Television killed the radio star. Or did it really? Even with innumerable channels, planners predict a rapid increase in ad spends towards radio and swear by the effectiveness of the medium. As per industry estimates, radio accounts for barely 1 per cent of the Rs. 8,600 crore ad pie in India. While in countries like Sri Lanka, the percentage is as much as 20 per cent. In the complete absence of timely and credible research, and the license fee issue hanging in balance, coupled with the closed mindset of the advertisers, it’s not surprising that radio is not getting its rightful due. But the New Year could be the first step towards changing things, assert media planners.
PRP Nayyar, Executive Vice President, Media Direction, RK Swamy BBDO states, “2003 has been an eventful year for radio, with categories like telecom, financial products, automobiles, small time retail, consumer durables applying a lot more broad minded approach and increasing their spends visibly. I believe that radio has done extremely well as a frequency medium delivering flexibility, attractive pricing, high impact, local reach, immediate response and huge visibility. While it’s a support system for small time advertisers who are city specific, it’s a perfect add on for mass market national advertisers like Pepsi, Coke, HLL and so on. Themes, schemes, new launches, events, contests – radio is the perfect launch pad. I believe that the trend is likely to continue in 2004, perhaps with a lot more momentum this time around.”
He adds, “But the FM players need to ensure that the pricing and the packages offered remain attractive, especially since mass market music channels are also offering packages that are easy on the pocket. The existence of timely and credible research, like the existence of TAM for television would greatly foster the growth process. Often there’s one study, which states that Mirchi is at the number one spot, while there is another, which states that Radio City is at the numero uno position. Most planners dismiss these claims of who’s numero uno. We streamline revenues after gauging the kind of audience that a particular slot would provide, the overall perception of the station, and the assortment of music provided.”
Sandeep Tarkas, President, MPG believes that the growth rate for radio stations would live up to its full potential only after the license fee issue is resolved. He asserts, “The growth rate for radio is increasing steadily, but is it really justifying its optimum limit? As long as the license fee persists, in all likelihood, the FM players would not be able to thrust themselves as aggressively. In India, all the players together account for only 1 per cent of the total ad pie, while in the western countries, the share remains around 5 per cent. In a country like Sri Lanka wherein radio is at an evolved stage, the share goes up to 20 per cent. Players in India need to expand in as many areas as possible, offer good packages accompanied by well thought out creative solutions, and increase their listenership base. The radio commercials and jingles heard today have evolved considerably over time, which signifies the importance of the medium.”
Tarkas adds, “Radio overall should be seeing a growth rate of around 20 per cent this year with more of telecom entities, retail outlets, channels, financial institutions and durables subscribing to it.”
Amit Ray, Executive Vice President, Optimum Media Solutions believes that the days ahead would see radio emerging as a significant player in localized news. He says, “There are certain restrictions on FM players serving news, but localized city specific events and occurrences would still be its forte and an area wherein it can expand considerably. For clients that seek local promotions, a launch pad of new products, publicity of local events and frequency coupled with contests, radio is the perfect answer. While for the national advertisers, radio is all about schematic advertising, for local players, the medium ensures a lot of thematic advertising.”
He adds, “I would predict a wholesome 2004 for the medium with steady spends coming from telecom, financial entities, durables and retail. From the side of the FM players, they need to ensure that they provide adequate package deals, attractive pricing, discounts and effective content.”
It is obvious that FM as a medium is registering steady growth in revenue and listenership. And it is likely to see a lot more in 2004. As Ray puts it, “Radio as an entity is here to stay. The medium is exciting and the potential is immense.”