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