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Harnessing The Power of Radio

From the KBP Website:

Although radio is considered a traditional medium, and sometimes passed over by advertisers in favor of television, it remains to be a potent vehicle for delivering the advertiser’s message. This theme was re-affirmed by media and advertising industry experts in the seminar organized by the KBP last May 26, 2008 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City.

The seminar, titled Harnessing the Power of Radio to Achieve Your Advertising Goals, was attended by 113 participants, mostly coming from advertisers and advertising agencies, and some from radio stations. The seminar is part of Radio Day, a three-in-one event organized by the KBP which also featured a seminar on producing creative radio commercials conducted by the Creative Guild, and the awarding of winners of the KBP Radio Ad Awards.

Radio’s Reach

The power of radio to achieve advertising goals is derived from its ability to reach large numbers of the audience. Jay Bautista, Nielsen Media Philippines’ Executive Director, reported during the seminar that radio reaches 98.5 percent of the population in the Philippines, one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Not only are many Filipinos tuning to radio, they also spend much time listening to radio — 17.7 hours per week.

Responding to claims that radio is being threatened by ipods and other MP3 players, Bautista said that, although ownership of digital music players is definitely on the rise, at the moment only 7.4% of Filipinos own one. He also said that Nielsen Media data shows owners of MP3 players are more likely to listen to radio than the average Filipino. The reason for this, he said, is that many MP3 users tune in to radio to find out what music they should download.

Effectiveness of Radio

Another media expert, Angelito “Boy P” Pangilinan, Managing Director of MediaCom Philippines, cited several studies showing the effectiveness of radio as an advertising medium. Among these is the research done by the Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab (RAEL) and published in 2004 which suggests that radio ads work even better when it’s added to television. Another RAEL study, according to Pangilinan, showed that radio is about 80% as potent as TV – for a single exposure of an average spot. RAEL is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 dedicated to creating and disseminating research about how radio advertising works in the United States. Although it should be noted that these research were done in the U.S., Pangilinan said that they could be true of the Philippines as well because of the high penetration of radio.

Pangilinan said that another strong characteristic of radio that was borne out by research is that listeners tend to perceive radio ads as directed personally to them, creating a powerful advertising environment of personal relevance and connections. He also said that several surveys have shown that the acceptance by the audience of radio ads is better than TV or internet advertising.

Pangilinan shared his own experience with radio where a client’s low budget forced him to turn to radio instead of television. The campaign resulted in a 28% increase in sales over the previous year.

According to Pangilinan, radio has a great opportunity to reinvent itself given the positive attributes related to it. It should not be seen as competing with the digital media, but as complementary, he said.

Successful Radio Campaigns

The best way to show that radio advertising works is to show some really life examples. Three of these examples were shown during the KBP’s Harnessing the Power of Radio seminar.

Sandeep Khanna, Head of Marketing Consumer and Marketing Operations of Nokia, demonstrated the key role played by radio during its Christmas 2007 campaign. To reinforce brand loyalty among its cellphone users, Nokia set up free battery charging stations all over Metro Manila. The charging stations would provide harassed Christmas shoppers on “low bat” to re-charge their batteries. Nokia devised a communications strategy with radio as a hub around which other media – online and flyers – were used to tell Nokia cellphone owners about the free charging service. Radio was used to target mobile users while in transit while flyers were used near the charging stations. The campaign produced positive brand perception for Nokia and increased traffic for partner establishments where the free battery charging stations were set up.

Connecting Through Emotions

If the Nokia campaign showcased radio’s ability to reach the advertiser’s target audience near the point of purchase, Nestlé Philippines’ example highlighted the ability of radio to connect with emotions. Sandra Puno, Nestlé Philippines’ Senior Vice-President and Director of Communications, said, “Radio is a medium full of emotions.”

During the seminar, she described how one of Nestlé made use of this quality of radio in one of its campaigns: “We had a radio promo where we asked our listeners to share their most memorable Nescafé moment. And the duration was really short but the trick is: it was done nationwide…. First we had thematic radio 30’s encouraging consumers to express themselves on air. Phase two was the contest proper. Consumers worked to share their most memorable Nescafé and rain moments.” Radio stations participating in the promo selected one winner per day and winners received a special gift pack from Nescafé.

Puno said, “It was very simple but surprising results were achieved. We even got letters congratulating and thanking us. Promo was able to install in the minds of the consumers that it is best to have a cup of Nescafé when it rains…. It was very simple. Nothing earth shaking, nothing mind-boggling and yet, we got what we wanted.”

Versatile Medium

Radio’s versatility in adapting to the requirements of an advertising campaign was shown during the seminar in the presentation by Margot Torres, Vice-President for Marketing for McDonald’s Philippines. Torres said that the effectiveness of radio as an advertising medium either as a single medium or as an important component of the media mix has been shown in McDonald’s advertising campaigns in the Philippines. She said that their radio campaign for Red Hot Chicken in 2007 achieved its target without any television support. McDonald’s also used primarily radio to promote its Drive-Thru business in 2007. “The frequency that radio provides gives our campaigns more intensity and vigor, which is especially important when we launch a new product or a promo,” Torres said in a much applauded talk.

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