Perception, top of the mind recall, listerners’ initiative, knee jerk decisions and programming manoeuvres – all these have evolved as the various tools at the hands of the Chennai FM players to fight the challenges imposed by the absence of a common audience measurement system. Taking a closer look at how the city is fairing as the only metro without RAM, has thrown some light on the surviving tips of these stations vis-à-vis their brand building initiatives and monetising processes.
Talking about the listenership measurement methods used by the FM stations, PB Ramaswamy, Cluster Director, Big FM, Tamil Nadu, said, “We do research every quarter on listenership. Top of mind recall and all other parameters required are used through a research agency and we use this data for Chennai.”
Speaking of the methods, Rajeev Nambiar, CEO, Hello FM, said, “Currently, we are working with a research agency. It is our belief that those listeners who take the initiative to interact with a station and its RJs also sample the whole spectrum and hence, a better critic to gauge show popularity and the complete nuance of the medium.”
According to an experienced media planner from Chennai, “Most of the FM stations are caught up in their brand building stage and a lot of their focus goes into creating an USP for the station. Ideating more and more differentiating content in terms of the RJ quotient or programme format is what has kept most of the stations busy, and this, in turn, help them build their own identities before the advertisers.”
Ashok Sankethi, CEO, Kaybase, a Chennai-based market research company, said, “The method we use for our client is very random, with emphasis on the previous day recall. Since we provide a monthly report, it gives the station the advantage of more continuous tracking. We use similar methods for our clients in Kerala. And often the radio station clients happen to be our independent clients and that makes it easier for the advertisers to depend on our reports.”
Commenting on the challenges faced by the FM stations, Ramaswamy said, “When we have a measurement system, it becomes easier to go to an advertiser and justify our position. In Chennai, it is really a challenge because almost all the radio stations will have to initiate their own research to study the market.”
According to Nambiar, “In the absence of measurement, every decision maker in the advertising fraternity are preview to various facts and figures. Hence, one needs to facilitate sampling, and it is the measure of response that makes final judgment of the station to drive further communication. Also, the factor that plays in is the popularity by hearsay and the station what your kith and kin hear on their radio sets. What they consume is what they buy, from the perspective of a local advertiser.”
The stations are thus trying to sell mostly on the USPs and the results earned by their pan-India counterparts in other markets. But what has left the industry players complaining is the fact that process oriented approach to brand building is not resorted to. Rate wars, freebies, value packs are all that rule to fill ad breaks. Just as RAM is highly welcomed among the FM players in Chennai, it is also felt by some that RAM should look at a more friendly costing for its services.