AudaCity keeps its ear to the ground

With the phase three radio auctions behind them, radio companies now have a wider net to cast when it comes to listeners across the country as well as create a lasting business for themselves. With that aim, Radio City, the newly acquired asset by Jagran Prakashan, has decided to spread its wings. It is setting up a separate agency for creating advertisements and promotions for brands, tailor-made for the FM medium.

Radio is the fastest growing segment within traditional media, growing at 17.6 per cent in 2015 according to a study by FMCG and KPMG. The report said, "This growth exceeded our earlier estimate and catapulted the industry size in 2014 to Rs 17.2 billion." A word of caution: These numbers were largely on account of massive spending by political parties for the 2014 general election. But the power of radio is increasingly being acknowledged by companies too, as many find this to be an efficient and affordable vehicle to get to mass market consumers, across the country.

For Radio City, an agency exclusively for creative solutions for radio seemed to be a natural fit. Given its understanding of the business, its knowledge about listener profiles and regional sensibilities, the agency is best placed to advise brands, it believes. Besides, Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City (91.1 FM) says as a radio station it can also ensure that ethical boundaries are not crossed in any such communication by making full disclosure of sponsorships and weaving brands in seamlessly, but never by keeping the listener in the dark.

The agency has been named to capture the branding used by the broadcast station (Radio City) as well as define the character of brand which the company says is typified by the term audacious. Thomas says, "AudaCity aspires to set a new benchmark in audio creative solutions. As the name suggests, we at Radio City have put together the brightest and the most audacious creative minds who shall offer innovative solutions."

Today, brands find that there is a gap when it comes to advertising for radio. Although established advertising firms help their clients with communication solutions for radio, it is usually an add-on feature to the television-cum-print media services they provide. And sometimes these ads do not cater to the listener profiles that the radio stations reach out to. AudaCity wants to be a one-stop shop for all radio communication. Apart from providing companies with a platform to showcase their brands, it also aims to help them develop their promotional and advertising strategies for radio and execute these solutions too.

The creative solutions unit will work in tandem with the company's on-air programming division. Thomas explains that being an audio medium, integration of the brand into the content on-air needs to be done with sophistication so that the sanctity of the station's content and the brand's visibility, rather audibility, are in balance. For instance, in-programme branding (for instance a radio jockey telling the audience to go to a particular spa or consume a brand of chips) is common across radio stations today. However not every programme is upfront about sponsorship details or brand engagements. AudaCity can guide brands to conduct themselves with transparency and thereby build trust with the listener-consumer. "Radio City is known for its creative innovations. It intends to offer superior audio/sonic branding/ mogos (musical logos) and brand solutions for brands," Abraham adds.

The service will be available to any and all brands that wish to use it. Will the brands have to buy ad-spots on the company's frequency? Not necessarily says Thomas. He points out the service is open to all brands for all regions. Solutions will be developed for a national audience and he says that he sees an opportunity in both national and local advertising. A local advertiser from a city/territory that Radio City does not have a presence could avail of AudaCity's creative solutions too.

For FM radio, this is a first. To be sure internal copy writing units do exist in several FM stations. But none has spun that out into a specialised creative solutions agency. Since it is in its initial stages, Thomas refrained from giving any revenue projections or impact on overall revenues, but said that the uptake has been as expected. The noise among the FM brands and from the brands on radio will only get louder in the months to come.

  • Music Broadcast Pvt Ltd-owned Radio City was acquired (along with its events business) by Jagran Prakashan in 2015

  • It went into the 2015 auctions with 20 frequencies across metros and mini metros, acquired 11 frequencies for Rs 62.5 crore

  • The promoters of Jagran Prakashan also own Radio Mantra, which has around 8 stations in the Hindi heartland

  • The network now has 39 stations across the country, newly launched AudaCity is expected to work in tandem with these stations to help brands advertise on radio

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel