In the new normal world, the Digital landscape has enveloped audiences across socio-economic categories. One of the largest sectors fulfilling the needs of consumers has been the Entertainment segment. The power of connected devices has enabled more audiences to bridge with their preferred content across a variety of platforms providing Audio & Video in traditional as well as in digital.
Post-Covid-19 growth in radio advertising, credibility and listenership in various segments, AROI shares the incredible growth in radio consumption by Golden Age segment (45 years) in 4 metros and the consequent phenomenal increase in advertisements targeted at this Decision Maker segment.
It may be noted that research by AZ Research PPL in April 2020 for top 6 metros had indicated that 82 percent of population (22 percent increase) had tuned in to FM Radio post covid -19 with a significant increase in listening time ( 23 percent increase) . The research also positioned FM Radio as the most credible media amongst Print, TV and Radio. TAM. RAM data suggests that the growth in listenership 9 reach, TSL) is likely to be much more.
Based on this data we spoke to the Leaders in the Radio Industry and what have been their strategy and insights to keep their consumers entertained and also on how to garner more advertisers to have a re look at this medium….
Rahul Namjoshi, COO, MYFM, Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City, Harshad Jain, CEO – Radio and Entertainment, HT Media Ltd and Next Mediaworks Ltd. and Sunil Kumaran, Country Head – Product, Marketing & THWINK BIG, BIG FM.
In this pandemic one saw a surge in TV viewing, digital how has Radio grown in terms of listenership? What has been your strategy to compete with the non-radio players?
Rahul: A similar surge happened in Radio listenership as well. In fact, recent studies also highlight the fact that radio’s consumption went up and became one of the most preferred medium of entertainment during lockdown, 2nd only to TV. Its reach has always been at par with digital and TV.
Ashit: Radio listenership too has seen a significant amount of surge. As per the latest AZ Research PPL report, 82% of people tuned in to the radio during COVID-19, and the industry witnessed a listenership of 51 million people, an increase from the 48 million listeners before March 2020. The time spent by people listening to radio has also increased by 23% to 2.36 hours every day during the lockdown, second only to television. Radio has been one of the most accessed mediums since its inception due to its ease of accessibility and being an essential service for providing information and entertainment to the citizens. These numbers act as proof points that most of our audience have continued to stand by us and will continue to do so in all markets whether big or small.
We strongly believe that we are an audience delivery platform, and our focus is to keep our listeners entertained, informed, and always engaged. For our advertisers, our strategy has been to create the most innovative and engaging content and campaigns and that would work best for them. This approach I believe has helped us stay ahead of our non-radio peers.
Harshad: Radio has always been a constant companion to everyone, both in good and tough times. However during Pandemic radio saw a major uptick in listenership. According to the latest research by AZ Research PPL across a sample size of 3300 people among 18+ UA populations, 82% of people have been tuning in to the medium during COVID-19, with FM channels emerging as the second most credible source of information for the masses. As per the research, radio has a credibility score of 6.27, second only to the internet which is at 6.44 and TV at 5.74.
The time spent listening to radio has also shown a significant increase during the lockdown, according to a study done in top six metros of the country. The time that people spent listening to radio has increased by 23% to 2.36 hours every day during the lockdown, second only to television, says the study commissioned by Association of Radio Operators for India.
This goes on to show that the medium really stood up well amongst all the crisis to churn out fresh entertaining yet credible content. The ability of radio to be hyper-local is its biggest strength against the non-radio mediums.
Sunil: Being the perfect companion for listeners across the length and breadth of the country over the past few months, radio has witnessed an immense growth in listenership since the onset of lockdown. It has been reimagined in the minds of the listeners owing to it being a credible source of information and entertainment. A study conducted by AROI had revealed that 82% of the Indian audience tuned into radio during the lockdown and the average daily time spent listening increased by 23%. The recent RAM data also revealed a spike in listenership across segments, with reach and time spent by men and women, Sec A, teens and golden agers witnessing a significant growth.
In order to expand our footprint and reach out to a wider set of listeners via immersive touch points, at BIG FM, we have collaborated with leading audio streaming platforms like Spotify and aawaz.com amongst others that now see some of Big FM’s most-loved shows and marquee properties available to a global audience. The partnership with Spotify enables their users to access more than 15,000 minutes of BIG FM’s content spread across 13 marquee shows and 1,240 episodes.
Realizing that the synergy of radio and digital will play a telling role in the future of radio, we also forayed in the space of web radio with the launch of BRO – BIG Radio Online. BRO serves as the perfect platform for the young adults who seek content that is entertaining as well as motivating.
Through our initiative Big Partnerships, we have explored synergies with different platforms to offer an amplified reach with our advertisers and our content. We have signed up 20+ partnerships where clients can get a potential audience reach of 15 crores. These include audio streaming apps, digital platforms, OTT platforms, TV and we are in active discussions with multiple partners.
How has Radio as a platform been performing all through the lockdown from the business and listenership perspective? Can you share any numbers?
Rahul: Radio is a brand-building, high-ROI medium. Advertisers realize this fact and have shown constant interest in utilizing radio’s strength. We have started witnessing an upward trend in our inventory-consumption as well.
Ashit: As mentioned above, Radio’s listenership not only grew during the lockdown but the time spent by people listening to radio also increased. Some brands across select sectors have utilized the power of radio to maximize their reach. For example, healthcare brands, real estate, pharmaceutical brands, etc. have been sharing their ads on our platform, helping us generate revenue.
As per the current numbers, we have recovered close to 80% to pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of volumes and 60% to pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of revenue. Being a local medium and staying true to its relevance it has been possible for us to quickly get back to normal especially in smaller markets. Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities are already ahead of the recovery process with around 80-85% operating at pre-COVID-19 volumes. Seeing this recovery, brands are now looking to reach out to consumers in these regions and radio has become one of the key mediums for them to create brand awareness in these cities.
Harshad: It goes without saying that the last financial year has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. The radio industry in particular witnessed a year of softness owing to the pandemic and the overall macroeconomic uncertainties and liquidity crisis.
As the country is opening up, we are slowly seeing an increase in spends by the advertisers as they get back to normalcy and resume their businesses. The recent RAM & TAM Adex data (for 29 Dec 2019 to 21 March 2020 VS 22 March 20 to 9 May 2020) clearly indicates a tremendous increase in Women Listenership and Women-related brand advertising along with a high growth in Men engagement and Men-oriented advertising. The report for AROI also goes on to show the growth in radio consumption by the Youth across metros. This is a great opportunity for new age brands to leverage radio’s strength and further increase their advertising share.
While we still have some ground to cover, I am sure that these milestones will go a long way in our growth journey in the coming future.
Sunil: There has been a surge in listenership since the onset of lockdown, and the recently-released RAM data is testament to the phenomenal growth across segments that the medium has witnessed. This has led to a subsequent growth in advertising targeted towards each segment with various categories such as retail auto, cosmetics, financial services, restaurant, food products, E-com media amongst many others, as per the TAM Adex data.
From the business perspective, we did witness a steep decline in ad spends by advertisers, including the government, during the initial months of lockdown. However, we are already in a phase of recovery. The medium has already recovered by a resounding 70% in the last quarter with consistent growth in ad volumes since June’20. The TAM Adex data further reveals that ad volumes on radio spiked by 434% during Jun-Aug ’20 in the 4 metros as compared to the previous quarter. In other cities, the rise stands at more than 5 times with 100 categories advertised exclusively during this period.
How has Radio innovated in providing ground-breaking and quirky brand solutions to brands and advertisers during this lockdown?
Rahul: From launching new shows on radio to organizing digital events through Video-Conferencing, we have focused heavily on a 360-degree solution. We had strong digital-media handles already and we have leveraged this strength to shift a lot of on-ground events to digital-platforms, keeping in mind our advertisers’ interests.
Ashit: In our industry content is of utmost importance, especially in these times where people have been at home and are looking for mediums to keep themselves engaged. It is important that we keep creating more original content, keeping the new demand in mind to seamlessly engage our audience. Understanding this, we devised some innovative and ingenious digital campaigns across all our social media platforms to unite and entertain digizens during the lockdown. We have also been carrying out several campaigns digitally in tandem with our on-air communication on radio, which has helped us generate a stupendous 280% growth of our social media reach numbers.
To highlight some of our digital campaigns, we did 128 Instagram Live videos during the lockdown with famous personalities like Dia Mirza, Kapil Dev, Shruti Hasan, Rana Daggubati, and many more, which garnered more than 6 lakh views. Our radio & digital IP, Viral City, launched in September ’19, which had RJ Archana and RJ Salil interview renowned content creators received 1.5 Million views in the month of April 2020. Radio City, in association with Think Music, Divo, Aditya Music & D Beats, conducted Facebook Lives for our popular IP ‘Concert From Home’ in the Southern cities of Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore with participation from some of the biggest names in the South music industry. Radio City also partnered with Virtual Planet to entertain the audience in Rajasthan. Both these activities saw 2 Million live viewers and witnessed a total reach of 3.5 Million. Through all these digital campaigns, we have brought the perfect concoction of entertainment, socially relevant content, and curated initiatives, providing an exciting digital experience for our listeners across the country.
We are also leveraging our RJ influencers and their reach to drive on-air solutions to our advertisers. Providing an integrated approach of radio plus digital offerings to our clients is helping us plug in the gap and stay relevant in these testing times. To give you an example, we launched a campaign with Mother Dairy called #RishtonKiImmunity, which aimed at celebrating the beautiful strong bond with mother and her child. As a part of Radio City’s Digital and On-Air campaign, all RJs came together and shared their childhood golden moments, where they hesitated to drink Haldi milk and the various tricks their moms used to pull out on them to convince. This campaign was an instant success among our listeners, especially in Delhi.
Additionally, for businesses like ours, it is essential to identify new delivery platforms to leverage content. For example, we recently signed a 3-year licensed deal with Spotify to share more than 1400 episodes featuring 16 of our audio IPs. Our premium and award-winning audio IPs will target not only Spotify users in India, but also the diaspora that is on the audio streaming platform across the world.
We launched Radio City Bazaar an initiative to provide much needed support and impetus to homegrown businesses and ensure we are all vocal for local and turn the spotlight onto industrious homegrown businesses to give them a credible platform to build awareness about their business propositions. With this, Radio City aims to provide necessary help to enable the growth of local businesses to propagate the spirit of entrepreneurship. We have 500 + advertisers on board.
Harshad: I strongly believe that innovation, brand integration and providing out of the box solutions to the client’s need is going to be of top most priority, both on our radio and digital assets.
In order to power ourselves to achieve the next level of growth, we are looking at alternate monetization avenues to augment Fixed Commercial Time (FCT).
One of the primary focus areas for us has been to adopt a digital first & platform agnostic approach. To ensure that our strong foothold in the digital world becomes impenetrable and starts contributing significantly to our growth drivers, we are moving ahead with razor sharp focus by leveraging and monetizing the extensive opportunities created by Digital Properties. The past few months saw a strong line up of such digital first campaigns from our network – 100 Hours, 100 Stars, Bounce Back Bharat, Digital Icon etc.
Sunil: With the aim to provide thought-provoking campaigns to listeners and advertisers, we went aggressively to provide the support required. Taking one step ahead, our business along with the creative teams pro-actively engaged with the brands in order to deliver better content.
Our platform Buyadsonbigfm.com aided in enhancing our business and helped forge long-lasting alliances with our purpose-driven partners. Being one of the essential offerings, Buyadsonbigfm.com is a one-stop destination for the long tail of advertisers to create solutions, packages, buy spots, and make payments. It is our endeavor to help advertisers connect with us directly such that we can offer tailor-made and optimized solutions to them.
Embracing technology has been the need of the hour and we at BIG FM have conducted many digital concerts through our property Big Café Online where our listeners can enjoy concerts of their favourite artists from comforts of their home. Our recent digital concert – ‘Dil se Duniya Concert’ with Shreya Ghoshal where we tied up with Facebook received an amazing response.
We recently did a show ‘BaatGhar Ki’ hosted by Ravi Kishan with UltraTech Cement where essential queries and FAQs pertaining to house building were addressed by engineers. The episodes were later turned into podcasts for aawaz.com and are very well received by the listeners.
We have also collaborated with the Rajasthan Royals team, where we have exclusively created a podcast series called ‘The Royals of Cricket’ in a storytelling format with each episode dedicated to a team member, encapsulating their fun interviews along with special anecdotes. The entire series will be amplified across 10 audio streaming platforms including Spotify, aawaz.com, Hubhopper, Listen Notes, etc.
The festive season has been highly anticipated all year. What are your expectations from the festive season this year? What are the new activations for this festive season?
Rahul: We witnessed peaking inventories around festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Independence-day and Janmashtami. The Navratri season has also been overwhelmingly positive. The biggest reason for this has been the constant demand from the retail-sector. In fact, our retail-business-volume is back at the pre-covid-era level.
Ashit: With the festive season around, we anticipate brands to come back and associate with us for their advertisement requirements in large numbers. This year too, we expect the radio volumes level to be close to what it was last year.
With respect to activations, we would be focusing on doing Diwali led spikes. We will be engaging with retail brands and put together certain on-air dealer led initiatives to increase footfalls in the physical stores of these brands. We are also excited to announce that this festive season, we will be kick starting the 12th season of our marque property Radio City Super Singers. All in all, we are hoping that the festive season will bring in a lot of positivity.
Harshad: We are very excited to be stepping foot into festive season with a plethora of interesting content and partnership opportunities.
Our campaign ‘Dil-Se Festive’ urges the listeners to find joy in every moment, revel in the festivities and amp up their celebrations with Fever FM, Radio One and Radio Nasha. The campaign has multiple exciting initiatives lined up for the festive season.
Sunil: The festive season has always witnessed a tremendous growth in business as about 40-45% of annual business occurs during this period. Marketers are leveraging the power of radio to reach out to their target audience owing to the phenomenal reach that radio as a medium offers. As per the TAM Adex Report, there has been a rise of 24% in Ad Volumes in week 33 with consistent growth in Ad volume from Aug’20 where average ad volume surged by 4.8 times as compared to April.
For Navratri, we did 9 days of religious festivities across North and Central markets with on ground visits and online musical concerts by celebrated artists. Festivals are all about celebrations and spreading positivity so we are doing a fun family game for Diwali called BIG Family Jackpot through which listeners and their families can be part of games and contest from the comforts of their homes. We have various campaigns and activations lined up for the coming weeks, announcements about which will be made in due course.