| 05 Dec 2023
Can India try the nano-ad Blinks formula, which has been successfully tried in the US? Or will we have to wait for homegrown inn

Can India try the nano-ad Blinks formula, which has been successfully tried in the US? Or will we have to wait for homegrown innovations to radio advertising?

Take away the odd award at Cannes, and the bulk of advertising on radio in India continues to remain remarkably unremarkable.

Despite the industry crying itself hoarse about the lack of innovation and experimentation, there`s little that corporates, ad agencies and radio stations are doing about it.

So, despite knowing fully well that the fickle listener switches channels as soon as he hears the rehash of a TVC or an Amitabh/Gabbar impersonation going on air, radio ads continue to bore.

Strategies like playing clips of songs to follow after the break or to leave a conversation incomplete to keep listeners glued have worked. But the clutter of ads through the programming and the very length of the ads, continue to be the bugbear of all FM stations currently.

Stations in the US seem to have found a way out of the impasse. ?‹?“Blinks ?“ one or two second radio spots have been successfully aired by Clear Channel with many more American radio stations following the trend in the last one year.

Clear Channel Creative Services Group, the brain behind Blinks, has crafted demonstration spots for McDonald`s and BMW`s Mini Cooper (the spot features a honking horn with a man`s voice saying "Mini", which was placed before short news briefs). The message shoots home, with the minimum of fuss. Can the strategy work here?

Blinks on air in the US1The Simpsons ?“?‹?“Doh! ?“tonight on Fox (2 seconds)2Prison break, tonight on Fox (2 seconds)3Im hearing peoples thoughts, (whispers heroes on NBC) (5 Seconds)4Im lovin it (the McDonalds tagline) (1 second)

Agrees Radio One assistant brand manager Gulrayz Punjabi, Blinks is more about brand awareness building stuff. It is also largely dependent on the advertisers objective.

The biggest challenge in the Blinks concept is the ability to convey the information of the product in a mere two seconds. Says award winning copywriter Mihir Dhairyawan, Such blinks can be successful in a country like India as well. For example, if a show is sponsored by Dabur, they can have their two-second spots in between two songs, in between other advertisements on radio and also, wherever pauses pop up, which is a quite a common thing with radios all over. After establishing a base for itself in India and with the audience, such blinks can also run independently later, making the whole idea of listening to FM as well as the advertisement interesting.

`Here, FM is taken as a side entertainment. Hence, these two-second blinks will go unnoticed, and will be consumed by the background` Radio Mirchi COO Prashant Panday

These nano-ads would not cost much either. For example, just the tagline of McDonald`s - ?‹?“Im lovin it can itself be a blink. So can the Britannia musical jingle ?‹?“Tin tink tee dink.

But, warn analysts, these micro ads could end up costing more in an erratic radio industry instead of being an affordable proposition. While it is true that by their ultra brief nature, Blinks won`t bore anyone, nor make any demands on your time, they would be best suited to products, whose taglines and personalities are already reinforced in listeners` minds via other media.

Says copywriter Stuti Sakhalkar, With the advent of Blinks, the stations can grant more airtime to the RJs and music which is often eaten up by the advertisements. But, radio stations cant afford to play more than eight to 10 blinks in an hour or else

Radio Mirchi COO Prashant Panday has an altogether different take on Blinks, however. The whole idea of Blinks is conceptually flawed. In the US, it may have a chance and good scope, but in a country like India, I dont think it can work out well. In countries like the US, the listeners are more attentive; driving there is more mechanic and so is working. So people can connect and understand the ?‹?“blinks when they are aired. Here, FM is taken as a side entertainment. Hence, these two-second blinks will definitely go unnoticed, and will just be consumed by the background. Even if the shows are sponsored by some brand, it doesnt make much sense because sponsorship in India is like an incremental reminder. Its only the advertisements that are counted as radio spots. Also, for radio spots audio works better.

`Radio stations cant afford to play more than eight to 10 blinks in an hour or else the whole essence will get diluted` Stuti Sakhalkar, copywriter

Panday could have a point. Research done by David Allan, a St Josephs University marketing professor, shows that Blinks are best remembered by listeners who have already heard 60 and 30 second ads for the same product or service.

Agress Radio City`s national sales head Ashit Kukian, "We have realised over the years that every client wants his brand to be felt, touched, sampled and seen to deliver immediate results. The Blinks proposition is of a creative nature. It requires resolution at the conceptual stage. Given the psychographics, if such a format can be devised, researched and proven to deliver effective outcomes in the Indian market, I am certain that we would be uniquely positioned to adapt the same in our portfolio of innovative offerings to advertisers."

Currently, the most common form of paying for radio spots is based on secondage purchased by them. For any customised offering, depending on the efficiency of the innovation, clients would have to pay a premium on the existing rate, believe many sales heads. Also, many radio ads are currently created by the station itself for the advertising brands. If innovation has to come and survive, it needs to come from within the industry itself.