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News |  18 Feb 2009 13:55 |  By RnMTeam

Absolute Radio to focus on digital distribution

MUMBAI: All forms of digital distribution, including online and Digital Audio Broadcasting are going to be key for Absolute Radio in the coming years, according to the station's programme and operations director Clive Dickens.

"Digital is key for us," Dickens declared at the session on 'Drawing From Experiences Around the World - Case Studies in Radio', saying that while Absolute Radio currently commands four per cent of the country's radio ad revenues, it holds 25 per cent of the nation's digital ad revenues. "That's the sector where the growth is," he pointed out, indicating the 14 billion euros that online ad spends are projected to command by 2013 in the UK.

Absolute Radio, that was born after TIML took over the SMG run Virgin Radio mid 2008, has been carving a unique trajectory of marketing and promotions for the last six months. To differentiate itself and to build upon the Virgin 'long term declining and UK mature music' brand, Dickens and his team went heavy on the online front. They created a blog that talked to staff about the changes that were being wrought, a blog that he says also appealed to other sectors like ad agencies and the station's core audiences.

On its way to create a successful online identity, the station needed to change nearly 57000 online 'Virgin' brand images, which it did by launching an innovative 'Spot the Virgin' game for readers. The re-branded station then solicited audience opinion through interactive sessions on content and the station's playlists. "The radio tricks of 36 years were wearing thin with different sources of music now easily available to the listener," Dickens pointed out.

While Virgin Radio was the pioneer in the UK in the 1990s to stream live on the Internet, Absolute aims to become the first to bring digital radio in cars in the country, an initiative it has already launched, according to Dickens. The station is also spenidng on online ads that change dynamically according to what's playing on the station at the time, thus creating trial and content sampling.

FCC media bureau chief Monica Desai also touched upon the policies that regulate the 14000 odd radio stations in the US, which include 6000 commercial FM stations, 5000 AM stations and 3000 non commercial FM stations. Arbitron studies indicate that 90 per cent of the country's population in the 12 plus age group tunes into radio every week, she said.

When moderator Radio Today COO Anil Srivatsa pointed out the absence of 'decency laws' regulating the FM sector in India, Desai noted that there is a 7000 USD fine per occurence of abusive language used on air between 6 am and 10 pm. However, since it is not possible to monitor all the stations on air, this is a complain based system which is acted upon by the regulatory bodies, she added.