Has radio recovered since the death of COI?

Double-digit growth from many sectors has compensated for the absence of COI revenue, according to two radio experts.

Mike Gordon from Global Radio
Mike Gordon from Global Radio


- Has radio completely filled the dreaded 'COI gap', or is there more to be done?

Losing COI has been a stepping stone, rather than a stumbling block. Of course, it was a challenge to replace around 8 per cent of industry revenue, but our sales teams have been more proactive than ever in developing strategic relationships with advertisers. Radio's brand count is up almost 10 per cent for brands spending more than £250,000, and more than 14 of our top 20 advertisers grew spend year on year. Our industry measurement tools - Radio Gauge and Radio 123 - have been vital in locking in big spenders.

- How did radio weather the economic storm and what are the medium's key strengths?

The fundamentals for the sector are strong. Radio has a huge reach of 34 million listeners a week, it's accessed on multiple platforms and has a proven ability to cheer people up in a recession. The Radio Advertising Bureau's Emotional Multiplier research showed that radio generated the highest happiness and energy levels of the media measured - TV, online and radio.

As for Global, we have transformed our business from a fragmented local medium to a national platform for advertisers. We've created the Heart network, launched the UK's first national commercial hit music network, Capital FM, and Classic FM has just celebrated its 20th birthday. We now compete as never before with national newspapers.

- Has the death of COI actually had any good impact on radio in the long run?

Yes, because we are no longer reliant on any single advertiser. Radio has increased investment from key categories, with motoring spend up 17 per cent year on year, finance up 19 per cent and retail up 15 per cent. Radio has increased revenue for the third consecutive year and grown its share of display advertising.

- How have advertisers been using the medium differently during the past 12 months?

Radio is now the glue that holds together an advertiser's campaign idea. This may comprise content creation, social media, retail and other platforms. The growth of cross-platform partnerships is a key trend. Radio has a head start here, given its heritage in artist relations, listener interaction, events and - just as importantly - account management.

- Is radio doing enough to promote itself?

Yes. The industry has funded award-winning research into the emotional role of radio and how it works with other, arguably more fashionable, media such as online. Our challenge is to crack the creative barrier, and we've plenty happening there. From RAB's new partnership with D&AD to the Campaign Big Awards, Private Hear and Global's ongoing work with creative agencies, there's plenty to be proud of.


- Has radio completely filled the dreaded 'COI gap', or is there more to be done?

When official figures are published, they will show growth in revenue and share of display advertising for radio across 2011. Although COI's decrease was substantial, radio advertising saw double-digit growth from other advertisers. This is down to record audiences, technical innovation, a re-energised sales approach, well-defined radio brands and healthy competition. Radio has shown how it can generate revenue via its unique connection with audiences. This can be evidenced through competition texting mechanics, outdoor events or listener clubs, such as dating, which have grown exponentially over 2011. TouchPoints shows radio accounting for 26 per cent of people's media consumption. But with a 6 per cent share of display revenues, the sector is still underinvested in.

- How did radio weather the economic storm and what are the medium's key strengths?

Radio's strengths are constant, with 91 per cent of the UK population listening to radio every week. 2011 saw record audiences (in both reach and hours). Radio can be consumed alongside other media and the Radio Advertising Bureau's Emotional Multiplier study shows it has the greatest power to influence our emotions.

I anticipate a "post-internet" world in which agencies recognise the massive impact delivered by linear broadcast media. A single spot on commercial radio's breakfast shows at 8am delivers an audience of seven million adults. This remains the best way to make your brand famous, and I can see a greater sense of proportion creeping back into media planning.

- Has the death of COI actually had any good impact on radio in the long run?

Any business benefits from a broad and diverse client portfolio, and that has become true of radio in 2011 - 14 of our top 20 advertisers and 15 of our top 20 categories have grown year on year. This shows a commitment to the sector and is a pattern we would not have seen in previous years. COI has been a great a champion of radio planning and creativity. We continue to work with all government departments to ensure this heritage is built upon.

- How have advertisers been using the medium differently during the past 12 months?

Advertisers think about us differently and the two largest groups have simplified their sales propositions. Global has simplified its network approach, but allows regional targeting; Bauer remains really connected locally, but has simplified buying across our overall portfolios. The two combined offer easy access to fantastic national coverage. Advertisers now use radio strategically rather than tactically. This, coupled with regulation changes, has allowed advertisers to take creativity to a new level. Clever use of presenters in activity, such as the Sainsbury's Christmas campaign, demonstrates a national message taken to a local level in a fun and engaging way.

- Is radio doing enough to promote itself?

Continued marketing spend reflects our commitment to growing audiences. The RAB has developed a marketing plan that sums up consumers' enduring love for the medium: Britain Loves Radio. It has underpinned this with award-winning research. We remain committed to improving creative standards. The RAB's Private Hear feature in Campaign showcased powerful work and challenged agencies to produce the work our thriving medium deserves. This is the year in which we want to see a dramatic improvement in the quality of ads and, hopefully, some award wins from UK creative agencies.


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