Community Radio National Advertising pilot scheme to launch

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An opportunity to collectively organise and sell radio advertising airtime

There are now almost 200 full-time community radio stations broadcasting in the UK today, with more becoming licensed and going on-air every month. Ofcom is currently in the process of a third round of community radio licensing, which is taking place on a region-by-region basis.

Whilst it is difficult to exactly calculate listenership, it is likely that 10% of populations served by community stations are tuning in at least once weekly. This produces at conservative estimates 1,000,000 listeners per week.

This represents a unique opportunity to enable large advertisers across the UK to connect with the goodwill and community access represented by this sector.

A CMA member and volunteer, Roy Stannard on Seahaven FM in Seaford, has come forward to offer his services to create a national buying facility via his agency, Zerofiftyone in East Sussex.

The protocol would be as follows:

  • Zerofiftyone will act as the sales agency (exclusively).
  • The CMA will act as the distribution provider (sending copy) and will liaise with individual stations as required.
  • We would like to pilot a campaign using all participating stations – it could be the first 20 – or ideally the 100 stations who we hope to opt in.
  • We would like a paragraph of information relating to audience, TSA, style of output, listening hours (if known) for each station.
  • A list of participating stations – so we would need the opt-in stations to respond as soon as possible.
  • This will pre-suppose the participating station’s ability to produce Transmission Certificates for each campaign on each station showing spot times.
  • A national community radio survey (similar to the one on the home page of Seahaven FM) that asks for audience listening behaviour and patterns to be implemented by participating stations with a questionnaire supplied from the CMA.
  • Anecdotal evidence such as number of phone ins, text ins, website polls etc is also useful data and we would appreciate this feedback from you as of now.
  • Three levels of radio station banding according to audience – see below.
  • Grouping by county and regionally to offer flexible packages to advertisers.

Pricing will consist of weekly packages of 12 x spots – 1 per hour seven days a week – ie. 84 spots per week at £200, £300 and £400 according to the tier of radio audience (under 10k, 10-20k, above 20k per day audience) is about the right level. This would mean a spot rate yield to the stations (based on 12 spots a day) of £1.04, £1.56 and £2.07 across the tiers.

The biggest selling point of the community radio stations is that they reach a very local community and can help advertisers get across community messaging. With this in mind, the national buying house’s advice regarding pricing is to suggest the following structure:

  • Band A station (above 20k weekly audience, high reach & hours) = £400 for 50-80 spots per week
  • Band B station (10-20k weekly reach medium reach & hours) = £300 for 50-80 spots per week
  • Band C station (below 10k weekly reach low reach & hours) = £200 for 50-80 spots per week

Using the comparison between Seahaven FM and its local competitor Splash FM, Seahaven would have to be cheaper in order for most advertisers to consider it as an option. Seahaven would be classed as a ‘B’ station, therefore making it a cheaper option. However, a note of caution – many clients will be willing to pay more money for a recognised station with audience figures so the “local community” sell needs to be strong.

We believe that ethnic stations may be of a strong interest to some clients, particular in recruitment advertising, so could therefore be classed as ‘A’ no matter their reach. Having said this, strong station information would be needed so the client is clear on the type of listener.

To summarise, individual community stations on their own are unlikely to be a viable option for many national (as opposed to local) clients running ‘standard campaigns’ due to the lack of data and station knowledge. However, if there is a strong community element needed in the campaign (for clients such as Tesco etc) or if there is a specific need to target a geographic or ethnic community then a reasonably priced community station could provide a strong opportunity.

If you are running a licensed community radio station and would like to participate in the initial pilot scheme please email radioads@commedia.org.uk and we will then supply you with the next stage information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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