Media: Double Standards - Why radio is no longer the 'poor man's medium'

Two radio sales directors believe the industry must stop being so shy about radio's virtues and become better at demonstrating the ROI it can offer.

KAREN STACEY - RADIO SALES DIRECTOR, BAUER MEDIA

- Why is radio the poor man's medium?

It's not! Radio audiences are robust and our future is bright. Digital is enhancing this position and providing audiences with more places where they can listen to the radio. That's why more consumers are spending 24 per cent of their media day with radio. However, national advertisers are underinvesting in the medium. Clients such as COI, Autoglass and More Th>n realise the value it provides and invest accordingly. It's a fact that 90 per cent of the population tune in to radio every week. That's 45 million people - so if it's a poor man's medium, the Government has a bloody big job eliminating poverty.

- How do you plan to change that?

Is the wrong question to ask. Radio has real value in a media schedule. That is why we, as an industry through the Radio Advertising Bureau, have researched 60 per cent of all advertising to prove radio's effectiveness in the media mix, and we look forward to assisting the remaining 40 per cent. Advertisers want to be assured that their communication has worked and as an industry we are helping them to do this.

- How are you shaping your business to adapt to the current economic climate?

As we are in private hands with an owner who actively supports our strategy, we have clear views and direction. This gives us the ability to develop long-term partnerships with our customers. Our continued focus on delivering creative excellence and strong content will see us through these tough times.

- Is radio any better placed than other media to weather the storm?

Radio boasts consistent audience figures because it has always been a medium you listen to while doing something else - it will not be the medium you replace. This, coupled with our commitment to launching and developing new formats such as Q Radio and Heat Radio, puts us in the best possible position in these challenging times. Allowing consumers to listen to their favourite stations in more places and across new platforms provides listeners and advertisers with much more choice.

- What do you offer advertisers that other networks don't?

We do not believe in a "one size fits all". We deliver clear market leadership in 20 out of 25 markets and a portfolio of exciting brands - such as Kiss, Magic, Heat Radio and Q Radio - that can offer bespoke communications opportunities unlike any other radio owner. If you want to communicate with audiences in our areas creatively and efficiently, we deliver stations that are completely tuned in to the needs of listeners. In summary: mass audiences, in key markets, delivering key messages, at a local level.

- Briefly explain your strategy and how it will win loyal listeners.

Our understanding of audiences at a local level is why we lead the way in so many cities. In addition, it is our understanding of youth audiences that not only positions us perfectly to develop our existing content and programming, but allows us to create brand new radio brands that build on the strength of our famous magazine titles. We believe that this enables us to secure long-term stability and growth in our audience base.

- Are you a mod, a rocker or just MOR?

Right now, as a mum, I'm afraid my music repertoire doesn't extend much beyond The Wheels On The Bus.

JONATHAN GILLESPIE - GROUP COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, GMG RADIO GROUP

- Why is radio the poor man's medium?

Radio is the normal man's (or woman's) medium. It's the medium that 90 per cent of the UK population turn to every week for richly diverse content. So it's anything but poor, but perhaps that's a perception we as an industry need to work on.

- How do you plan to change that?

Ask any marketer and they will tell you that over time you need to add variety and extensions to your brands, to keep them fresh. The radio brand is no different - it needs clearly defined products that continually innovate, extend and sometimes surprise. The industry is working hard to re-engage client interest and it needs to de-commoditise the media offering, and stop being so shy about radio's virtues.Private ownership, easing of the regulatory burden and a track record for creative media solutions should go a long way to making that happen.

- How are you shaping your business to adapt to the current economic climate?

From a marketing perspective, we are rebranding our two Century stations as Real, so GMG Radio has three very clear, strong brands in the market (Smooth, Real and Rock Radio). From a sales perspective, it is about offering brand clarity, better value and flexibility, and increased creativity.

- Is radio any better placed than other media to weather the storm?

Radio is sprightly, flexible, cost-effective and intimate. It has always been effective, it just needs to give better proof of that effectiveness. In a world in which clients and advertisers demand more obvious ROI, radio provides some fantastic opportunities capable of delivering great results. We just need to become better at demonstrating these results, whether that be through better case studies, co-effectiveness with other media, or through understanding the neurological benefits.

- What do you offer advertisers that other networks don't?

We have clarity of brand and clarity of purpose - national brands locally delivered. You want a single FM brand that broadcasts to the UK's major conurbations, but has that strength of local relationships and loyalty - then Smooth and Real are the only radio brands that can deliver that.

- Briefly explain your strategy and how it will win loyal listeners.

We have two distinct main brands, Smooth and Real. They are very clearly positioned to listeners. Smooth is for those who see music as a reflection of their lifestyle, reminding them of their experiences through great songs and programmes. Real celebrates the vivacity and fun outlook of our listeners - it provides music to sing along to, and radio to put a smile on your face. Our Rock Radio brand is young but growing.

- Are you a mod, a rocker or just MOR?

I did own a pair of two tone shoes when I was 14, so not sure if I was a mod, but I never had the hair to be a rocker.

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