Sunday, May 3, 2009

When I spoke to the whole of Namma Bengaluru...

Rajiv S Perumal
About a couple of weeks(21st April 2009) ago I got a chance to write an article on Elections 2009 in India which was published in India's leading newspaper 'The Times of India'. Just wanted to share the article which gave me my one day to fame. :)

The e factor of Elections '09


Just when you thought you’ve had enough of banners, flags, pamphlets and the like, here comes another blow for all netizens who thrive on the Internet and cringe at the mere mention of politics. I’m hinting at the various social media advertising initiatives, which one has been forced to endure, with the coming of Election 2009.

There are user profiles made on networking sites like Orkut, Facebook and Twitter by numerous politicians which are updated on a regular basis. Not to mention the BJP ads featuring in Orkut. That’s not where it ends, we also have text messages pushed to mobile phones throughout the country. To add to it, tech-savvy states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra & Goa have people receiving auto-dialler calls. If you thought this is an invasion of privacy, then I wonder how you would react to Bluetooth downloads sent to over millions of people every day, in strategically chosen areas, that have high footfalls.

S.Niranjan Kumar, an engineering student from Bangalore says, “I hate the fact that whenever I open my Orkut homepage, which is customized to suit my needs, I see a banner ad canvassing a party below my friend list.”

Priyanka Shetty, a techie from Bangalore says, “I don’t see how social media advertising helps, because I surely wouldn’t consider changing my vote after reading ads online. Besides, I’m sure this would be the view of any educated netizen”

In contrast, there exist companies like BuzzGain which have been involved intracking traffic and monitoring webpages, who point out that ‘Advani’s website has about 25,000 hits per day and Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram are among the most frequently mentioned names in various blogs’. Youngsters are under the notion that election campaigning this year has an online arm to it.

With the number of internet users being only a small percentage of the Indian population, I don’t subscribe to the opinion that social media advertising will have a telling effect on the upcoming elections. Yet, the million-dollar question still remains, “Will this response to online advertising have an impact on the voting pattern?” Only time will tell!

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