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Is radio good for the outdoors?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 07, 2002
For the billboard industry, is the coming of radio a blessing in disguise?


For the billboard industry, is the coming of radio a blessing in disguise?

Media planners have differing viewpoints on how the advent of radio will affect other media, including the outdoors.

One school of thought has it that radio will take a heavy toll on local advertising, and that one of its first victims would be the billboard dotting various cities. Already desolate, with just numbers painted on them, these are likely to look all the more forlorn. On the other hand, radio itself, going by the number of stations that have chosen this particular medium to get their message across, has, at least in the short run, given a fillip to outdoor advertising. Almost every new radio station, from STAR's Radio City, with its "Fun Ka Dose Har Roz" to Mid-Day's Go 92.5 FM, has adopted the medium to woo potential listeners in Mumbai.

Does this mean that both the mediums will happily grow on parallel paths?

Some analysts feel that the medium will take away with one hand what it so generously gives with the other. Given the relatively small size of the total ad pie - Rs 9,000 crore nationally - and its relatively slow growth, the question is: Where will the growth that radio is counting on come from?

The answer could lie in the ever-increasing mass of local advertising. In fact, the one segment that has witnessed incredible growth in recent times is the Rs 3,600-crore local advertising pie, which has been clipping along at 15 per cent to 20 per cent, compared to the growth of national advertising at 9 per cent currently. "Local advertisers, if they are faced with tight budgets, are likely to cut on the media that they think is least important. And that perception is created more by savvy marketing of a medium than any deep research," says a senior media planner.

The key question is: Will local advertisers decide to increase their ad budgets to include both radio and billboards, or will they axe one in favour of the other?

A comparison of the cost of the two media seems to indicate radio has a better chance. A five-city outdoor campaign, according to industry figures, could cost anything up to Rs 50 to 60 lakh. On the other hand, for Rs 10 lakh, an advertiser can get his message across several times over among an equally big audience base. But will that alone see migration from radio to the billboard? Opinions differ. "The two are very different. Billboards are visual, while radio is an audio medium. I think one would be sacrificed for the other only if the budget is really tight," says Samindra Das, head, media services, Carat India.

Other factors also play a role. Billboards, by their very nature, are a reminder medium, trying to convince the potential consumer to take that step, and go ahead and buy. "My genuine belief is that no new medium cuts into the older media. They both contribute to the growth of the market as a whole. However, over a longer time frame, the growth of radio advertising may affect other media such as the outdoor," says Prashant Pandey, chief operating officer, Radio Mirchi.

Indeed. If radio does grow in the way the optimists want it to - from the current 2 per cent to 8 per cent of the total advertising budget in a couple of years - it is unlikely that the heavily unorganised outdoor medium will be able to protect its turf for any major length of time. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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