Radio players ready to experiment, but will advertisers support it?

While there have been pockets of differentiation, a completely niche radio channel is not possible as b’casters need to even out the investment made in high license fees, say experts

e4m by Saloni Surti
Updated: May 29, 2013 1:51 AM
Radio players ready to experiment, but will advertisers support it?

Content differentiation and lack of a proper measurement system have been key areas of concern for the radio industry for a long time now. Industry experts, on the other hand, maintain that there is a lot more to radio than what appears on the surface.

Coming to radio’s defence, Prashant Panday, Director and CEO, ENIL asks, “Will you say that all newspapers are alike since all cover the same stories? If the answer is no, then you can’t accuse radio stations as well for being the same because they serve the same content.”

George Sebastian, COO, Club FM pointed out that radio is dependent on music-related show formats, besides this, lack of news and current affairs make the content look same when this is not the case.

While there have been pockets of differentiation here and there, a completely niche channel is not possible as the broadcasters need to even out the investment made in high license fees. According to Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM, radio broadcasters would love to experiment, but there is no idea on what kind of support they will receive from the advertisers.

FM radio in India is just 10 years old and is still considered a young medium. Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City explained that radio is a content distribution mechanism. Thus, if there are content differentiation issues due to distribution, broadcasters can look at different channels of distribution. Digital is one of the most powerful mediums and gives the opportunity to offer different genres that might not be possible on terrestrial stations.

However, digital also has its own issues, such as repayment of music royalty and challenge of monetisation; however, broadcasters need to be ready to tackle them as digital can be that additional distribution channel for radio, which is right now in a difficult spot.

Experts pointed out that on an average, radio owns 2-4 per cent share in a brand’s marketing pie. While a number of reasons have been attributed to this low percentage, critics cite lack of proper marketing of the medium as one of the main reasons.

On the other hand, Ashwin Padmanabhan, COO, Big FM remarked that radio is a continuous medium. Broadcasters launch a number of new shows and content, which are advertised well. According to him, the question is not how much the medium should be marketed, but what in the medium should or should not be marketed.

Radio broadcasters shared that the medium is still growing. With efforts on their part and support from advertisers as well as the government, it can become the medium in the country.

Prashant Panday, George Sebastian, Nisha Narayanan, Apurva Purohit and Ashwin Padmanabhan were sharing their views at the India Radio Forum 2013, held in Mumbai on May 28.

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