A nationally sold slot

Talk Radio and Virgin 1215 are registering healthy growth in the latest round of Rajar figures – up 17 per cent and six per cent respectively. This will strengthen the national stations’ arm in their battle for revenue share against independent local radio (ILR).

In this context, it is interesting to see Media Sales & Marketing (MS&M) launching a new “national” package of ten seconds’ airtime, exclusively in traffic reports across the ILR network. This neatly combines a national communication with local information.

Trafficlink, as it is called, provides a solus, drive-time only opportunity for advertisers, in programming that is different for each station but remains “environmentally” consistent. The slot is available in 62 per cent of the country, but this is expected to grow to 83 per cent by January 1996.

Capital Radio’s research cites traffic reports as one of listeners’ biggest reasons for tuning in, especially in the drive-time clock hours. Advertisers can expect high attention for these spots, although they will need this as the only available spot length is ten seconds.

The audience levels and profile in the Trafficlink segments (6.30am to 9.30am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm) will be attractive for mass-market targeting, although there will be a slight ABC1 skew compared to total radio listening.

The break will be placed in the centre of the report, immediately following “Flying Eye” and preceding local road, rail, tube and bus reports. The package could be effective as a direct-response supplement to brand campaigns (in the same way ten-second ads are used to complement longer brand ads on TV), or as a low-cost entry to the medium for advertisers wanting to test radio.

However, if MS&M is to draw in new advertisers, it will have to offer a more attractive adult cost per thousand than the ratecard price of between 2.00 and 2.50. It would be disappointing if a good initiative such as this were over-priced, especially to new radio advertisers.

Hopefully, Trafficlink will be one of a continuing number of cross-station initiatives which offer a one-stop, national, fixed environment on radio. These present not only good testing opportunities but also the potential to develop tailored creative work to best exploit the packaged programming. This in turn could help demonstrate the potential for creative planning in a medium not yet known for it.

The main barrier to ILR providing more national buys is reluctance on the part of local stations to embrace syndicated programming, as they believe it compromises their integrity. Although a network saturated with syndicated programmes is in no one’s interests, a more open-minded attitude could help recruit more national advertisers and encourage creative planning.

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