Regional radio’s relevance in converged media landscape


Cindy Diamond, inland sales director at leading media sales house Mediamark and a 17-year veteran of the broadcast industry states in an opinion piece that regional radio remains one of the most vibrant and exciting media for advertisers in South Africa.

Diamond says that the landscape has changed dramatically over the course of her career, starting with the deregulation of radio and the introduction of new licences as South Africa transitioned to democracy. “At that time, we saw new life injected into radio as former SABC regional stations were privatised and sold off to commercial players,’ says Diamond. “It was the birth of a more dynamic media industry in South Africa, thanks to the investments commercial players made in radio brands and talent at the time.’

She continues that regional radio has built on the success of those years, even as digital media, out of home advertising and low yield, high-volume TV inventory have fragmented the media world and given advertisers new options.

According to her though other forms of established media – print, for instance – are challenged by the changing landscape, regional radio remains as strong as ever. “The reason for this is that regional radio players have been very successful in building niche audiences within a mass pool. The benefit for the advertiser is a mix of far reach and targeted results that remains unique in the South African media environment,’ says Diamond.

She comments that one factor in regional radio’s success is the flexibility that local broadcasters have shown in adapting to a changing market. “As we’ve seen new media proliferate, broadcasters have been proactive in using them in blended solutions for their clients. They have reshaped themselves from single platforms into true multi-channel organisations.’

Diamond remarks that, for example, many regional radio stations are now successfully and profitably segmenting regional audiences through multiple touch points such as events, online, mobile and out of home. This enables radio stations and advertisers to connect with targeted communities such as family, business, women, health, etc.

“South African radio broadcasters today, are using digital and social media to increase engagement, gather data that allows them to understand their listeners better, and ultimately, help advertisers to run more successful campaigns.

“Cross-channel competitions and campaigns that use SMS, online and broadcast elements are proving to be very successful. As South African internet penetration rises, regional radio stations will use it to enrich their listener experience rather than see it as a threat,’ adds Diamond.

She says that a changing market means that regional radio has had to change the way it sells advertising and mentions that today the market is shaped by price, discounts, inventory trading models, as well as a move away from agency commissions to fee-based contracts that are based on measureable results. Media owners’ ability to demonstrate value is a critical driver to landing a deal.

Diamond remarks: “With fragmented audiences and clutter in the media landscape, advertisers have changed how they buy inventory and audiences. Measurement, return on investment and cross-media buys are driving the market today. That means radio ads need to be sold differently – as part of a media solution that may span other channels.’

She concludes: “There is a shift away from transactional relationships between advertisers and radio stations to close collaborations between agencies, advertisers and media owners. It’s no longer about selling a generic spot, but co-creating content and solutions for greater ROI. Regional radio stations are working closely with clients on creative ideas that span multiple channels to ensure their continued relevance as part of the media mix.’


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