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Radio Advertising: A niche in the market or a market in the niche?

07-June-2002
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Radio Advertising: A niche in the market or a market in the niche?

As the initial euphoria settles in, media planners are busy conducting listnership dipsticks and sellers are evangelizing the medium more than their spots and stations.

It goes without saying, that the ultimate goal for every player remains advertising money. But the broadcasters have to fight on two fronts; one to make radio a large enough medium for advertisers to look at seriously, and two to fight amongst each other for the little money that is coming across. A sluggish advertising market hasn''t helped matters either. But its too early yet and the biggies with deep pockets certainly aren''t perturbed.

"Advertising will develop as market share increases,” says optimistic Sumantro Datta, COO, Radio City. Its parent company Star, of course, has an already established brand in Television, which is being used extensively to promote the radio property. But, according to Datta the priority now is to expand the market for radio. "Its too early to talk about market share. Right now increasing market size is the priority and the Star Group''s vast world wide experience in running media organizations certainly provides that extra edge."

While the medium is attracting attention, in the absence of a third party listnership data, how are planners allocating monies? Rationales Amit Ray, Executive VP, Mudra," We normally do buying based on the environment, the type of people listening to that program and the circumstances they are listening in. There is no quantitative data available to assess the channels, hence we have to rely on qualitative data. We try to see the novelty value, type of environment offered by the channel and whether that gels with the product, which is to be advertised. On the whole it is our experience, which helps us to evaluate the programs and the channels."

Sandip Tarkas, Media manager, Mindshare says, " We get some broad estimates of radio listener ship from NRS data, based on which we try to evaluate various channels. We have our own in house model to evaluate the channels, in addition to which we are also doing a research on radio. Till now, this evaluation is totally subjective, but hopefully soon we will have some quantitative data to back our decisions."

But the need for a third party data is being felt badly. Both planners and sellers acknowledge the need of such data.

In the absence of this data, how are spots being hawked? Says Rajesh Tahil, Station Director, Go 92.5, "Our first objective is to sell ideas rather than selling spots. By selling the idea I mean, firstly, making the client understand the use of radio and how to use it, secondly, selling the profile of our listener, and lastly, selling innovative ideas. Given the flexibility of both the medium and our organization, we are basically a radio solution provider and not merely sellers of spots." Sanjay Hemady, Head of sales, WIN 94.6 says, " Our core competence is delivering clients and agencies, quality, backed by some brilliant innovative ideas.”

Some media analysts believe that bundling Radio with other group offering can facilitate larger buy-in. Datta though feels the time is not right. He says, "Right now there will be no benefit by combining radio with television selling. We first need to build radio as a category and once it becomes strong enough on a stand alone basis we can leverage the strengths of both TV and radio together."

To put this in the right perspective, not all clients are enthused about the state of affairs. A senior media buyer at Zenith Media opined, " We are shooting in the dark. The buying is done simply based on gut feel. AIR FM charges Rs.800 per 10sec and that serves as a benchmark. Private FM players have a card rate of Rs.1500 but they''''ll bring down their rates significantly. All this is done on the basis of little data and appreciation."

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