Having explored various sectors in my Pockets of Excellence series of articles, including cinema, outdoor advertising and a burning hot media agency crossed with a media company, I decided to turn my attention to the radio advertising space. This after I received a suggestion from one of our readers. Michael Bratt talks to John Walls.
In just four years of business Ultimate Media has attracted some big clients and projects. John Walls, director and co-owner of the company says the aim of the specialist radio agency is to “create radio-led solutions for our clients across multiple stations. Ultimate Media specialises in non-traditional radio with a strong emphasis on radio-driven convergence”.
And the business has clearly done something right attracting such big name clients as OLX with its ‘Sell It’ campaign, Nedbank, Wimpy with its ‘Turn Up Summer’ campaign, Gautrain, Cricket SA with its ‘Protea Fire’ campaign and various campaigns for Old Mutual. The agency also created and manages a digital radio station for Old Mutual.
Walls credits the success of the agency to its results driven approach. “We get results for our clients. After every campaign we present our client with a detailed return on investment report detailing in full the additional on air value generated by the campaign. We also have the ability to smoothly converge radio with digital, which has made radio far more measurable as a medium,” he says.
Walls says the agency takes the schlepp out of implementing non-traditional radio. “Managing a non-traditional radio campaign on one station can give you grey hairs. Managing a non-traditional campaign on multiple stations simultaneously can send you over the edge. We have a team who have worked at radio stations. They know how the stations work… and they take the hassle off your hands.” The experience and knowledge of the Ultimate Media team is amplified by the company’s four co-owners – Pippa Cohen, John Walls, Shelley Viljoen and Simon Parkinson – who between them have over 80 years of experience working within radio. Walls described the agency as ‘the radio station without the radio station.’ “We can give you everything you get at a radio station but we give it to you across all stations. When we bring you an advertising solution it’s because it’s the right solution for your brand, not because we have a sales target to make. Think of us as the Uber of Radio,” he says.
Ultimate Media also shared some advice on what clients are looking for in terms of radio advertising, summarising it as Content, Convergence and Influence. In terms of content the trend seen is that clients want to own their own content because it allows the creation of a real engagement between the brand and the consumer. But Walls says, “The problem, however, is that if your content is of poor quality all you do is create a negative engagement with the consumer. There’s a serious skill shortage in SA when it comes to producing good audio content.” When it comes to convergence, Ultimate Media says clients are always looking for true convergence. Walls explained that, “For us true convergence means using a traditional medium like TV, radio or print to find your prospects and then taking them, in a simple and hassle-free way, to a digital platform where you can engage them one-on-one. Of all the traditional media radio is by far the best suited for convergence.” Finally, in terms of influence, Ultimate Media says clients want influencers to endorse their products. But Walls warns, “You’ve got to do it in a way that’s authentic and credible. And if you don’t know how to speak ‘radio’ you’re probably going to get it wrong and end up damaging your brand.”
Walls says other highlights from the past four years of operation include, “growing the staff at the group from an initial three to 17, creating and implementing over 250 multiple-station radio campaigns, working with nearly all of the major media agencies, building strong relationships with all major radio stations and radio groups, working on campaigns with over 60 top radio presenters and building up the most extensive library of radio case histories in SA.”
Going forward, Walls says, “Ultimate Media will continue to develop its content and convergence offerings.” He explained the group will do this by employing experienced people who understand radio, understanding fully the business of their clients, using creative solutions that get results and staying ahead of the game. For the last point he elaborated, “The radio industry is changing at a rapid rate worldwide. We constantly keep our finger on overseas developments and trends, particularly how digital is completely changing how radio is being consumed.”
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