By Priyadarshini Narendra
Many years ago, while I was in business school in Europe, we were asked to paint a future scenario for media. One of the scenarios we came up with and were told was very fanciful, was one in which a group of people would sit in the same auditorium to watch a movie but each would hear it in the language of his or her choice. Well, guess what? It's 2015 and that doesn't seem quite so out there anymore.
There are certain changes in the media space that are reprogramming consumer behaviour quite radically and probably giving media planners nightmares as they think about these new patterns going mainstream. How ready are we for this new world?
The death of 'appointment viewing'
How many people actually saw the Arnab interview with Rahul Gandhi live versus how many watched a YouTube video days after the airing, due to social media chatter? Today, particularly among the digital natives and savvy consumers, there is no point to having a scheduled time to catch up with one's favourite shows -- far better to download/stream and watch at one's leisure. Many legal alternatives to enable this are present or in the works, giving consumers a freer handle on their own time. So how does an ad find the right target? Does the ad try and cover digital and offline media to the same extent? Or is it wiser to plan an online campaign that is so engrossing that viewers are actually willing to pay the connectivity charges involved in watching it or participating in it?
"The real question is for marketers and advertisers, media planners and researchers: are we ready?"
The death of the single screen
Today's consumer is on at least two screens, if not more, at one time. The TV is on but so is the mobile. Each ad break or slowdown in the action on the big screen is permission to dive further into the smaller one and engage in other conversations. Synchronised ad breaks across channels just end up putting the viewer off and he strolls out to grab a cup of tea until it's over. So how do you get undivided attention in the age of FOMO (fear of missing out)?
The death of patience
No one wants to watch content as it is doled out piecemeal by the channel owners. They much prefer binge-watching so they can get the whole story in one continuous flow, rather than dollop by dollop. Any external attempt to moderate what and how much the viewer is watching is resented. Globally, TV shows like House of Cards have released entire seasons at a go on Netflix, to much appreciation. So are we looking at catalogue viewing through online content aggregators as the way forward?
The death of contained viewing
Consumers are today watching alone in their living rooms but collectively experiencing the same shows by watching at the same time and actively conversing about them on social media. The experience is that much more magnified when you can share it. How can brands get in on this conversation, and more importantly, do it without interrupting or pissing off the consumer?
The death of family consensus and consumption
Individual choice reigns supreme. Given the plethora of screens available to engage with, each family member could be engaged with a very different piece of content. The teenager is viewing something on his iPad, the father is watching something on his mobile phone while the mother is tuned in to the television. So when a marketer plans a family-targeted ad, where does he place his bets?
The growth of mobile viewing
Lastly and most importantly -- the tiny elephant in the room -- everything has gone mobile. The mobile is the media conduit for television shows, movies, radio, newspaper content; what doesn't it do? But have media makers and marketers downsized their creative content to fit aptly onto a screen that small and for that level of erratic connectivity? Are they pursuing mobile and bigger screen strategies with equal intensity?
Some of the above scenarios only apply to a small slice of current Indian viewers. But given India's talent for leapfrogging generations of technology, they are not too far ahead of their time. The real question is for marketers and advertisers, media planners and researchers: are we ready?
Priyadarshini Narendra, VP, PQR, has spent a lifetime trying to figure out what makes people tick, a passion fortunately linked to her career. She enjoys decoding the cryptic puzzle of consumer behaviour to develop business and marketing strategy. An avid reader and enthusiastic public speaker, she is also a published fiction writer.