Monalisa Mandal, AVP Marketing, Fever FM shares insights on the radio industry, initiatives undertaken by Fever FM network, and content consumption trends on the medium during these times.
Monalisa Mandal, AVP Marketing, Fever FM (HT Media Ltd.) takes us through the latest initiatives by Fever Network during the ongoing pandemic. She sheds light on the digital-first approach being undertaken by the radio industry, in tandem to the new normal adopted across sectors in the A & M industry.
With campaigns such as ‘Bounce Back Bharat’ to Happiness partner and Digital Idol, the brand is fast embracing the digital revolution & attempting to ensure that they continue to spread positivity & hope amongst its audience.
Being a multi-station network, what are some of the changes you have seen in the Indian Radio industry in the last 3 months?
COVID -19 has redefined the way any business in any industry is operating. From rapid skilling to rapid tech adoption, to improvised GTMs we have seen businesses pivot to quickly adapt to the changing scenarios and shaping up the next normal.
So, for any business to stay relevant, it is critical to adapt to the changing environment through unique and innovative strategies. The biggest change sweeping through our lives these days is the digital revolution and how it can drive consumer behavior.
A primary focus area, not only for Fever, but for the overall radio industry was to pivot from being a radio only, to a digital-first, platform-agnostic industry.
With the business undergoing a paradigm shift towards digitization, both the consumers and brands are now expecting solutions across platforms. It, hence, becomes imperative for us to use new digital channels to reach the digital audience and work on amplifying the current revenue stream.
In the initial days, with a strict lockdown in place, how did you manage to create content? Is WFH an avid option for the radio industry?
We never really actively thought about WFH as an option before the pandemic hit us. However, the moment lockdown was announced, the quick transition of the technology required to take the shows live from home, without any quality drop was achieved in no time, and that surprised us!
We attempted to churn out fresh content, both on radio, as well as, on our social media assets.
We are now planning to reduce the office space and move to a permanent WFH model for 30% of our employees.
In lieu of the fact that radio still occupies more than 3% of media share as per AdEx, where does Fever Network stand?
The first quarter has been extremely challenging. Like all other sectors struggled to keep afloat, radio also had its share of hardships.
However, post lockdown we have seen a surge in the radio consumption across major metros, across SECs. People at home are spending more time listening to radio, with the time spent listening has gone up to 2hrs 30mins every day.
The digital eco-system of our radio stations are also churning many digital-first properties. With the boom in digital consumption, more and more brands are now looking for content solutions across both the radio and digital mediums and we are coming up with integrated properties.
With the festive season kicking in and the unlocking of the economy, we are hopeful that the next quarter would be better.
As per the RAM rating in the last week of Jun 2020, Fever FM occupied the top spot in terms of listenership in some metro cities. What is your competitor strategy like to remain on top in the coming days?
We have been able to maintain a stronghold in all metros with a very sharp ear on the content that works.
The key content pillars of Fever FM revolve around Bollywood, music, sports, CSR, and radio dramas.
While sports content has taken a backseat, we have made sure to spike up content around the other pillars. We are also working on fresh content with high affinity with our TG.
With the festive season kicking in starting with Rakshabandhan and Onam next month, we will launch several new content segments on radio and digital that will aim at bringing back smiles, celebrations, and positivity in our listeners’ lives.
With the impact of COVID-19 on the A & M sector, how have things been for the radio industry? In which areas have you seen the strongest impact? With brands re-evaluating their budgets & marketing strategy, how are radio Ad-Spends impacted?
The impact of Covid-19 has been across the entire spectrum of the A&M sector with FCT advertising revenues in radio falling to 80% during the first 90 days of the lockdown.
The radio industry is still going through its toughest time. There is a steep fall in government ads too.
Now, radio advertising has many advantages like low cost of creating content, lowest CPR against print and TV, hyperlocal programming, a more one on one medium with community engagement, low TAT to start a campaign, customized solutions leveraging the power of both radio + social media through RJs as influencers.
Brands do acknowledge these benefits of radio especially during these trying times when every penny spent on advertising counts and is measured against a strict ROI. Radio advertising will definitely find its way through quickly as the markets stabilize.
Which have been the categories in the market, that have the highest advertising spends on the Fever network?
Banking, FMCG, Auto, Delivery Apps, Real Estate, and Local Businesses.
With radio being a goldmine for audio content, do you have any digital distribution channels to make sure the content reaches to a wider audience?
Podcast in India is growing exponentially. India is now the 3rd largest podcast market translating into 2.4mn monthly listens. With an eye on the growing market, last year HT Media ventured into the podcast with the launch of HT Smartcast.
It hosts content from 29 genres, in 6 languages and so far has clocked around 25mn+ listeners. The content is distributed through other partner channels as well like Hubhopper, Apple podcast, Spotify, Jio Saavan, Gaana, etc.
While radio stations have been permitted to broadcast news from AIR bulletins, do you think a pandemic is a time where this policy needs to be widened, allowing stations to report local news?
Most Radio networks in India are part of large media houses but they are not able to leverage this opportunity to curate the news from the parent company. In addition, carrying the same syndicated AIR news bulletins across networks would not help create exclusivity in content. For now, this remains a challenging area.
Road to recovery and industry-shaping up in the post-COVID-19 period?
The road to recovery from this humanitarian crisis is going to be slow requiring a lot of resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all to rapidly adapt to the changing times and adopt the new normal. With the business undergoing a paradigm shift, it becomes imperative for us to use new digital channels to reach the digital audience and work on amplifying the radio + digital solution selling.
Also, foresee the industry-transforming its current ways of working to a more efficient and safe style. Be it broadcasting the shows from home or adopting a work from the home structure for the majority of the workforce, a lot of these measures could come into force for the long term.
The radio industry will pivot to a lean cost structure model.
The road ahead will also see collaborations as a great way to achieve business and marketing objectives. Especially during the current scenario, I strongly believe that riding on each other strengths is the way to go and will help grow your business to new levels. As a radio company, our partnerships with other mediums be it TV or print helps build scale and reach out to a wider target audience.