Mumbai: This year, the 15th edition of the India Radio Forum was presented in a new virtual format. Re-invent 2020 – The Power of Audio had the best minds in the radio and audible industry converging together from all over to share their experiences on the radio industry as it now stands in India and of the future of audible entertainment.
The power-packed day began with a welcome address by Abe Thomas – Conference Chair of the India Radio Forum and CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network followed by the keynote session ‘Restoring the Soul of Radio’. Hosted by Sonal Kalra – Managing Editor (Lifestyle) of Hindustan Times. Joining her was Anurradha Prasad – President of AROI; Nisha Narayanan – Director & COO RED FM & MAGIC FM; Abe Thomas – CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network and Ashit Kukian – CEO Radio City as they deliberated on resurrecting the soul of Radio in 2020. Key take-out of this session was that in spite of the digital revolution; listenership of Radio will grow. However, radio stations will have to look at more non-traditional revenue models with innovation, collaboration and partnerships. FM Stations need to collaborate more often like they did during the pandemic to create awareness while continuing to be a great influencer with a wider audience and most importantly to form a common unified mechanism for measurement is the need of the hour for restoring the soul of Radio.
With the agenda being set and defined that radio needs to co-exist with Digital, led to the second session on Digital Audio. Led by Abe Thomas, CEO BIG FM who was joined by Lloyd Mathias, Business strategist, Sreeraman Thiagarajan – CEO aawaz.com, Vipul Bathwal VP – Monetization Products at Gaana and Rita Sahajpaul – National Head of Product and Marketing Science, Xaxis India. The conversation was centred around what brands and buyers of digital audio expect; how publishers see their content monetized and, on the potential, and limits of digital advertising. The outcome of this session was that Digital Audio is on a rise and will continue growing. It is personalised, the content is compelling and from a brand perspective not a challenge from both an audience and measurement perspective.
Numbers, audiences, measurement – our third session was all about Audiences Empowering Audio. Led by LV Krishnan of TAM Media Research the panellists included Kartik Sharma: CEO, Omnicom Group, India; Hemant Mehta: Managing Director & Chief Strategy Officer, Kantar, South Asia; Manoj Dawane: Founder & CEO, VTION Media Analytics, Delhi; Sunil Kumaran: Country Head, Thwink BIG, RBNL and Benjamin Masse: Managing Director, Market Development & Strategy – Triton Digital. From this session it is very evident that the industry needs to come together and build and eco-system to get a better understanding of audiences and eventually a common currency is needed to convince advertisers on reach and where to best place their marketing dollars.
As digital audio keeps increasing, Podcasts are becoming more and more popular and as India looks to reaching 100 million podcasts listeners by end 2020, we had to focus on the growing popularity of Podcasts. Our last session was all about ‘The World of Podcasts’. Led by Pavan R Chawla – Vice President – Digital Services, Adfactors PR this panel had Amit Doshi – Founder, IVM Podcasts; Amit Sethiya – Chief Marketing Officer, Syska Group and Anand Kumar Bajaj – MD & CEO, PayNearby as they enlightened audiences on marketing of podcasts; from creation to publishing to deploying and promoting across most applications to provide one of the most rewarding modes of marketing and strategic communication and profiling, to marketers. While podcasts are very creative and have great content and storytelling; they are not still not measurable as they are too niche hence large brands which are more mass stay away from putting their money behind podcasts. However, with close to 100 million podcast listeners and growing the future is bright and just a matter of time with better measurement and a deeper understanding of the listeners that bigger brands start putting their money behind Podcasts.
Speaking about the event, Rajika Mittra, Country Head and Strategic Partnerships for the India Radio Forum said, “Since, we started the India Radio Forum 14 years back, this was the first time that we explored the virtual format. We were absolutely delighted to have a convergence of the best names in the Radio and Audio business all of whom thrive in the space. As shifting habits present challenges and opportunities – the roadmap of audio looks extremely promising and the future is about multi-platform partnerships and collaborations. We look forward to building a bigger community and work towards taking audible entertainment to the next level’.