Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Andrews on Media: Sending the Right Signals

Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Andrews on Media: Sending the Right Signals

Article excerpt

Radio listening is up but the medium must rebuild its image in order to hold onto its advertisers.

Recent Rajar figures revealed that a record 46.3m adults - 90.3% of over-15s in the UK - listened to radio at least once a week in the second quarter of this year.

However, these positive figures did not address the one serious issue that threatens its future - a decline in radio advertising.

With TV advertising currently being available at 80s rates, the forecast for UK radio advertising is bleak. Media buyer ZenithOptimedia forecasts that the radio industry will be worst hit of all advertising platforms, even in the event of an economic recovery in 2010. It has forecast a fall of at least 15% in 2009 and 9% in 2010. For television, it predicts a fall in 2010 of just 2%.

On a global scale, too, others are deserting the radio advertising space. After three years of struggling to make an impact in the radio ad business, Google is to exit its Google radio broadcasting arm, the system that enabled stations and advertisers to automate the process of buying and selling airtime. Google said it would concentrate on video and online streaming of audio instead.

Unless steps are taken to entice advertisers away from cheap TV options - and internet advertising continues to thrive - commercial radio will struggle. To survive, it must rebuild its image and show advertisers that it is a cheaper, more worthwhile option.

Since Bauer's acquisition of Emap and Global Radio's purchase of GCap, the independently owned commercial radio sector has fallen off the radar. Even Rajar's audience figures have lost the high media profile they once had.

However, there are positive signs for radio advertising, as long as firms make the most of regulatory opportunities and policymakers work quickly.

The government's commitment to a national switchover from analogue to DAB radio in 2015, as part of its 'Digital Britain' report in June, may go some way toward rebuilding commercial radio's image in the minds of advertisers. The chance to broaden DAB's reach - with a recommendation that all new car radios be digital by the end of 2013 - will help; car manufacturers could hold the key to DAB's future mass market appeal.

Furthermore, new proposals by communications regulator Ofcom could win back advertisers, if marketed in the correct fashion.

One proposal is to allow radio companies to reduce their costs by sharing programming and office space between local stations, in return for an agreement to make the services available to DAB listeners. …

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