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Advertisers tune into FM radio

Nithya Subramanian

NEW DELHI, Sept. 8

IT'S cheap and effective. The opening up of the airwaves to private operators has led to new advertisers such as newspapers and periodicals, financial companies and even companies on recruitment drive using the medium.

So, now one hears Star News inviting applications for its news channel, Hindi newspapers Dainik Jagran and Hindustan trying to drive up its circulation numbers and IDBI Principal and Standard Chartered attempting to lure the small investor through the good old radio. Besides, hotels organising weekend festivals and public service campaigns are also active on this medium.

"Radio has emerged as an alternate medium as it offers more value for money. The rates are much lower than traditional media like print or television,'' said Mr Nischint Chawla, head of Radio Today. Hence, besides the fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs), consumer durables and automobiles, categories which are not active on television or print, are present on radio.

A 10-second spot on radio could be as low as Rs 1,000. "With bulk bookings, the rates could fall further," said a media planner.

Internationally financial products and services are among the top 10 advertisers, but in India these segments are still very small. Mr Sanjay Garg, Client Services Director, Enterprise Nexus, said: "Companies like ABN Amro, Standard Chartered Bank are trying to woo the small investor for their credit cards and other schemes. Radio enables them to reach out to the common man.''

Radio is also a good medium when the time period for various schemes or promotions are short. "The IDBI Principal Mutual Fund's new Index fund is open only for a short period. And therefore, it is more effective to advertise on radio,'' said the media planner.

In the case of vernacular dailies, radio enables them to reach out directly to the target audience. "The coverage of FM radio is very small. Hindi newspapers could, hence, benefit by advertising on FM channels in the North," said the planner.

The potential for the sector seems to be high, say analysts. According to a Morgan Stanley report on the media sector, advertising spend on radio is estimated to be Rs 198 crore for the financial year 2002. Of the total advertising pie, the share of radio is currently 2.5 per cent. The ad spend has grown by 14.1 per cent compounded annual rate over the past decade.

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