| 19 Jul 2024
FM Round Up: North - The race to stand out among clutter

North India witnessed a spurt in radio stations in 2008 - not only in the NCR, but throughout the northern states.

The radio market showed signs of maturity with many advertisers willing to pump in their money in radio as a medium.

Says Radio Chaska (Gwalior) executive director Tarun Goyal, The year 2008 was good in terms of programming and advertising but the setback of the year were royalty issues and government not agreeing to the independent news....

Referring to their Delhi station, Fever Delhi Station head Neeraj Chaturvedi says, Early 2008, there was an ambiguity over the radio station occupying the No.2 position in Delhi but in the second half we clearly became the No. 2 station with a market share of 12 per cent and others occupying about nine per cent....

Chaska tied up with the BBC for its infotainment capsules, an initiative that helped the station in gaining visibility. BBC is carrying out a survey in India and it has shortlisted Gwalior, Delhi and Mumbai markets. That means the radio market in the north is looked upon as an important market today,... says Goyal.


There has been a drastic change in the advertising scenario of the northern region with advertisers designing their campaigning around small markets. In the first quarter, agree many radio players, they had to approach the advertisers and compromise on their rates but in the third quarter, the situation seems to have been reversed - the advertisers are now calling the radio operators to air their ads.

Elaborates Goyal, Radio is now treated as a prime advertising medium and new advertisers are approaching because of the activations we provide. Corporate constitutes of 55-58 per cent of our advertising pie and 40- 42 per cent of corporate ones....

Radio Tadka (Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur) CEO Alok Sharma echoes the thought, adding, In the past six months, our local market inventory has increased by 100 per cent. People have accepted radio as a medium, we do have repeat advertisers and FM is gaining extra mileage by brand for activations....

Radio city as a whole has seen an increase of 45 per cent in terms of number of advertisers and advertising volumes coming to us over last year mainly from its north and west markets.

Big players with presence across metros are banking more on national advertisers occupying about 70 per cent and 30 per cent of local retailers.

Permission to air political ads on radio earned the radio stations extra mileage too. As Goyal explains, The clearance of political ads came a day before the end of campaigning so, it didn't add on to our revenues. However we are looking forward to the next round of Lok Sabha elections which would be of advantage for radio operators....

Radio stations face the heat

An industry insider says, the inventories of many national big players had to face the heat due to recession. Many of the advertisers on board for stations in Delhi are the local real estate/ property developers who have pulled out their money and advertising in the capital is suffering because of the slowdown.

Owing to the recession, there has been a dip of 20- 25 per cent in the advertising revenues and Goyal believes the situation would be back to normalcy till the third quarter of next year.

Due to recession, there has been a dip in the real estate sector and advertising has started showing signs of shrinkage but we have maintained our revenues,... maintains Chaturvedi.

As radio is a relatively inexpensive medium, the investments in radio have increased for its cost effectiveness. The sectors most affected are automobile and real estate, and for our Delhi market, we weren't banking on both these sectors. For us, it was more of educational advertisements and that sector hasn't shrunk inspite of recession for obvious reasons. Also lifestyle and FMCG are doing well and we occupy about 15-17 per cent of the market share in Delhi. Real estate was never our area as our prices were high compared to other players in the market,... explains Chaturvedi.

Echoes Radio city EVP and national sales head Ashit Kukian, Real estate as a segment which is generally investment heavy in the north region was particularly affected and as a result, the percentage of real estate advertising on radio came down....

Players like Hit FM (a Clear Media venture) have seen only a marginal decrease in advertising revenues as their advertisers profile remains at five to six per cent of local and major chunk of national ones.

Clarifies Madison Media Plus COO Praveen Sharma, Although it's too early to suggest that recession has affected the advertising investments, it is seen that overall inventory usage across all mediums has reduced in the last month....

Marketing Initiatives

2008 also saw radio stations conducting marketing initiatives to stand out in the mass market. Fever launched its first television commercial this year which enabled to get the brand the desired attention. Fever National Marketing and Promotions Head Gawri Kapre says, Our biggest initiative this year was Fever off the record, where one weekend would be dedicated to independent music. We would scout for bands playing original music and they stood a chance to play with established bands....

Red FM's Red Mike initiative launched in Delhi was an innovative tool for interactivity. On the Red Mike, one could not only request his favourite music but also �Bajaao' any issue of one's choice on the radio station. Towards the end of the year, Red FM launched an on-air initiative called, �Catch Lucky Shopping Pakki', a contest spun around the movie Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye voiced by the film's lead Abhay Deol. This contest received more than 40,000 SMSes.

The year ahead

Radio stations in the north say they would be focusing more on establishing their brand in the coming year.

In the coming year, Red FM will be focusing on building consumer loyalty through various interactive and engaging properties and content, to ultimately move from being an interactive to an embedded brand in the minds of the audience,... says Red FM's national marketing head Anuj Singh.

We are self sufficient when it comes to local advertisers and would be concentrating more on corporate ads in 2009,... says Sharma.

2009 comes with a set of challenges which are going to force advertisers to be very prudent about their spends and increase usage on specific media vehicles which deliver high ROI and are focussed on delivering high value consumer segments,... predicts Kukian. He adds, Radio City with its SEC AB TG and large metro presence will benefit from this micro marketing and we will continue to build on this promise along with consolidating our BTL and digital presence....

It seems to be a great opportunity for radio players in the north to reiterate their cost effectiveness and exploit the chance of attracting more advertisers.