By Trilokjit Sengupta

trilokjit sengupta metal communicationsThe crawling internet mobs are at it again. Moving from one place to the other. Sharing, talking, conversing. Rohit tells you where he went for dinner. Harleen exclaims in joy at getting the new iPhone. Cantyll trashes a wellanticipated film on Friday night. Yash proclaims his love for a Single Malt he hasn’t even tasted yet.

And Anindya sports his impossibly high score on an app developed by a Hair Salon. Even as we speak, millions of these individuals are busy tweeting, publishing blogs, making new ones, writing scraps, uploading videos, maintaining their respective inboxes, watching old TV shows and connecting with people. They are all opinionated. No one on the internet is a pushover. They all want to talk. And they have devised ingenious ways for you to listen. Or track and map how you are listening to them.

Some are also claiming to have found true love. In most mature economies of the world, brands have gone the extra distance to meet with these teeming masses. They’ve learnt to be there. To connect. To engage. To entertain. All in an effort to build a relationship that sets up the ultimate platform that no CFO can scorn, to sell. In India, however, we have been caught on the backfoot. No advertising agency is equipped to harness its full potential. It is arrogant and plain stupid to not think beyond traditional forms of media.

But the main reason remains the fact that new media confuses us. The new sentence thrown around is “Lets build a Facebook App!” What does it do? We don’t know. Why should people use the app? Ask the question and we hum and haw. Point is we don’t know. And for every one app that gets sticky, we try and emulate the same. There’s still an uncomfortable feeling around digital. There has been no investment in learning. Hence, no one quite knows what to do with it. We deal with it at a callous macro level.

Seldom going beyond animated web banners and streaming television commercials in a small corner of a website. Enough time has been spent, however, debating the merits of the same. For starters, it is a whole lot cheaper. And we all know, if intelligently executed, what it can deliver. How many forms of media allow you to track every single individual exposed to relevant content. Not just that, how many can actually tell you for how long the contact took place? And this simple data has the potential to change everything.

These are not debatable NRS, IRS or TRP figures. Its efficiency is perhaps more accurately measurable than any other forms of media today It can be used to improve product offering, help save costs and finally help brands evolve to a new level of relationship with the consumer. Building a bond It takes guts, true.

But it is also common sense. Where else would you find such an involved audience just waiting for you to talk to? And it’s not just limited to the computer Today, Nokia has stopped calling its products mobile phones. Instead, they are mobile devices. Little magic boxes that tell you whether it will rain today, give you the latest stock information, display freshly uploaded YouTube videos and can also be used as a telephone. An audience that is captivated by technology. Perhaps even captive by it. And it is simple, really.

Yes, it needs a quantum leap in mindset. But mostly, it challenges our own inertia. Today there are complete web based services that have these numbers. And they are crying out to us. We can tell you all about them, they are shouting. We can tell you where they live, what they eat, what music they like, whether they are gay or straight, where they would like to go on their next holiday. People who might be interested in what you say.

If only we’d listen.