NEW DELHI: Advertising spend on radio is increasing as India's online shopping businesses utilise the medium to promote tactical offers leading industry figures have said.

Ashit Kukian, president & COO of national FM station Radio City, told Exchange4Media that spending by ecommerce players was up 65% in 2014.

"Radio dovetails their effort to drive volumes through topical sales beautifully," he said. "No other medium can offer the reach that radio offers and this is the reason that almost every e-commerce organisation breaks the radio campaign ahead of any other medium."

Speed and cost are major factors at play, according to Ashwin Padmanabhan, business head of BIG FM, another nationwide station. "TV has huge spillover and print's cost per contact is at times seven to ten times [that] of radio," he said.

Further, e-commerce companies tended to launch tactical offers every few days and also liked to be able to respond to competition in matter of hours: "radio works beautifully in such a competitive environment."

And there are simple practical benefits, highlighted by Mahesh Shetty, COO at ENIL. "A huge chunk of radio listening is happening on the mobile phone," he pointed out, and more and more online shopping is also being done on mobile.

"Since radio is primarily a background medium it does not hinder surfing/buying behaviour when a person is online," he said. "Offline retail uses radio very effectively to hammer through tactical offers … the same benefit holds true for online retail."

Despite the growing presence of online retailers on radio, some felt that they were still significantly underinvesting. "If their current radio spends are approximately 2% of their total budget, it certainly deserves to move up to at least 4% to 5%," declared B Surendar, COO at Red/Suryan FM.

He also argued it was possible to do radio-only campaigns for this category, using strong creative inputs to create a relevant visual image in the mind of the listener.

Shetty, however, felt that was not realistic, as consumers moved from one medium to another. But "radio can definitely be a strong 'lead medium' for e-commerce players," he said. "This is primarily because of the core benefits of radio – high reach, city centric, cost effective and compliments online."

Data sourced from Exchange4Media; additional content by Warc staff