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Consumption of real-time information will only go up

02-January-2013
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Consumption of real-time information will only go up

When was the last time that a statement from a government authority came in the form of a tweet and not in the form of a press release? Well, it now seems the norm and perfectly acceptable. No wonder that several of our old politicians are now running around either to make themselves tech- or tweet-savvy or who knows have someone constantly manage a ghost account for them.

With the equivalent of a ‘Friday release’, obviously driven by the ‘common people’, the entertainment value of news seems to have shot up in 2012 by leaps and bounds. It is now not so much as coming to know what happened yesterday through news but actively seeking out what is going on right now or might happen this evening. Obviously, television news channels would seem to like this turn of events but what makes it more interesting is that the consumption of this kind of news on the virtual medium and its different form of expressions is only going to go up.

A 30-minute news segment is 90 per cent about debating a single issue and 10 per cent about giving other interesting news. The 90 per cent part fuels virtual activity where people are consumed to tweet, read updates and log on to their tablets and mobiles. The omnipresence of something happening is an opportunity for the advertiser coming out in a big way in 2012 but still far away from satisfying the numerical urges of the planners sitting in the companies.

One of the key challenges is that the pace at which adoption is growing is far more than the pace with which accepted benchmarks can be established to convince brands to put bigger money. It is quite understandable that consumers are consuming a lot more news content and also general content on their tablets and mobiles than on their laptops. They are consuming because they are on the move and the common people keep creating news on the move. If you use the laptop, metaphorically you need to sit down and open the machine on your lap and then you are no more moving. Advertisers want to make use of this phenomenon and there is no better year than this as an example. The metrics needed to measure these are still new and we need to find out a way to measure quality of engagement beyond the routines of frequency and reach.

Our friends in the west are already looking at printed news paper as fossils and paid subscriptions on the tablet is fast becoming the norm. Currently, for us a lot of the news apps are free but they only give selective news. I have had people tell this year that paid subscriptions with more detailed and special interest news gives you the power to refresh as many times in a day to keep updated. For advertisers, each refresh is an opportunity but to be done discreetly.

Coming back to the tweet question where we were debating whether tweets can be used by news media to make money. The answer is that tweets work as the spark plugs driving people to other media with the tweet content and then the whole ecosystem can see money. The first in the food chain are invariably the seeders who do it in a managed manner or in the more usual case these days where an afternoon tweet war driver viewership for night time news. The food chain has only become more robust in 2012 and with 2014 coming, we can expect a lot more pyrotechnics everywhere.

I wish to conclude this piece with a small anecdote which seems totally anachronistic as of today but captures the same spirit which has not changed through times. In the 90s as a brand manager, when we had to wait for our turn outside the board room to make our presentations, along with the slides there used to be someone with a radio on low volume as the one pre condition that the famous managing director had was to first share the latest cricket score before  starting. Well, those challenges of following online cricket on your palm have long been solved but if our cricket remains what it was in 2012, the news itself will not be worthy!

The author is Managing Director, Nivea India

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