Q] While several radio stations are entering markets where MY FM has a stronghold, will we see a reverse of that happening in your case, in terms of a metro debut? As a policy, we would not like to be in metro cities. We understand our market very well and are pretty happy where we are currently, with the ability to maintain a good bottom line. The metros are overcrowded and cluttered. We are doing well in our domain and if any new station opportunity props up in our market, we will definitely grab it.
Q] Since taking over as Business Head of MY FM, what are some of the key changes that you have brought about? Harish Bhatia, my mentor, has done a great job with this company and I am only adding to it, while keeping its essence intact. One of the things I have initiated since joining is to get sales and product teams to work together for the common interest of the organization, as well as our listeners.
Q] This year, MY FM’s Q1 results were not as good as the same period last year. What were the challenges hindering growth? We consciously took some corrective action in an effort at bettering our product. One of these changes was in terms of music. 70-80% of radio is music, we promised our listeners that we will give them maximum music. In order to do this, we controlled our ads space inventory. In most cities, we play more music, compared to our peers. For a better experience, we needed to reduce the ads.
Q] Has this resulted in an increase in ad costs? We are trying to increase the ad cost as well as the nonairtime business, which includes on-ground activation. This also provides our clients with a 360 degree solution with better results. Apart from this, we are also using the digital space better. Thus, these were all conscious decisions taken with full awareness of their impact on our bottom line.
Q] What percentage of your revenue comes from content integration today? Currently, about 17%-18% of our overall revenue comes from content integration. We are hoping to increase this figure to 25-30%.
Q] How different are advertisers on MY FM, when compared to other radio stations? In our market, typically Q1 is dominated by education, then there is real estate, lifestyle, FMCG and auto. These are the top five categories. The real India lives in Tier II and Tier III towns which we call Bharat and therein lies our strength. In fact, everybody is moving towards this market. This consumer segment does not have many avenuesfor entertainment, so Radio is one of the biggest entertainment mediums for them and our RJs become mini celebrities in those markets. For example, in Jaipur, our morning RJ has over one million followers.
Q] What unique value proposition does MY FM have to offer advertisers in such markets? Tier II and Tier III markets don’t have many production houses who can customize jingles for brands. We recognized this opportunity some three-four years ago, and created a separate production set-up within our system, where we create customized jingles for each client, with the production costs borne by us. However, while we would love our clients to use these jingles created by us exclusively on MY FM, we do not restrict them from playing the jingles on rival stations and other mediums like TV, caller tunes, ringtones, etc. My production team across India is roughly 6070 people strong and we have 30 radio stations, some of them in vernacular languages. We are proud of the fact that over 70-80% of locally-created spots in Tier II and Tier III markets like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, and Indore are made by MY FM. This setup has provided a boost to our revenues as well, because advertisers really love our productions and production quality.
Q] What are MY FM’s big plans for the festive season? This festive season, we are looking at controlling the inventory, bettering productions apart from jingles, and working on better communication to address clients’ needs. We created a separate key team who will be working only on the top advertising spenders in categories such as automobile, lifestyle, FMCG, etc to create a better audio experience for advertisers, as well as listeners. We expect to gain a lot from these categories this season and are looking at a double digit revenue growth over the same period last year.
Q] More and more youth are moving to digital radio, which at a basic subscription fee, provides ad-free music. How are you countering that? India has become digitally savvy. While Saavn and other such platforms are doing well, the beauty of Radio lies in its unpredictability. So, for example Saavn displays the list of songs up front, while listening to the radio has a touch of unpredictability to it, in that the listener does not know the next song which will be played. That could even be an old favorite, which one may have not heard in years. The science behind the music is again is something no digital platform can match. Finally, there is a certain talent in the way an RJ packages an upcoming song, and how they pre-sell it, too.
Q] Radio does not have a uniform measurement system. Is that one of the reasons why big advertisers are not pumping in much money into the sector? As long as advertisers cannot evaluate and measure the outcome of their money spent, they will not be able to justify the ad spends to themselves or others, which is the biggest challenge faced by the radio industry today. We don’t have a proper currency which is approved by everyone. So somebody uses IRS data, somebody uses RAM. As part of the radio fraternity, we are working to come up with a solution for this, as it is restricting the growth of the medium. And if this currency doesn’t become a reality, we will continue to struggle. The best example is BARC and the growth of FTA channels after it came into being. Actually Radio delivers a lot more than what we are credited for. It’s an effective medium, and the only one that literally travels with you. For example, you can listen to the radio while driving, while shopping, etc. The lifecycle of Print is 8 am and that of Television starts typically after 8 pm. Most shopping takes place from 8 am to 8 pm. Therefore radio is the only medium which stays with you through the day. Thus, the medium has tremendous potential, but the absence of a uniform currency is restricting it. However, hopefully within the next three months, we will be able to roll out some uniform currency for measurement.
Q] Where do you see MY FM five years from now? While we are already number 1 in our market, I see MY FM becoming the most profitable company in this sector within the next three-five years.