Cover Story

Demise of Ra­dio Down But Not Out Ra­dio – the Lost Medium

Slogan - - COVER STORY - By Sam­ina Wahid

Ra­dio in Pak­istan has come a long way since the first broad­cast went on air in 1947 via the public ra­dio broad­cast­ing net­work Ra­dio Pak­istan. With a wide range of news and en­ter­tain­ment ser­vices, Ra­dio Pak­istan’s mis­sion was to ed­u­cate and en­ter­tain peo­ple through mu­sic, fea­tures and plays while ed­u­cat­ing the masses.

Fast for­ward to 1994 and we have Pak­istan’s first FM chan­nel – FM100 – set up by Ra­dio Pak­istan that be­gan its reg­u­lar trans­mis­sion on March 23, 1995. To­day, there are more than 116 pri­vate ra­dio sta­tions in­clud­ing re­gional and FM chan­nels that pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and en­ter­tain­ment to not just the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion but to ru­ral seg­ments as well. Thus, ra­dio’s reach is higher than that of news­pa­pers (es­pe­cially since a large chunk of the pop­u­la­tion is il­lit­er­ate) or even tele­vi­sion.

Still, advertising spend on ra­dio re­mains low.

A quick com­par­a­tive anal­y­sis be­tween ra­dio, print and tele­vi­sion re­veals that TV en­joys the high­est advertising spend (around Rs21 bil­lion) fol­lowed by print (Rs7.7 bil­lion) and fi­nally ra­dio (Rs1.42 bil­lion, out of which FM 101 en­joys the big­gest share of advertising). While ra­dio is per­haps the most ac­ces­si­ble medium in Pak­istan, ad­ver­tis­ers are still re­luc­tant to use it for com­mu­ni­cat­ing their mes­sages. The fact is advertising on ra­dio is a very vi­able op­tion, one that de­mands bud­get and strat­egy. Ra­dio works as a sup­port medium as well as a launch­ing board mainly be­cause it is ev­ery­where and for ev­ery­one.

Ra­dio air­waves are ac­ces­si­ble to any­one with an in­ter­est and a de­vice which, by the way, is a lot more af­ford­able than get­ting a tele­vi­sion set or a com­puter (for dig­i­tal ac­cess of news and en­ter­tain­ment pro­grams) thanks to the wide­spread use of cell­phones with FM ra­dio op­tions. Most peo­ple to­day are tuned in to their ra­dio sets which is truly an advertiser’s dream come true – they have the un­di­vided at­ten­tion of an au­di­ence that is all ears. In fact, a study on the ef­fec­tive­ness of ra­dio in mar­ket­ing for busi­ness con­ducted by the Re­search Jour­nal of So­cial Science & Man­age­ment showed that re­ten­tion lev­els of ra­dio advertising are higher, es­pe­cially in the case of fe­male FM lis­ten­ers. This has strong im­pli­ca­tions for com­pa­nies that cater to the fe­male pop­u­la­tion in some way. The study also found that a good 15 per cent of the re­spon­dents made a pur­chase on the ba­sis of a ra­dio ad or jin­gle which, in ad­speak, is an im­pres­sive fig­ure, and says vol­umes about the ef­fec­tive­ness of ra­dio as a tool for mar­ket­ing.

FM ra­dio is a pow­er­ful medium as it is rel­a­tively low-cost to set up and easy to op­er­ate. The busi­ness propo­si­tion of plac­ing lo­calised ad­ver­tise­ments in lo­cal sta­tions can be an at­trac­tive op­tion for ad­ver­tis­ers as it gives them com­mu­ni­ca­tion ef­fi­ciency. The con­cept

of lo­cal FM net­works has been partly lever­aged and needs to be stim­u­lated in the more ex­cit­ing di­rec­tion of com­mu­nity ra­dio through which ad­ver­tis­ers can tar­get very spe­cific au­di­ences.

Ra­dio has the power to cap­ture lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ers with a lo­cal mar­ket fo­cus and can do the same for multi­na­tion­als as well. As a medium, it can of­fer con­sumer in­sights like no other medium, es­pe­cially since the cost is low but the re­turn on in­vest­ment is high. Given that ad re­call for ra­dio is high as are the pur­chases made on the ba­sis of ra­dio com­mer­cials, ad­ver­tis­ers must re­visit their bud­gets and strat­egy to­wards ra­dio advertising. It is the medium that evokes smells, sen­sa­tions and vis­ual im­ages, thus bring­ing the lis­tener’s imag­i­na­tion into play and, there­fore, can be ef­fec­tively used for brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion and po­si­tion­ing. Ra­dio is cer­tainly not a ‘lost’ medium and ad­ver­tis­ers are miss­ing a great op­por­tu­nity by not us­ing it to the full.

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