News TV/Radio Deals

EXCLUSIVE – Shock Middle East to limit each commercial break to two ads on its radio stations

From left: Cameron Plant and Digby Taylor.

Dubai-based Shock Middle East (SME), which celebrates two successful years in the radio business next month, is launching a UAE-first radio initiative, in which it will air only two ads in a row during a commercial break on its three radio stations – Dance 97.8 FM, Heart 107.1 and Radio Hala 95.6 FM, effective today (Thursday, January 31), BroadcastPro ME can reveal. This initiative, which promises listeners a clutter-free radio experience and advertisers, good value for their money, is based on a behavioural research survey of radio listenership in the UAE, conducted by the radio network in partnership with IPSOS.

Key findings from the research shows that 76% of respondents listen to radio in the car, 96% of respondents do not want more than five ads in one commercial break and surprisingly, only 13% are interested in ads read live by presenters.

The research concludes that long commercial breaks are considered the main reason listeners switch from one radio station to another, and listeners invariably listen to two or three radio stations as a result.

Elaborating on the research and SME’s subsequent announcement, Cameron Plant, a radio veteran who recently joined Shock as Group Managing Director, told BroadcastPro ME: “We had some idea about what our listeners want but you can never be sure until you conduct adequate research on the effectiveness of radio in this country. We wanted to find out from our listeners what they liked and what they didn’t like, and this research with IPSOS really helped to identify our USP (unique selling proposition). When we discovered that 96% of listeners don’t want to listen to more than five ads, we decided to offer only two ads so there’s less chance for listeners to switch to another radio station.

“Our promise is simple, give listeners what they want — less ads, more music, more content and provide clients with an environment, where they receive maximum brand recall and exposure. We can’t wait to see the response from audiences & clients across the UAE.”

The initiative will have a soft launch on Thursday, from 6 am onwards, Digby Taylor, Programming Director at SME told BroadcastPro ME.

“The official launch is not until Sunday, 3 February, but this will help us fine tune everything and ensure our presenters are very comfortable as they now know that a commercial break will be no more than a minute before they have to get back on air.”

With the IPSOS research pointing out that most listeners could only recall 2.8 of 10 ads when they were played in one go, Plant pointed out: “If you are the fifth, sixth or even the last in an ad break, irrespective of which radio station you are on, chances are listeners have already switched off. Most radio stations charge extra to be the first or last in the ad break. If you are the last and paying loading to be the last in that ad break, the odds are you are not being heard anyway. We are not charging any loading and there’s just two ads from us. With this, we are hoping to play between 11 and 14 songs an hour, if not more.”

Advertisers can still book the same number of advertisements; this just means that the station may have one or two more commercial breaks but limit ads to two for each break.

“The difference is not in the number of breaks but the duration of a break and the content in between the breaks. We have spoken to a few clients and told them we are potentially changing our clocks and the way we execute ads on air, and they have been very receptive because ultimately, they want their advertising spend to be used more effectively and want to ensure more traction.”

Raed Zidan, Owner of Shock Middle East, added: “Two ads in a row provides a unique proposition for our listeners and business partners, and I congratulate the leadership team on this great initiative.”