Radio's potential remains underutilised: Experts

Potential for advertisers is huge as creatives on radio can be tailor-made for brands; however, the biggest drawback is that radio lacks mktg, say experts

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Updated: May 29, 2013 7:50 PM
Radio's potential remains underutilised: Experts

Despite the obvious advantages that radio offers, marketers have not been able to leverage the full potential of radio as an advertising medium. It’s not that industry experts are not aware of the engagement potential of radio, yet the medium remains underutilised.

Jasmin Sohrabji, CEO, SEA & India, Omnicom Media Group is a strong proponent of the medium and says that radio’s strength is the absence of any visual elements; and this helps form a ‘unique communication’ as the brand message plays in the ‘theatre of mind’, thus making radio advertisements very powerful. She, however, rues the fact that very few marketers capitalise on this aspect as radio scores high on the engagement and activation front. The other concern with the medium is the confusion that prevails in all the stakeholders’ minds as to who comprises the radio audience, is it the housewives, the youth or people who listen to radio on their commute to work?

For Manisha Lath Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Axis Bank, the beauty of the radio medium is that it is the only familiar medium that is growing and can play a big role in local activations. While the choice of medium depends on what the brand objectives are, Gupta says that while television and print would be the medium of choice for a brand looking to reposition itself, for BFSI, radio is the medium of choice when the brands task is to push products and increase footfalls. Gupta adds that while Radio Jockeys can also be used effectively to integrate brands in their conversation, marketers struggle to identify content which the brand can be associated with.

Mayank Shah, Group Project Head, Parle Products believes that its only when marketers fully exploit the potential of sound will radio advertising deliver the desired result as marketers who do not think in terms of sound will not get it right.  Shah adds that the need of the hour is for the radio industry to go out and market itself better. The potential for advertisers is huge as the creatives on radio channels can be tailor made for brands and this can effectively capture the essence of a brand.

This point is also echoed by Ajit Varghese, Managing Director – South Asia, Maxus who says that while the inherent strength of radio is obvious, the biggest drawback is that radio lacks marketing. Varghese adds that radio is the perfect medium to create a buzz about a brand in a local context as radio can gauge the pulse of a city, it is not seen to be a sexy mediums, as CEOs and brand managers main focus remains on TV commercials and not on a radio script. Varghese states that it is an ‘enigma’ why marketers don’t use radio effectively as ‘Power of Idea’ can be exploited in this medium and it is cost effective.

Omnicon Media Group’s Sohrabji says a big concern is that unlike television radio has not seen any technology advancement and that while marketers are open to the medium, media planners have to look beyond numbers and balance their spends as radio offers a great opportunity to engage the end consumer. Looking ahead, Axis Bank’s Gupta believes that if radio has to become the lead generator, content would have to play a big role as not only should there be more differentiated content, it should also effectively engage listeners. A small indicator about the future potential of radio can be the fact that Maxus has created a separate vertical for branded content in radio. Varghese also believes that radio can help a marketer fill up any gap in reach and that radio is a boon for small advertisers. Finally, Parle Products’ Shah summed up by saying, “ If you want to be noticed and need to do things differently, in radio you are in a clutter free environment.”

Jasmin Sohrabji, Manisha Lath Gupta, Mayank Shah and Ajit Varghese were speaking during a panel discussion at the India Radio Forum 2013. The panel was moderated by Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network. The India Radio Forum 2013 was held in Mumbai on May 28.

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