low. A lot of advertisers are looking at interaction of brands with consumers, and radio is doing well in this aspect.”

Punitha Arumugam remarked, “Radio stations need to figure out how to deal with costs per 10 seconds. Unfortunately, the industry is working against itself. There are a whole lot of issues that need to be tackled internally before going external.”

What are advertisers shying away from the radio industry?

FM stations are trying hard to woo advertisers, and while they criticise the advertising community for not being interested in radio, advertisers, on the other hand, say it is the FM industry that has not been able to explain the benefits of radio advertising completely.

In the second post-lunch session, panellists discussed about what advertisers really wanted. The session was moderated by Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal India, and the panel members included NP Satyamuthy, Joint President, Lintas Media Group; Amritendu Roy, Business Head, Friends FM; Praveen Malhotra, VP Sales and Head of North Operations, Big FM; and Sandeep Lakhina, Managing Director, India - West and South, Star Com.

According to Shashi Sinha, advertisers were interested in investing in the radio industry. “The fact remains that a lot of national advertisers see radio as part of the basket,” he maintained.

Praveen Malhotra said, “FM radio’s reach in India is neck and neck with television, yet advertisers shy away from radio. Radio also helps reach the local audience better that any other medium. Advertisers should see what radio can do for them.”

There was a general agreement among the radio fraternity that there was need to change the mindset of both advertisers and clients in order to attract the advertisers.

In a different take, NP Sathyamurthy asked the radio industry to look from the advertisers’ point of view. “What are the radio marketers doing to strengthen the medium?” he asked.

Sandeep Lakhina remarked, “At the end of the day, everything is about money. Look at the US, where radio is being used very successfully and where it is truly local. India needs to recognise that a certain medium is meant for certain things.”

Amritendu Roy asserted, “We are an important medium and even advertisers must believe the fact that radio is an important medium and is able to deliver the best.” He added, “For clients, radio is still a step cousin, or worse, a poor step cousin. There is need to change the mindset of clients.”

Chiding the advertisers, Roy said, “Sometimes you have to go into the market taking some risks. Why should it be only the radio industry who must take risks? Advertisements are not new to us, there have been radio brands earlier, too. Don’t expect us to be on-ground event managers.” Making an emotional appeal, he asked the advertisers to give radio a chance and see the benefits.

Sinha summed up the session saying both advertisers and radio players should take a step forward and take risks.


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