Festive cheer: Radio industry looks at double-digit growth

The growth is driven by interest from new category of advertisers such as e-commerce, OTT, BFSI, besides the regular FMCG, consumer durables and automobile players

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 8:31 AM

After passing through economic hurdles in the form of demonetisation and GST, 2018 has been a moderately better year for the radio broadcasting industry as most players have shown signs of a healthy growth. And the festive time, it seems, is only adding to this positive mood, with the industry looking at double-digit growth in the season, driven by renewed interest from advertisers beyond just FCT.

Cautious optimism

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO of South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network -Aegis Group, too expects better growth during festivals this year compared to last year. He, however, choses to define the mood as “cautiously optimistic”.

“This festive season, I am expecting a 10-12 per cent increase over last year for radio. Generally, the year is better compared to previous year as economic conditions look better,” he says.

Preeti Nihalani, National Revenue Head, Radio Mirchi, is also of the opinion that the festive season looks “moderately optimistic”, though she declines to put a number to it.

Nihalani says, “Radio should report reasonable growth in the festive quarter of October-December, with segments like FMCG, e-commerce and Media & Entertainment growing their spends. Also, political advertising will add to the growth with five states going in for elections in this quarter."

However Nihalani also cautions, “The rising dollar may act as a dampener to this growth. Increased cost pressure on companies may lead them to adjust their marketing spends. This may impact sectors like auto, handsets, consumer durables etc.”

Mirchi, meanwhile, is expanding and is on its way to complete a network of 76 stations in 63 cities. “This addition of new inventory will certainly add to the growth spurt. As a result, we are looking at a decent growth largely on the back of new station launches and political advertising. Other than that, this is an activation-heavy quarter for us and there are many new events we are doing this year which will give us good growth,” she says.

Red FM too is eyeing “very good double-digit growth month-on month between September and December 2018 to compensate a rather moderate year in H1,” shares Nisha Narayanan, COO & Director, RED FM

On the other hand, Big FM is seeing a 30 per cent growth in the business. Asheesh Chatterjee, CFO, Big FM, says, “October and November pipeline looks impressive. The network recently announced a 12-15 per cent hike in ad rates in core markets.

MY FM is anticipating “higher double-digit growth” as compared to last year’s festive period.

Advertisers, meanwhile, are trying to make the most of the festive spirit. For instance, online furniture brand Pepperfry has invested significantly more on radio for their Diwali campaign-- ‘Diwali toh sab ke liye.’ They have associated with top four-five channels each in six big cities.

Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO, Pepperfry, says they have valid reasons for it. “We have noticed more stickiness on radio among audience today as against earlier. We use it as a support for television.”  So the brand allocated 15-20 per cent of TV budgets (ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10-12 crore) on radio, he says.


Interest from new category of advertisers

Besides the regular FMCG and consumer durables categories, e-commerce, mobile wallets and OTT players also seem interested in putting their advertising moneys in radio this festive season.

Bhasin feels that some categories are using the medium more than others. “For example, radio is being used to promote lot of financial instruments such as mutual fund. Automobile players use it pretty regularly. Also, around festive season; between Ganpati and Christmas; local retailers get active,” he adds.

For Big FM, e-commerce and BFSI are playing an important role. “Categories such as FMCG, consumer durables and automobile are also not left behind,” informs Chatterjee.

Red FM too is seeing participation of all major brands, “especially the dotcoms and telecom handsets”. Narayanan adds, “In retail, one can see momentum picking from real estate, jewellery and lifestyle clients.”

Nihalani of Mirchi is seeing increasing participation from OTT players on radio. She explains, “Aggressive battle for viewership among players such as Zee5, Netflix and Hotstar is audible on all leading radio frequencies. Newly kindled competition among mobile wallet players has further fuelled advertising growth for radio across stations. All of them want to maintain high share of voice.”

Similarly, for My FM, automobile, lifestyle, consumer durables and real estate are the big categories. Rahul Namjoshi, Business Head, MY FM, adds, BFSI has now become a regular round-the-year advertiser with us.”

Going beyond FCT

Given the consumer’s stickiness to radio, advertisers are increasingly looking beyond FCT to reach out to its TG. For instance, Big FM has partnered with advertisers for deep integration, longer tenure and sponsorship sales to provide them a clutter-free experience. Chatterjee points out that such campaigns run for two-three months.

He says, “Bigger play is in deep content integration. Some of our key shows are getting sponsors. We have nine initiatives in this festive season. Each of those programming elements are getting integration. This is the start. We think content is going to play a big role.”

On the FCT front, the CFO shares that Big FM has opened up the weekend and non-prime time hours for smaller businesses to balance inventory “in an intelligent manner”.

Even Narayanan mentions that brands are looking at integration and native advertising. She offers, “We approached, and many came to us, asking for innovation beyond routine advertising. And at one point, we had to decide from many to go ahead for more than FCT.  We have executed Flipkart, Nerolac, Vodafone, HP, USL concerts during this festive period.”

Even Pepperfry did content integration with a channel who was doing a show on homes. “We partnered with them to give away prizes,” shares Vadapalli.

My FM works out a customised solution for each category. Namjoshi shares an example, “So, for eg, to boost the real estate business, we did a seven-day real estate conclave. This was purely an on-air property wherein experts across various domain such as RERA chief, urban development chief and various bank heads were on air with us to help clear doubts & queries of homebuyers.”

Radio Mirchi too has multiple properties under Mirchi Activations, one of their fast growing business verticals that offer opportunities for advertisers. Nilhani points out, “This festive season, we have many opportunities for the advertisers, starting from Rock and Dhol – the most premium Navratri dandiya nights of Ahmedabad and eight other cities of India; Green Marathon across 15 cities and Neon Runs – night fun run in 23 cities. Many brands such as SBI and Gaana have continued there associations on one or more of these properties.”

She adds, “We organised Bryan Adams - The Ultimate Tour to India. Next in line is Martin Garrix 2-city tour in December. We recently also launched Mirchi Play’s first Hindi web series, ‘Mauke Pe Chauka, Sehwag ke Saath’ on our YouTube channel. We have a very interesting pipeline in this space too.”

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