Regional radio remains one of the most vibrant and exciting media for advertisers in South Africa, following nearly 20 years of change and evolution in the landscape.
The landscape has changed dramatically over the course of my career (17 years ago), 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A changing market means that regional radio has had to change the way it sells advertising. 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 measurable results. Media owners’ ability to demonstrate value is a critical driver to landing a deal.
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.
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.
Cindy Diamond is inland sales director at media sales house Mediamark.
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