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Radio needs to become more strategic, say experts

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Radio needs to become more strategic, say experts

Radio is one of the oldest mass communication mediums in the country, yet it has played second fiddle to television and is now increasingly being overtaken by digital media. Mostly used as a reminder medium, the industry has not been using radio to its fullest potential.

Yet there have been some exceptional work done by various brands using radio. While speaking on the mindset of advertisers, Prashant Pandey, CEO, ENIL - Radio Mirchi said that clients have started using radio as they should, which is, creatively. “Apart from digital, this is the only medium where creative guys can really go wild,” he said. Agreeing with him, Abhijit Awasthi, National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather said that radio provides the biggest and widest canvas for creative agencies to work on.

However, Anisha Motwani, Director & CMO, Max Life Insurance was of the opinion that radio stations understand the creative potential of radio much better, pointing out to the increasingly common trend of radio stations doing creatives for brands. She added, “When we work with creative agencies, we usually just get a ‘radio spot’. The radio stations understand how to mesh the entire campaign or promotion within the medium.” Awasthi pointed out here that there is need for more dialogue between radio stations and creative agencies.

According to Gautam Kiyawat, CEO, Madison Media Group at Madison Communication, the fundamental problem is that people think too much on the lines of TV. “We are so focussed on the TV that we use that as a yardstick even for radio. We are basically making orange juice from apples,” he said. When asked about a media planner’s perspective, Amin Lakhani, Mindshare Fulcrum, Leader, Team Unilever South Asia agreed that TV is usually the obvious choice because of its reach and since it becomes cheaper (for obtaining that kind of reach). For him, the key potential of radio lies in localisation and engagement. “From a media standpoint, these are differentiators, if you think this way, it can seep into your strategy,” he added.

Motwani, speaking from an advertiser’s perspective, had a complaint. She felt that radio is more tactical and needs to become more strategic. She cited the example of digital, where call to actions could be done on the go. Katiyal also agreed that the two worlds – digital and radio – are intertwining. He gave the example of Big FM Bangalore’s WhatsApp group, which he claims now has more than a thousand participants.

As far as ratings for the radio medium is concerned, the experts raised the point that the lack of a common metric is hurting the radio industry. Comparisons were inevitably raised between radio and digital. Pandey said, “There is overemphasis on ratings and we have failed to create a relevant metric which focuses on engagement.” Lakhani, however, was critical about measurement on radio. “One of the problems with radio is that there is no single source of data. Digital has overtaken radio because it is the most accountable medium,” he said.

Speaking about her expectations from the radio sector, Motwani emphasised on the need for measurability and accountability, while Kiyawat wanted more evangelism. “When we started out in advertising and I was working for Tide, I remember thinking, ‘Let’s do something on radio that causes listeners to visualise whiteness’. There are not enough case studies being pushed out to clients,” he said. On the other hand, Awasthi wanted creative agencies and clients to be more open to experiment as well as readiness from clients to put in money for production. In his words, “This is a tough medium and it requires a special type of talent, which needs to be respected.”


Lakhani, Abhijit Awasthi, Anisha Motwani, Prashant Pandey, and Gautam Kiyawat were sharing their views during a panel discussion on ‘How Radio Can Become A Strong Option To TV & Digital’ that preceded exchange4media’s Golden Mikes 2014 awards, held in Mumbai on January 31. The panel discussion was chaired by Tarun Katiyal, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network.

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