Radio might be one of the oldest media channels around, but with over three million New Zealanders still tuning into the airwaves on a weekly basis, it continues to have a strong hold on the attention of today’s listeners. We chat to TRB general manager Peter Richardson about why radio is still grooving despite all the changes in media.
The Spinoff editor Duncan Greive recently referred to radio as being "a kind of Godless media Ibiza where every citizen is oily and suspiciously tanned and pulling a funny face despite being 108 years old". Why despite everything impacting the media does the channels still have such a strong listenership?
The simple answer is content, content and content. Listeners have strong connections to the radio brands and personalities. The personalities have evolved into the social media space and so offer more opportunities for interaction with their listeners. This has driven greater connectivity and loyalty.
What role does TRB play in 2017? How has that evolved from what it was previously?
TRB plays the same role it always has done – a one-stop shop of radio experts providing impartial radio plans and solutions that maximise the effectiveness of radio. The only change is that agencies have the option to engage with each of the networks’ sales teams. TRB’s role as industry marketer has taken a hiatus over the last couple of years, but watch this space.
The radio industry still seems very competitive. Every time the survey result are released, the commercial networks really seem to for at each other. Is the competition good or bad for the industry? Isn't collaboration a necessary part of the game these days?
Competition between the networks is healthy and essential for a strong industry. However, occasionally the rivalry can obscure the overall picture which is a vibrant medium attracting more and more listeners. The competitive nature of the two networks drives each other to produce even better engaging content.
There's a perception that TRB usually only works with smaller, direct clients? Is this fair? Or do you commercial activities extend well beyond that?
That’s an interesting perception and one that couldn’t be further from the reality. TRB’s key clients are advertising agencies and their clients including Foodstuffs, The Warehouse Group, Farmers and Spark. Our role is to work with agencies to develop impartial radio solutions for their clients. In our most successful partnerships, we are the agencies’ radio planning arm.
Do you have some examples of brands/agencies that you've helped to make good radio advertising decisions?
TRB collaborated with MBM to create an overarching radio strategy for VTNZ in 2016. The strategy has been successful, evidenced by its continuation this year. TRB also worked with Panasonic to combine sponsorship of Olympic activity with integrated content, by giving away a TV whenever NZ won gold – possibly a few more TVs than they bargained for. These are just a couple of examples of what the team does every day – identifying opportunities and events to leverage campaigns by using appropriate content on the most suitable radio station.
TRB has gone through some significant restructuring over the past few years. Have you now settled on a final team?
Undoubtedly, 2015 was a turbulent year for TRB but 2016 saw stability, the re-establishment of the team and strong revenue growth. This year we are building on that foundation and looking to add resource, particularly in the marketing area.
With some many digital listening options available, why should brands still consider using radio as a channel to grow their brands?
Because, despite what people’s perceptions are, the evidence shows that over 79 percent of Kiwis listen to commercial radio each week – no digital listening format can match that. We constantly get told how the younger demographics don’t listen to radio, but the latest GfK survey reported an 8 percent increase in the number of 20- to 29-year-olds tuning in.
What are some of the most successful brands that you've seen built on radio advertising in recent years?
The Warehouse has been a strong supporter of radio for many years. We plan various layers of radio activity, in consultation with their agency, to support the various categories, primarily product and price. This activity is then enhanced by the use of promotions and integrated offerings to boost major events, most recently Mother’s Day. The Warehouse are also enthusiastic supporters of Christmas charity promotions across several radio stations and are a key provider of prizes and giveaways to the less fortunate across the festive season.
What is TRB doing in the digital space? Digital revenue for radio remains very small? So what role can TRB play in the increasing digital revenue for the industry?
Digital provides the opportunity to cost- effectively enhance a radio campaign with a visual component. Additionally, each network has a digital platform – iHeart and Rova – and these form part of virtually every plan.
How big of a threat are the likes of Pandora and Spotify, especially given that they are offering targeted advertising solutions?
The numbers on Spotify and Pandora are not in the same ballpark as radio listenership. Once subscribers are taken out, the numbers that are hearing ads are very low. Yes, they can target very specifically, but the plethora of radio brands allow targeting to a larger market. Radio can also offer, via iHeart, even tighter targeted solutions.
Contact: Peter Richardson general manager, The Radio Bureau PeterR@trb.co.nz
This story is part of a content partnership with The Radio Bureau.