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Radio making some headway for marketers

With newer channels emerging, radio players are looking at giving integrated packages to brands for a seamless marketing experience. But radio’s effectiveness is difficult to measure due to lack of a proper measurement system

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | June 29, 2016


One of the first forms of mass communication, Radio, has struggled a lot to have come this far. From being a key platform for information and entertainment to being used by reporters to keep track of cricket scores back in the late 70s to being used as an active marketing tool in today’s world, it has seen a drastic change in the last four decades and will continue to evolve. The game has changed a great deal ever since private FM radio players in the hundreds came into the radio play.

As more radio channels emerge in various cities, the medium continues to grow. But India has a long way to go for the medium to develop as a strong advertising and marketing platform. One advantage of the medium is localisation of content which is otherwise expensive in other mediums. In the age of social media where one composes tweets in 140 characters or makes six-second Vines, radio doesn’t seem so limiting.

In order to understand the medium’s role in marketing, spoke to industry players and experts.

Abraham Thomas Abraham Thomas

Sharing his views on the evolution of the medium, Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City 91.1 FM, thinks that the medium has evolved faster over the last decade. He feels that while long back radio used to be in the background, it has now become an active medium.

Rajat Uppal Rajat Uppal

On the other hand, Rajat Uppal, General Manager, Red FM, feels that while marketers used it as a frequency medium, today it serves a different purpose.

Today, brands like Opium Eyewear, Juno’s Pizza and a lot of real estate companies among other categories use radio as a medium to advertise. A lot of local restaurants also use radio to promote their offers and other local happenings.

While radio might not be a primary medium of consumption, it is largely accessible. Every smartphone or feature phone has an in-built radio. Cars also have it as a mean of entertainment and that’s what makes the medium ubiquitous. That is not the case with any other mediums.

Manoj Lalwani, Network Chief Marketing Officer, Reliance Broadcast Network, too agrees with Uppal and Thomas. He said, “Radio as a platform due to its large reach is considered as the preferred destination across brands.”

Madhukar Pandey, an industry expert, feels that it is now that marketers have realised what radio can do and has penetrated to regional markets.

While radio’s effectiveness is difficult to measure due to lack of a proper measurement system, advertisers are still attracted towards the medium. Players might claim that the listenership numbers are increasing, but the fact remains that the medium still lacks a proper measurement system.

In spite of that, radio players are managing to attract brands. The question is how? Today, radio players are looking at giving an integrated package and reach for a brand and that’s how they’re making bucks.

Lipton and Philips are two well-known brands that advertise on Radio City. While the Lipton campaign is on air now, Philips was one of the best campaigns back in 2007. Radio ads have moved from being selling oriented to giving information while using the power of radio and how audio can be used better.

Having spent time in the industry, Pandey feels that radio is one of the cheapest mediums to reach out to the masses.

Citing an example on how radio players are making the platform more effective, Uppal said, “Radio is becoming innovative. For instance, brands are changing their names for campaigns. Blue FM was a campaign done by Pepsi a couple of years back with us. In fact, lately, we conceptualised Vodafone’s ‘Hakke Bakke’ campaign with Ogilvy and gave Vodafone an integrated marketing plan around the thought. Hence, today radio players are looking at giving integrated packages to clients.”

While everyone is in the rat race of providing differentiated content, the consumer has music streaming platforms like and Saavn to provide music on the go and that’s where radio seems to have taken a hit in listenership. The fact remains that music streaming struggles with bandwidths while radio with measurement. Therefore, making radio more preferred over music streaming.

Pandey points out another reason for the above context. About 35 minutes of an-hour long programme is spent on commercials while listeners tune-in to radio for music and not the RJ.

For Lalwani, radio’s strength lies in being an audio platform. More than the visual campaigns, it is the voice that has an impact on creating a long-lasting effect on the audience’s minds.

All said and done, Uppal, Lalwani and Pandey feel that the industry needs to come together to plug the gaps. The medium lacks measurement and that is something that needs to be addressed. Brands will continue to include radio as a part of their communication as it has the widest reach across the nation.

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