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Shape of the day


NO LONGER FASHIONABLE is the analysis of the consumer based on how he spends his day, and what types of media he consumes and is exposed to as he goes about his activities from waking up to turning in for the night. From this, the media planner selects the appropriate placements for advertising messages.

This modeling of the shape of the day gave rise to such concepts as “prime time” (usually 6 to 10 p.m.) for TV to catch the consumer relaxing at home and ready for his television binge and getting a barrage of ad messages charged a premium for this time of the evening.

Not even the once “portable TV,” which was an appliance that sometimes accompanied luggage of a family going out of town, was envisioned to be small enough to put in the pocket. Yes, the third screen for watching content (after movies and television) is now the dominant player in shaping our day. The mobile phone and its small screen is transforming habits and the very concept of how messages reach us and when we choose to get them.

Anyway, the past 14 months, and perhaps another six more months at least, have bent and will continue to bend, the shape of our day. This is how it looks now.

The day begins with no rush. Upon waking, you check the phone (not the landline, silly) for messages and postings in the chat group. You answer queries and offer condolences and prayers to the family of yet another casualty.

After the morning chores, you get set for a virtual business meeting (or school) with your gadgets and headphones. Virtual background okay? There’s pencil and paper for notes and meeting ID and passcode to get back in case you’re accidentally cut off.

There’s no commute, except going from the bedroom to the “studio” corner of the house for the virtual set-up. So, you don’t see any billboards or out-of-home ads, except maybe the menu for the week on the ref magnet. As an aside, traditional billboards along main thoroughfares are priced by the volume of passing vehicular traffic (and the eyeballs inside the vehicles). The higher the volume, the pricier the ad space. Stalled traffic is a premium.

As to consumption of media content? There’s no waiting for prime time. Anytime is fine.

You can watch your subscribed movie on the big screen of the TV, with no commercials. Or be satisfied with your small screen phone. Studies show the small screen a foot away from your face is equivalent to a movie screen from the last balcony row. Anyway, your eyes can get twitchy afterwards.

Staying mostly at home for the whole day has bent the shape of your schedule. Sure, buying and banking moves are all remotely done from home. Except to get to an ATM to withdraw cash. Cashless culture? We’re not quite there yet.

If everybody is working from home, including you-know-who, how do we now send and receive messages from above or to each other? And how can the authorities compel people to stop giving away food without a license and exercising their community spirit? The root word in Latin for “community” is communis which means common or shared. The root word is used for another dreaded word associated with red tagging. Maybe, that vociferous police authority is merely being erudite in citing a shared etymology for two words that sound alike?

The shape of the day was a device for tracking where best to deliver messages and ideas as the consumer goes through his diurnal rhythm. Not only has that work routine changed but even the medium for delivering messages and ideas has shifted mostly to a single portable device that is always at hand. The consumer can then pick what messages to pay attention to and which ones to clear with a simple thumb motion. Anyway, the attention span for any content is shrinking to seconds, unless compelling or compelled.

More than the static concept of repetition and routine on how a day is mapped, the marketer or political campaigner has to deliver a compelling message or idea. It’s no longer a case of how one’s day is shaped. It’s now a matter of understanding what shapes our day… and what should not.

Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda


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