The ninth annual India Radio Forum was hosted in New Delhi recently. The forum saw discussions on the current state of the radio industry in India, besides creative roadblocks and the ways to tackle them.
Setting the tone, B Surendar, COO, Suriyan FM, said, “Two years ago, there were genuine concerns about the (radio) industry. There were questions of it competing with other media effectively when it comes to the mindspace of consumer, and if radio will benefit.”
He noted that the last two years had been reassuring as advertisers turned to radio in the slowdown, and radio managed double digit growth. “The onslaught of digital and mobile has complemented the growth of radio even more, even under the trying circumstances of government policies,” he said.
Surendar asserted that radio was finding regular place in media plans. “Retail remains the biggest advertiser on radio. The major concern is stagnation of the media pie – it is about four per cent currently that radio gets. Hopefully, before the end of the year, changes in government policy will help promote radio even more,” he added.
Ashwin Padmanabhan, business head, Big FM, underlined that the future of the medium would depend steps stakeholders take today. “The medium has various issues such as overall policy issue, where whole of the industry needs to work together; measurement; evangelisation as an industry to showcase the medium and its success; and all of these issues need to be taken care of right now,” he said.
Rohit Upadhayay of IBroad 7 Communication presented a case study of BJP’s radio campaign. The campaign used over four lakh spots and became the biggest campaign in the history of radio, according to him. He said, “While radio usually gets 1 to 3 per cent of the total ad budget, BJP used 12 to 15 per cent of their ad budget towards radio.”
Upadhyay mentioned that radio is still used as a reminder medium in ‘media plans of larger agencies’.
Power of radio in media mix
A panel comprising Satyajit Sen, former CEO of Zenith Optimedia; Ashit Kukian, president and COO, Radio City; Ashwin Padmanabhan; B Surendar; Monica Nair Patnaik, founder-promoter, Radio Chokolate; and Prashant Pandey, MD and CEO, ENIL, discussed radio’s place in media mix today.
Sen questioned the panel, saying that radio has not found enough ideas. He asked the panel to ponder over why it fails to trigger the advertising community.
Pandey responded that radio has positioned itself as a medium that can give a brand a very customised personality. He said, “In the last two to three years, radio grew faster than television in a slowdown. The way forward is to move from data and numbers and go into creative services with a solutions approach. Radio grew by 14 per cent last year, with retail advertising contributing close to 60 to 70 per cent of ad revenues.”
Kukian of Radio City asserted that radio and its players have to get out of the paradigm that it is a 4 to 5 per cent medium. “The larger challenge is investment in the medium. The contextualisation of brands is what is increasing the pie for us,” he said.
Pandey highlighted that while the recent BJP campaign made headlines in terms of spends, the Gujarat elections in 2012 showed the power of radio even more, when the ad spends towards radio touched 15 per cent or even more.
While Surendar was of the view that radio as a medium should not be compared to television, the panel agreed that branded content appeals more to advertisers. The panel also agreed that they needed a development tool that does not use listenership but focuses on engagement score.
Hertz’s secrets of creative ads on radio
Tony Hertz, proprietor and creative director, Tony Hertz: Radio & Brand Sound, spoke about tools to help create better radio ads. He began his presentation with the fact that out of 18,628 above-the-line entries sent to Cannes 2013, only 8.3 per cent belonged to radio, and from India, the percentage stood at 3.4 (of the 675 entries).
Highlighting that radio ads have not kept pace with TV, print, outdoor and digital ads, he reasoned: “Marketing communication is visual; creatives are not taught skills of the radio; lack of belief that creatives can do best work in radio; and there is a gap that exists between how people listen to radio and how advertisers perceive radio is being heard.”
Stating that radio had the inherent capacity to engage emotions, and power to evoke personal visual images, Hertz presented ‘Seven secrets to create engaging radio advertisements’. The first point was to ‘find the feeling’ which leads to good business. Secondly, most radio ads sit in audio-comfort zone, he said: “It is important that instead of writing what you hear, write what you see.”
He further added that creative people should think about the person, as people do not care about product features but about their own lives. He urged them to focus on ‘one ad, one message’ rather than highlighting address, advantages, and other details in a single spot. His fifth point was for radio ads to stand ‘in a different place’, reasoning that the difference between parity products can only be creativity.
Hertz told the radio players to do away with voice overs in their radio ads, and focus more on characters. And lastly, he told the gathering: ‘produce the advertisements with passion’.
Radio as a medium for storytelling
A panel comprising Anand Chakravarthy, head- west, Maxus; Ayan Chaudhari, brand manager, Dabur India; Habeeb Nizammudin, chief growth officer, Lodestar UM; and Tarannum Alam, VP- Madison discussed how radio is emerging as a medium for storytelling.
Chaudhari spoke about how radio helped him drive sales of Dabur’s product Hajmola in UP, when sales were not coming up despite various measures. The brand then, with Maxus and Big FM, engaged in a task to find the next big comedy talent in the State. The sales saw an increase, and radio helped them create initial connect with the consumers. With the example of Airtel’s ‘Har friend zaroori hai’ friendship band campaign on radio, Alam of Madison said, “If you have the right content, you will connect.” The campaign was also endorsed on Facebook, and it saw a ripple effect where 13 million people connected with the activity within two weeks, he pointed out.
Nizammudin of Lodestar spoke about a Valentine’s Day activity by Skore condoms. The advertiser, though not a big spender, managed to get across to its TG of young audience through the radio campaign, he claimed.
Chakravarthy spoke of the free mobile radio-on-demand service ‘Kan Khajura Tesan’, which operates in Bihar. The service has had advertisers excited since they can get to media-dark audiences and create more value for brands and generate RoI, he noted. Chaudhari voiced the view that if an FM station has the connect and content, they do not have to worry about ‘shareability’.
The event ended with the Excellence in Radio Awards ceremony, where Gold were handed out in 44 different categories.