Tuesday 15 October 2013

Radio Interactive II - WhatsApp

91.9FM Radio Indigo (Bangalore,India) is one of the stations that spans all the four communication mediums covered in Part I of this post. Though they have retired the short code, their usage of WhatsApp piqued my interest. I searched on internet to find other stations that use WhatsApp for listener engagement. The only relevant result I got was Power98FM (Singapore).

What could be station’s objective in using WhatsApp? I don’t have WhatsApp on my phone and have limited understanding about its functionalities, my initial thought was perhaps it helps the station know the number of unique listeners who have added it to their WhatsApp contacts. It might be a useful metric apart from the listenership numbers to a sponsor. But, the lack of such functionality within WhatsApp brings it at par with SMS (both short code and long code).

So, from numbers perspective, it is of little significance to a sponsor whether the station uses WhatsApp or SMS. Being similar to SMS, the station will know the number of unique listeners who have added it to their WhatsApp contacts only when they respond against an on-air call for action.

A compelling differentiator in favor of WhatsApp is the element of multimedia. One of the contests that I caught on 91.9FM Radio Indigo, required listeners to share their wildest party pictures and the best picture stood a chance to win Party-In-A-Box gift hamper sponsored by JustBake.  To me WhatsApp was the ideal communication medium for this contest. The listener did not have to dial the studio number to share their wildest party experiences with the Radio Jockey (RJ) or send a long text describing their wildest party moments, the picture said it all.

One can argue that the creative solution can always be tweaked to accommodate the station’s dominant communication medium, for example SMS (in the absence of WhatsApp) to engage with listeners. This is an absolutely valid point. But, one has to appreciate that WhatsApp as an additional medium available to the stations helps drive listener engagement in a manner not possible earlier.

More than a year ago, I caught the song Rock On! on 104FM Fever (Bangalore, India). The song bought back memories of my tenure with the music label that owned its rights. I immediately sent an SMS to the RJ. “Hey Darius, I once licensed this song to TV Channels in India.” The next day I get a call from Arjun who was Darius’s show producer and he wanted me to share my nostalgia on-air.

Perhaps there are many such listeners who will have a story to share. Likes of WhatsApp makes this engagement and interaction easy for both the station and the listener. Had it been today, instead of a text, it would be my voice message, “Hey Darius, do you know I once licensed this song to TV Channels in India” and all that Arjun had to do was to appropriately slot the voice message in the program clock.

Do you agree that likes of WhatsApp elevates the station’s engagement and interaction with its listeners? Please share your valued experience and thoughts.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Radio Interactive

It is interesting to note how radio stations employ various communication media to engage listeners in a dialog rather than a one-way broadcaster-to-listener monolog. As a listener, I have attempted to rank the current communication media employed by the stations on four parameters. There could be additional parameters (or even additional communication media), which I might have missed in this post. I’ll be glad if you can point out those.

It is important to define ‘dialog’. I’ll stick to the definition contextual to the terrestrial radio broadcast: “Call for action solicited from the listener on a linear timeline synchronous with the terrestrial broadcast of the radio station”. This essentially means listener interaction sought on-air either by the Radio Jockey (RJ) or through an interactive advertisement with a definite start and end time during the segment/program broadcast. For example, “Guess the Property Price”, a contesting segment. This does not include off-air interaction such as listener comments on the social media or web presence of the radio station.

Phone Call
Short Code
Long Code
Low (Nil)
High (Yes)
Low (Nil)
Low (Nil)

Example, the RJ requests the listeners to share their happiest memories from school days by:

Phone Call: calling (080) 4115 6943
Short Code: texting on 53650
Long Code: texting on 9986 104 104
WhatsApp: sending their school photos on WhatsApp

Cost: Amongst the four listed communication media, short code bears the maximum charge to the listener as it is usually a premium priced SMS. Cost of other three depends on the voice/data tariff plan listeners have with their communication service provider.

Immediacy: Ability provided by the communication medium to get across the listener’s response against a call for action in the least number of attempts with minimum effort. My personal experience as a listener is reaching the radio station over a phone call is the most difficult.  

Recall: Ability of the listener to remember the number to call/message the radio station.

Acknowledgement: The response text (Push SMS) received by the listener against the SMS sent to a short code. For example, ‘Thanks for texting your favorite radio station. Keep tuned in for great music’.

As I write this paragraph, the above text seems obvious and elementary, for the simple reason that terrestrial radio is the only broadcast medium that is still analog. Progressing on its target to a complete switch over to digital mode by year 2017, on September 24, 2013, the state broadcaster, All India Radio issued a tender to acquire 800 Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) (a digital radio standard) General Purpose Receivers. Will digital radio change the mode and manner of dialog between the radio station and its listeners?

So what do you think? Please share your valued experience and thoughts, the comments box is just below this line :-)

Saturday 5 October 2013

Guess the Property Price

I bumped into the radio ads of the three real estate portals in the month of September 2013. Switching stations during commercial breaks did not help escape these ads. The two of them that grabbed my attention were 99 acres and IndiaProperty. 99acres was about 99 property tips with each ad unit being a knowledge nugget for property investors, whereas IndiaProperty took an advergaming route. 

What’s it all about?

Indiaproperty’s ad urged the listeners if life is about guessing one thing or the other, than why not guess the price of a property in the advergame, ‘Guess the Property Price’, hosted exclusively on Fever 104 FM Bangalore (Karnataka, India).

How to play Guess the Property Price?

The listeners register by texting, FEVER<space><Their Name> to 9986 104 104

Game Play

Two listeners are chosen by the Radio Jockey (RJ) and are pitted against each other on-air. The RJ introduces both the participants to the listeners and starts the game by describing the property. The property elements described by the RJ are, name of the builder/developer, name of the property, location, size of the dwelling unit (for example, 2BHK having an area of 1260 square feet) and amenities.  The first participant takes a shot at guessing the price followed by the second participant. The RJ gives the option to the first participant to revise the guess followed by the second participant. The RJ then reveals the property price and the participant whose guess is closest to the actual price, wins the game.

What’s the Prize?

The prize is valued at INR 1,000.00/-

What’s the big deal?

The number of Google search results against the query ‘Guess the Property Price’ suggests that the idea is beaten to death. However, I did not come across any webpage, which suggested radio as a medium for the game. So is it a first on radio, perhaps not.

Circa 2004, my pitch to brands while suggesting them advergaming solutions from a pioneering advergaming portal of India (contests2win.com) was, ‘if it is just an ad in a medium, the time spent with the brand equals the duration of the spot or length of the copy, but turn the communication into a game, and you have an engaged, sticky audience. Unleash the intrinsic gamer within your target audience’. The big deal is perhaps this insight used by IndiaProperty.

I can speak for myself, though I was not at all interested in the property being described by the RJ or had any intention of buying it, but I can still recall name of the property and its price. It’s not bad given the fact that it has been over two weeks since I first heard about the property on the advergame.

Advertising opportunities?

The segment is sponsored by Indiaproperty.com.

What next?

I believe it will be more interesting if an additional winner is chosen from the listeners who do not make it on-air, but have texted the right answer before the price reveal by the RJ.

What else?

Mentioned above is what met the ‘ear’. What intrigues me is:

Who pays whom, – Is it co-op advertising? Can one assume that a part of the campaign budget is booted by the builders/developers whose projects feature in the daily question? This also begs a related question—who sponsors the prizes—Indiaproperty.com or the builder/developer whose property is featured in the daily question.

The choice of property in the daily question, – What is the criterion of picking up a specific property to feature in the daily question? Is it the past campaign of the project on this station? Or is it the properties from builders/developers who have committed good advertising dollars to get a featured listing on Indiaproperty.com?

So what do you think? Please share your valued experience and thoughts, the comments box is just below this line :-)

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Don Ka Dance Bar

It was one of those days (October 8, 2012 to be precise), when I had this fleeting moment of self-actualization with a voice (the same as they use in Big Boss!) in my head questioning the merit of professional education when all I was doing was churning out files in different formats of MS Office!

It was this beautiful and chirpy voice of Sriranjani that uplifted my mood and bought me back to the realization that ‘Yes…MS Office is the way to go…it rocks!’ She sang me:

Himashuji zara dheere chalo, B.E. Kiya MBA Kiya, Padhne se kya faayda…takea listen on Sound Cloud for the full song.

What is it all about? 
In my earlier post Supari, I mentioned that the evening show on Fever 104 FM Bangalore is all about the elements of a Bollywood Don. Sriranjani’s song and dance sequence is the segment Don Ka Dance Bar on RJ Darius’s evening show D Company (Mon – Fri, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm).

How to enter the Don Ka Dance Bar?

Listener sends an SMS to 9986104104 with a witty message that gets the attention of the Don…

And if the Don likes the message, the listener gets a call from Don’s show producer and in-house Dance Bar singer, Sriranjani. She asks the listener about what she should include from the listeners life in the personalized song she would sing for the listener (in my case it was PowerPoint, self-actualization…). And yes, there you are with a personalized song being sung to you in the most mellifluous of voices…it’s your moment to bath in all that glory with the realization that a city of 8.5 million is able to listen what is being sung for you…you are very much the hero (or heroine) of that moment.

What’s the big deal?

Do you remember, when it used to be your buddy’s birthday, you could SMS the radio jockey with your pal’s number and birth date and your pal gets his/her birthday surprise with someone from the radio station singing a Happy Birthday song for your pal. Well Dance Bar is not the same thing. It differs. One, it’s all about you, whether you want to be in the Dance Bar or not, is up to you. No proxies here…if you want to be in, it’s you who sends the SMS for your own self. Two, unlike Birthdays, Dance Bar is all about both happy and not so happy days; it need not be your happy day to request entry in the Dance Bar.

Advertising opportunities

I don’t recall if it was a sponsored segment.

What next?

I believe the segment is now retired. May 31, 2013 was the last working day of Sriranjani at Fever 104 FMBangalore. I was twice lucky on this segment and the second time around (May 10, 2013) she sang me a song befitting the monsoons. Take  a listen on SoundCloud for the full song. 

It was RJ Sindhu who kept the segment alive for some time post Sriranjani’s movement from Fever 104 FMBangalore. If the segment is retired, why write about it now? Well, couple of days back I caught the ad of a memory storage cards brand on television which bought back past ‘memories’. You’ll be asking, what’s the connection?

When I first entered the Dance Bar, I remember writing to RJ Darius with a suggestion to create a personalized tangible for the non-tangible on-air experience. The idea was to provide the listener with a Fever 104 FM branded USB stick of their personalized song. The sponsor I had in mind was a memory storage card brand. The suggestion did not make a dent, because I do not remember any memory storage card brand sponsoring the Dance Bar segment.

You can take a listen of Sriranjani’s Dance Bar personalized songs on her Sound Cloud Channel.