"Radio is a love story"

In an exclusive interview with Werbewoche.ch, Ralf Brachat, Managing Director of Swiss Radioworld, shares his fascination for radio and his passion for audio mediation. He provides insights into the world of radio, digitalization and future trends. The topics range from radio spots to Spotify and in-game advertising, with Brachat emphasizing the importance of creativity behind the development of audio advertising.


Werbewoche.ch: How did you discover your passion for audio marketing and what prompted you to become active in this field?

Ralf Brachat: Yes, it really is a kind of love story. I previously worked at Warner Music for 15 years in the music label division. There, we sent the latest singles to the radios every week. As a result, I had already built up a close relationship with radio stations. The hope was always that the radio stations would play our singles and thus get good promotion for the new albums. Then, by chance, the opportunity arose to take on the position of Managing Director at Swiss Radioworld. I didn't have to think about it for long.


Do you remember a campaign from your early days?

Yes, not necessarily the very first one, but one that was a long time ago. It was a campaign for the Zurich Transport Association. The idea was to inform tourists on the streetcar that the streetcar was two minutes late. The Americans could hardly believe that such a minimal delay was being pointed out and laughed their heads off. This was a playful way for the ZVV to point out how punctual our public transport is. And that is indeed the case compared to other countries. The campaign was creative and well executed, but unfortunately it was not repeated.


A lot has changed in the constantly evolving media landscape. What changes in audio marketing do you think have had the biggest impact?

There have been many changes. Ten years ago, when I started here, we were selling 15- or 20-second radio spots. In the meantime, there has been an enormous digitalization. People now often listen to music or radio with headphones. We no longer just sell radio spots, but also offer extensions into the digital audio sector. Radio stations also have web channels, and there are platforms such as Spotify or Tunein. And we have also aggregated an audio network and podcast network, which we can advertise. Depending on the target group and advertising objective, we can make different offers or complement one with the other.


Swiss Radioworld is part of the Goldbach marketing universe. How does the integration work at campaign level and what advantages do your customers gain from it?

Yes, we are indeed. We can benefit from shared resources and are present at various Goldbach locations. Swiss Radioworld is now also based at Goldbach's premises. The exchange and cooperation with the other independent units is very positive. We have joint marketing days where we invite agencies and present all media at the same time. . This enables the agencies to benefit from comprehensive know-how at short notice.


Are there particularly successful combinations of audio with other media forms in advertising?

Studies show that audio works particularly well with images. Especially in combination with TV, during peak times in the evening, audio achieves a high impact in the morning during "drive time", i.e. when people are sitting in the car listening to the radio. When the commercial is heard via the audio signal, the image that was seen the previous evening appears in the mind. The combination of audio and image significantly increases the impact of the message.


Which product categories are considered classics in the field of audio and audio advertising because they are particularly suitable for this media form?

In addition to branding, radio can be used particularly well as a traffic tool. We traditionally have customers in the furniture sector, but also in the retail sector for promotions and in the automotive sector. The availability of cars has returned to normal after a brief interruption in radio advertising. Radio is ideal for classic sales. It is not uncommon for campaigns to have to be stopped because the offer is sold out.


And in the image area?

Audio is also very effective in the image sector. Various components play a role here, especially recognition value. Brands can effectively implement both promotional and branding advertising with an audio logo, a consistent voice and creative approaches.


Although your brand "Swiss Radioworld" refers to radio, the offer seems to go beyond that. Can you explain which components make up your offering?

Our audio business comprises various components. The traditional radio business is still the main driver. But we also have a Spotify platform in the digital sector, an audio network, a podcast network and, more recently, an in-game business where audio advertising can be placed on mobile games, with the advantage that the game is not interrupted.


In-game advertising sounds interesting. Can you explain this in more detail?

When people use their cell phones and play games on the train, on the streetcar or at home, for example, we can now address them with audio spots. So if someone is playing a game on their cell phone, they can listen to audio spots without their game being interrupted.


The latest figures from the IGM Digimonitor show that the popularity of classic audio continues to grow. How do you see the future of this form of media?

We are delighted with these figures. Over 6 million Swiss listen to the radio regularly, and in the last measurement we even gained 100,000 new listeners. Audio is consumed via a wide variety of distribution channels, be it via TV, DAB, Internet, CarPlay and more. The appeal of audio and radio remains strong and we believe that the boom in this area will continue.


At our last meeting in August, during your party on Lake Zurich, you were optimistic about the second half of the year. Has that proved to be the case?

It was a complicated year, not just for us at Swiss Radiworld, but for everyone. But our hopes, especially for the last quarter, have actually been fulfilled. Among other things, the automotive industry returned to radio and supply bottlenecks have been overcome, to name just one positive example. There are many positive signs that characterize the start of the new year.


Are there new industries entering audio advertising?

Yes, and I'm particularly pleased about that. At the moment, we are talking to many customers from different sectors about the possibilities of radio who have not been radio customers for a long time. We are therefore delighted to have a number of new customers who have discovered the power of radio.


According to Digimonitor, the average age structure of audio listeners is 51 years old, but many young people also listen to audio. What strategies are you pursuing to reach the younger target group?

The radio stations are responsible for this, but we integrate it with social media, the internet and other platforms. Radio is not just a medium, but also a brand. We appeal to different age groups via various channels, including Spotify and in-game advertising.


Your study shows that digital audio is used for activation purposes. Why is radio particularly effective here?

In addition to radio, digital audio is also extremely activating. Our study with "Activ Fitness" shows that digital audio increases awareness and successfully sells subscriptions. The classic audio spot before the stream demonstrably achieves a strong effect and enjoys incredible attention.


How important is the creation of audio advertising?

The audio logo or audio design is crucial. Advertisers should plan for the long term to develop effective audio logos. The selection of voice actors also plays a role, as Ikea shows with its instantly recognizable voice with a Swedish accent.


Are there any particularly bad examples?

A client from the automotive industry was an example of audio advertising that is better left alone. Each spot was designed differently, with no recognition value: one time in High German, the next time in Swiss German, then a woman and the next time a man. This means that the great potential of recurring radio campaigns is not being exploited.


Is there a benchmark for successful advertising?

Ikea with its Swedish accent and Hornbach with its catchy slogan are strong examples. A few words can have a powerful effect.


Finally, what's next on the Swiss Radioworld program?

We are investing heavily in technology. Following the programmatic bookability of digital audio, the next step is to make linear radio programmatically bookable.

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