destination india

Sunday, January 15, 2006

of eyeballs and footfalls

This is the world of sellers – some sell us dreams, others sell us more tangible stuff that we can touch, feel and taste. To achieve these seemingly impossible tasks, there are agencies that have made it their business to snoop – direct snooping is not good manners, so they circumvent and extract information out of us in a round about way. We part with them unknowingly. Surprised? Well, all those TV spots that entice us to SMS instant replies tell a tale in themselves – the question is related to ascertain the popularity of the product which could be a batsman or a film star or a brand of toffee. The innocent response to the question indicates to the researchers the products that are the ‘in-thing’ and those that are on the way out.

In this context we come to the term ‘capturing eyeballs’ – obviously it translates into the viewership of the subject concerned. That is why automatic counters are placed in web pages – these give an idea of the traffic that passes through a particular web page. ‘Capturing eyeballs’ in this case would depend on the attractiveness of the page and the matter it contains. Similarly, asking viewers to SMS instant replies also adds up to the impact a product makes and gives a glimpse into the number of viewers who are watching it at the very moment. It seems there was this ad of a product that was aired simultaneously on all important channels at the prime time – the intention was to capture as many eyeballs as possible and leave very little to chance.

‘Footfalls’ is a comparatively new term to me. I came across it in a report on the New Delhi Metro. One sentence goes – ‘….That is why, though the station (Kashmere Gate) sees a lot of footfalls, its revenue collection is lesser…..’

Keeping a count of heads is not new – I remember way back in the sixties, the guard at the USIS library on S N Banerji Road, Calcutta, used to hold a counter in his palm. As someone entered the library, he would press the manual button and record the event. The intention was to gauge the popularity of the setup. Keeping track of feet seems to be a new fad!


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