When demonetization hit companies along with the aftermath of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, the growth of Big FM and the industry at large in FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 was stalled to quite an extent. However, after a muted year of growth, things are looking up for Big FM as it bets on double-digit growth and is in the process of upping its ad rates in time for the forthcoming festive season. The radio network is also betting big on programmatic, by proposing to invest in a programmatic solution designed to enhance and catalyse advertiser experience and also increase the advertiser base in Tier II and Tier III cities.
Asheesh Chatterjee, CFO of Big FM says that things are looking good for the network this financial year, on the back of increased ad spends, their expansion across the country and improved content. Looking at the year ahead, he says, “We are looking at a 20-22% high double digit overall growth. Many of the things that we are doing on the product side and the psyche change that is happening will help us see better growth next year on a bigger base.”
The company also plans to increase its ad rates by 20-25% for the festive season by September. In addition to this, it has also launched 14 new stations post the Phase III auctions, which have performed well, driving growth for the network, adds Chatterjee.
Commenting on the radio Adex being stuck at 6-7%, Chatterjee attributes the stagnant growth to three basic factors – the belief that radio doesn’t deliver as well as other platforms, the over-indexing on high cost mediums like Print or TV properties with repeat advertisements that do not always deliver ROI, and the fundamental industry issue which doesn’t allow Radio to reach 100% of the audience.
On advertiser approach, Chatterjee says that the BFSI and Auto sectors are driving growth. Big FM is also confident about getting on board new age brands who have so far relied on Print, OOH and Digital for their advertising requirements.
Moreover, in terms of content, Big FM has been doing a lot of celebrity-led stories using a unique format to gravitate the audience to the segment. Chatterjee is also betting big on the network’s recent initiative Thwink BIG, an audio-video incubator and marquee studio that creates branded content.
Also in the pipeline is the creation of an adtech platform that provides definitive guidance and market intelligence through the ad inventory buying process. This platform will be modelled to achieve faster time to market by ensuring operational efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Commenting on the proposed launch of the ad-tech platform on the September 30, Chatterjee says, “It will open the floodgates for the smallest of advertisers with budgets as low as Rs 10,00025,000, to pick up the phone, go to our website, get a jingle made, buy a package and get state of the art frictionless service.”
Big FM has also entered into a strategic association with music director Pritam’s Jam8, which will deliver high quality music embedded in the advertiser’s messaging. This will be further amplified on Radio and Digital, thereby reaching out to wider audiences.
On the merger with Zee Media Corp. Limited (ZMCL), Chatterjee says, “The radio deal with Zee hasn’t happened yet and we cannot comment on it. We don’t know how long it will take as we are still awaiting regulatory approvals. As of now, Big FM continues to operate as an independent Reliance ADAG company.”