roi on digital marketing campaigns

Measuring Brand Lift Online From Traditional Marketing Campaigns

Tracking Offline Marketing Campaigns Via Online Analytics Tools

We see it littered on every billboard and cried out from every TV Channel. The ubiquitous Facebook Icon & website, unheard of marketing tools even a decade ago, now play a supporting role in all marketing & communication in the country. In fact, in case of Suzuki Kazashi launch in Pakistan, digital media was used as the main communication and sales channel. A first for the country.

Already more than 10 million cookies a week (source: Google) are now accessing the web in Pakistan (60% mobile) with average media consumption estimated between 1-3 hours daily. Over 19 million Facebook accounts later and when even local publishers like Tune.pk now serve well over 13 million sessions a month from the country, it befuddles the mind as to why despite accounting for higher consumption patterns than most traditional channels, it is still considered a secondary ‘good to have’ channel. Core reason being that both marketers and agencies are lacking the means to demonstrate impact in quantitative terms to cross channel effects and digital marketing ROI.

The real value of correlations analyses can be tapped when they’re based on user’s individual customer journeys, ideally across devices and channels.If lacking the means to demonstrate impact in quantitative terms to cross channel effects and digital marketing ROI are what’s standing in the way of more investments in the channels, than the following methodologies based on organizational capabilities and digital maturity level of agencies and marketers will help bring the value of the digital channels to the forefront

Thus the following provides directional road maps towards attaining ‘attribution’ nirvana.

Digitally Aware Marketers

For The Digitally Aware

Defined as marketers who focus their energies on social channels and on an Informational web presence. KPIs set as traffic, CTR and social engagements (likes, comments, etc). Little or no strategic objectives tied to marketing objectives.

Direct Traffic

For advertisers with at a minimal of a website and a Facebook page, the simplest measure of efficacy of traditional media online is ‘Direct Traffic’. This is the traffic defined as where a customer typed the URL directly to the website or found their way to your social channels via social search.

A simple and ubiquitous tool like Google Analytics will show you if direct traffic correlates to the timing of your offline campaign such as TV spots, a print ad or new billboards. You can be sure that these extra visits can be attributed to the offline channels.

HashTracks

#Hashes or hashtags as they’re also known, can also prove useful in tracking keywords important to business such as brand mentions or to the campaign at large. Hashes can be created for brands, events and campaigns and are easily tracked using the standard search tools available on all social channels.

e.g. we see that the Pepsi ‘LiveItabhi’ is being shared on Twitter.com as per the example below:

Pepsi Live it Abhi Campaign

 

Track Brand Mentions of your website made by others.

Traditional marketing stimulates consumer behavior towards digital channels in Pakistan. It is logical, after all, that a popular brand, news or campaign would have people talking about it online than one that is not popular. Popular campaigns covered by online media blogs to the latest lawn clothing, online buzz and conversations, all can be measured even by those not savvy to analytics. Using Reputation & Keyword Monitoring Software e.g. brands can determine as to what drives ‘conversations’ and the ‘influencers’ in this regard.

Some data from Pakistan e.g. for Hubco’s recent announcement of ‘earnings up 62% news’ drove the topic in the ‘social space’ by those following the company. Some data captured from the time included:

hubco brand mentions

Whilst this on its own is rudimentary, pulling the data into an analytics engine revealed some interesting insights e.g. Express Tribune alone generated over 300,000 earned media impressions for Hubco by tweeting about the news whilst bloggers like Umer Hafeez contributed over 10,000 free earned impressions for Hubco.

hubco influencers data

We can also see the rise of the conversations and the Keywords which drove the maximum interest of these social-ites.

hubco brand mentions data

Brand or Campaign mentions on their own of course do not tell the whole story. However marketers should think ‘buzz’ as a concept beyond traditional channels and aim to create and track those online as well. A few guidelines which might help your content to go ‘Viral’ – Content should either be Funny, Highly Charged (think plunking heart-strings) or plainly Inspirational. Also it should not be ‘In your face’ or overtly promotional. It also helps if you ‘Seed’ the content online.

 

digitally activated marketers

For The Digitally Activated

Defined as marketers who have moved beyond social into content marketing, CRM and use their websites beyond the “digital brochure” level. Strategic objectives determine KPIs and measured towards marketing objectives.

For marketers who have had some experience of working with digital channels, can move forward towards integration of both online and offline channels. Some of the ways to make digital work to measure offline data includes:

Site Surveys

Site surveys are becoming an increasingly popular means of evaluating the efficacy of advertising, online experiences, customer satisfaction and request for feedback/improvements based on real visitor data. Foodpanda.pk e.g. actively surveys its digital audiences for channel efficacy and sales ROI.

Site Surveys

These will also help gauge ‘Brand Lift’ defined as the “increase in positive interaction with and/or perception of a brand after post-exposure”. Success metrics which make up Brand Lift such as unaided brand recall, aided brand recall, brand favorability, brand trust, likelihood of visitation to the online/offline store, likelihood of purchase, and likelihood to recommend can also be surveyed from online audiences and if you’re digital commerce ready, easily tied to sales.

Site Surveys NPS Score

 

Custom Landing Pages

One of the best means of tracking offline promotions online is via the use of custom landing pages specifically created for offline marketing campaigns e.g. Pepsi could have created www.pepsi.com/liveitabhi (they didn’t) instead of sending TV audiences directly to www.pepsi.com (they didn’t do that either).

Custom landing pages focus the content and the audience’s attention around the incoming visitor’s profiles. E.g. TV audiences can be directed to visit www.pepsi.com/liveitabhi whilst outdoor audiences can be directed to www.pepsi.com/liveitoutdoors. Each page will have content specific to its incoming traffic. This allows advertisers to segment audiences (and efficacy) even better.  Coca Cola being more proactive however seems to have created a small landing page for 100 years of coke campaign http://www.coca-cola.com.pk/.

Meezan Bank for its recent ‘Riba Say Azadi’ Campaign used a custom landing page to capture all leads specific to the online audiences.

Meezan Bank Riba Say Azadi Campaign landing page

A good rule of thumb is to keep custom page URLs short. Typing out complicated URLs especially on mobile phones is an impossible feat.

Redirected Domains

Another means to track offline promotions is through domains specifically created to redirect visitors to (ideally) custom landing pages or your main website. Using the same example above, Pepsi Pakistan creates www.liveitabhi.com and advertises it on traditional channels. A person typing this URL automatically redirects to www.pepsi.com. With the unique URL, marketers can thus easily track the audiences from traditional media referrals independently via their analytics tools.

Customized Discount Codes

Custom discount codes are another popular solution towards tracking offline marketing campaigns. Simple enough to implement, the advertiser can places a customized discount code in each channel. MI Digital e.g. promises anyone who uses the code AURORA15 for 15% off your order for a website if you send us a query from our website www.midigital.co. Unique codes in each city area or medium can help track offline efficacy.

 

running app

For Digitally Addicted Marketers

Defined as marketers who use data, analytics, and marketing-automation platforms. Have a digital strategy in place that covers integrated and multi-channel marketing. Is looking to or has already integrated customer services / CRM, sales, and inventory management capabilities with their digital solutions.

 

For the truly connected, the offline and online worlds are merely part of the same equation. Such ‘unicorns’ epitomize, optimize and use the full potential of digital channels to their organization’s advantage. Some of the manners this is possible include:

Co-Relations Analysis

With the second-screen device usage going up, especially during ‘national events’ like ‘Cricket World Cup’, marketers can optimize TV spends with the same accurate granularity as digital.

Using very sophisticated analytics solutions, advertisers can overlay the TV media spots data on a minute by minute basis over the analytics data gathered from all channels allowing them to see the incremental lift whilst unearthing spot opportunities for greater efficacy both immediately and over the long term period. Marketers can segment based on:

Activity Type Data: Search increases by brand and category keywords, Direct and Call Ins.

Device Type Data: Data by Desktop PCs, Mobile and Tablets.

Other Pairings Data: Mobile / ISP network and program, TVC Versioning Efficacy, TVC Length Efficacy, Day-parting data and even geography can be co-related.

With digital commerce integrated, the marketer’s actual conversion and sales data can also be fed to this TV attribution data set to provide ROI metrics.

 

Rise in Branded & Related Searches

Searches on brand name terms or campaign searches correlate rather nicely with offline media. This is especially true with a campaign running with a unique slogan which helps in tracking these searches. E.g. in the example below, the traffic from the Branded Keyword ‘Meat One’ searches during our last campaign increased by 235% in March – April, 2015 and ‘Direct Traffic’ to the site increased by 259% during the same period.

Google Trends Meat One Data

Source: Google Trends

Google trends showcases the data perfectly, showing how the brand got a lift of 13% in its branded Keyword search online during the campaign period.

Cross Channel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs that are designed to work and reward cross-channel are ready to be launched in Pakistan. Such loyalty cards will give advertisers the possibility to track sales from a micro-segment of one irrespective of channel behavior. Such unique identifiers when connected to actions online and offline will provide a rich source of behavioral data that can be used to customize offerings personalized to customers wherever they are.

For Big Data Users

Linking Audience to IDs

Whilst this would be out of the scope of the article and the general populace of advertisers, as a marketer with Big Data you will have the ability to provide individual IDs of your customers (that are already associated with their online behavior), along with their Personal Information (name and address) to data management platforms such as BlueKai.

Those DMPs overlay demographic data from their databases onto those names/individual IDs and provide them back to you.

Running attribution on this data will than segment the audiences and can help determine customer’s lifetime value, highest propensity to convert and optimization of tactics and channels on efficiency basis.

The time is drawing near where due to the ever increasing fragmentation, the need for maximizing overall ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) will become the Pakistani’s advertiser’s first priority. There is now a real need to go beyond CTR and understand digital media channels better with such cross channel attribution initiatives along with the possibilities and the efficiencies to be gained for the future. For advertisers, It is now time to mix-up their love affair with traditional with a strong dose of digital.

 

Don’t forget MI Digital offers all these services and more. Contact us to help power your digital brand. 

 

Note: This article first appeared in Aurora, Jul-August, 2015 Issue. 

SDE logo

Digital Marketing: Inbound Marketing Via Content Hub To Gain Competitive Advantage

MI Digital Creates New Content Marketing Hub for Managing Consumer Engagement For SDE.com

Developing relationships over a long-term with today’s consumers is now complex, now more than ever before. The powerful web search, with publishing on social and social networks along with tools for filtering capabilities have placed very powerful tools in the hands of consumers. The buyer’s journey today is non-linear – as shown by this graph below:

Customer journey Cap Gemini

Consumers today can easily find information, compare pricing across multiple retailers and read up on social recommendations about a large number of competitors immediately and from the comfort of their home.

Thus today’s consumers are now savvier – they are researchers, publishers, a reviewer, a vocal influence, and ultimately the final authority and expert on any manner of product or service. This “ease” by which information can be shared across the web, including mobile and social touch points, has required enterprises to try to influence consumer behavior by increasing the amount of content.

SDE (Staff Development Educators) is one such company whom MI Digital helped to launch its content hub targetting educators and experts.

SDE believs that “educators have the most important job in the world” which is why SDE is dedicated to empowering extraordinary educators with research-based, innovative, and rigorous professional development that’s practical, motivating, and fun.

Their goal is to “help create extraordinary classrooms that prepare students for the demands of the 21st century.”

Inbound marketing, social media marketing or content marketing is the process of creating quality content, which is than well published and later on promoted across the channels. The idea is to drive the inbound benefit through sharing and search /link-building and gain social signals for search engine optimisation.

SDE as an objective wanted to unearth their Knowledge Base and build up the brand via a content hub targetting teachers, academics, principals and stake holders.

The solution devised by MI Digital included:

  1. Supports videos from YouTube
  2. Featured a rating system for reviewing books.
  3. It uses the best SEO practices
  4. The admin panel is fast, simple, and easy to use.
  5. Flexible layouts for every template
  6. Advanced block system
  7. Popular posts
  8. Unique article system which ensured that the same article was not listed twice in the home page.
  9. Pagination of articles.
  10. Social counters to track the shares and comments on the site and off the site.
  11. Special templates for posts and pages.
  12. Youtube / Vimeo Video Playlists.
  13. Customizable Side Bars

and more.

 

Edited by the experts at SDE, the content will comprise of written articles, posts, videos, infographics, book reviews, latest events and even small tips and reports. SDE’s content hub will feature up-to-date insights from experts in the industry including promoting their events and covering them as well.

The content hub strategy is is part of a growing industry trend for organisations to create and publish own content, using their latent knowledge and expertise to shape reputation and brand building.

Vern Nicholson, Director of MI Digital, USA, said: “We’re not the first to launch a publishing platform, but we believe we’ve created a look and feel that grabs people’s attention. SDE’s Content Hub is all about generating content which our audience is interested in, and to engage people in conversation.”

SDE’s content hub is fully responsive and built for smartphones and tablets. MI Digital has always recognised that content with strategy is the lifeblood of all digital marketing and today’s inbound solution’s launch of the hub enables us to let our client’s continue to connect to their customers in a fresh and relevant way.

An understanding of the content marketing hub is below:

in bound marketing process

mobile marketing

The ‘Sell-Phone’ Revolution – Mobile Marketing Pakistan

Marketers Need To Change How They Think Of Mobile As A Marketing Medium

An interesting thing happened to me whilst shopping the other day. Indulging in the environment as a bored-husband is most oft forced to do whilst the wife haggles with the sales person for the 20th time, a small artificial jewelry store caught my attention for what the shopkeeper was doing. Whilst talking to his female customers, he was also constantly sending pictures of the jewelry they had favorited to their mobile phones via Bluetooth. The chatter amongst the young females grew even more ecstatic when he decided to send the pictures of the stock he did not have at the shop and had reserved for his ‘special’ clients whom he informed them he consistently communicated with on ‘Whatsapp’, a leading OTT (Over the Top) Messenger which allows two people with the same app to send messages, videos, photos, etc to each other. An introduction to being on his WhatsApp list immediately followed with exchange of mobile numbers and a promise to send pictures of his upcoming ‘Turkish’ inventory within the week. He also demonstrated how if any of the customers should need any piece of jewelry or liked any jewelry at some other shop, to snap a picture and send it to him via the OTT along with the price and he would find and match or give a lower price if he has it in stock too, a brilliant example of ‘customer lock-in’ and the usage of the power of mobile communication for sales and customer service.

Once a niche channel relegated to plumbers electricians and most often scammers, mobile marketing has gone mainstream in a big way, graduating from SMS Spam and often questionable quality of the products being marketed to being a bonafide contender for marketer’s budgets, duking it out in the media channels ring against the best available. Marketers too are taking more interest at optimizing their traditional and digital campaigns by integrating mobile into the mix.

Mobile Marketing – An Overview

Mobile may be called the 4th screen globally, but it is fast becoming the first screen in Pakistan. Compared to the 20 million+ TV sets in Pakistan, we have over 60 million phones in the country and if the FB stats alone are taken as a leading indicator over 5.6m people are currently accessing FB on mobile devices which can be broadly be categorized as 2.4 million users on Android devices, 700,000 iOS users, the more ‘asprirational’ segment, 132,000 RIM possibly corporate users and 100,000 Windows Phone OS based users usually young audiences with the rest falling into ‘other basic phones’. This is out of the estimated 12-15 million users of mobile internet in Pakistan. Compared to 5 years ago when there was hardly any penetration of mobile internet in the country, the growth is phenomenal.

However as mobile internet access grows, and more people use their phones to go online, the rules for marketing will change yet again. Unlike traditional media channels which can be easily ignored / blocked or even traditional digital channels on PCs which require you to pick up a device or boot a device, mobile is a personalized one-person channel which is always within arm’s reach, a highly addictive channels which has developed a psychological problem ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’ which so many people suffer from that it’s even gotten its own nickname ‘Vibranxiety’. With such an intimate channel, a traditional mindset of generating consistent interruptions will mean annoyed customer who very quickly will take steps to find you and block you and getting blocked from a mobile customer’s device is fast becoming a block for life. From a personal story, I got rid of the telco that decided to SMS me consistently at 2 am in the morning. Incidentally Call & SMS blockers are also amongst the top 500 downloaded Android apps in Pakistan.

Thus the core aspect of the mobile communication should be that the customer comes willing via – Choice of Opt In, Controlled Opt-out and Content – Entertainment, Information or Interactivity.

Mobile Marketing – Best Practices

anne french kareena whats in sliderOne of the recent case studies that proved this was the use of the mobile medium as an engagement tool was Pfizer’s ‘Anne French’ who decided to test the mobile waters with a slider game designed around their brand ambassador Kareena Kapoor. Promoted via a contest, Anne French asked its users to compete to be the ‘What’s In’ Queen of the game’s leaderboard. The game was made available on iOS and Android mobile platforms and was also designed for and integrated on Facebook as well. First time in Pakistan, web audiences and mobile audiences got to compete with each other on the same leaderboard. The results in terms of engagement proved to be fantastic. Promoted via FB only the app was for a time the amongst the top 50 apps downloaded in the Google Play Store and current stats show the app having been downloaded in the 1000-5000 category as well as engaging audiences on FB tremendously. It also generated some positive WOMM from leading media blogs in the country.

It can also be said that mobile marketing as a stand-alone media will fail greatly. Integration with channels and opt-in are the keys which will unlock the customer’s heart for the brand. As demonstrated by Unilever’s Supreme ‘Sonakshi ko Manao’ / Supreme ‘Healthy Hai’ campaign, the 360 mass media campaign drove users to the phone to ‘convince’ Sonakshi that Supreme is not only tasty but also healthy. It is estimated that 500,000 to 600,000 users participated in the campaign. Similarly along with other companies and brands such as Nestle Milo and Engro Foods who have shifted to eliciting entries via SMS on Short Codes for lucky draw promotions, Unilever too promoted their latest Magnum – Mercedes Promotion on traditional but drove traffic to their SMS service whereby users after enjoying a Magnum bar could send off the code printed on the stick to a Short Code and get entered into a lucky draw for the Mercedes.

Also if you think bombarding consumers with one way push messages will get their attention, you’re right. But it’s not the kind of attention that will bring you sales. Secondly, SMS / Text is a limited opportunity to connect emotionally with the audience. Writing Glug Glug, Crunch, Aaaah! Is not as engaging as as seeing a person with a can of their favorite beverage whilst eating a pack of favorite chips. That said, stories and interactivity do captivate us especially on a screen which is limited in terms of multimedia capabilities. P&G “MAA’ campaign, an adaption of the TV campaign, used this medium to ask people to send in stories about their mothers and also aired the 10 best ones each week on TV. Sprite Cricket Next. Used the medium for recruiting young cricketing hopefuls from around the country for the campaign. Hundreds of thousands were given a chance to get coached by cricket legends and then compete with the best. Both used ‘Pring’, a mobile social network as a platform.

Thus it can be said that marketers rather than continuing with traditional approaches, require unique new ways of thinking from now only. Mobile marketing is still in its early stages but it’s growing and enabling everything from Live TV (amongst top 100 apps downloaded in Pakistan), our police force (Police officers can share real time information on crimes via SMS services) to utilities such as Groupic which allows the photographer to be part of the picture.

With the rise of faster data technologies in Pakistan (3G coming in 2014) we will be moving away from an ‘impressions’ and ‘exposure’ based worlds into a world of engagement, fun, interactivity and brand as a channel / media company. Already the ‘Finger Democracy’ of the youth, (SMS is the youth’s preferred channel of communication) and the rise of smart phones (mostly Android) at lower and lower priced thresholds are bringing in more and more free content and entertainment ensuring the exclusion of all other media out there.

For Marketers, the key takeaway should be to be experimental in their approach to this very personalized advertising vehicle. Given the ubiquity and always-on nature of the channel with its hundreds of formats and possibilities it is wise to implement controlled trials to determine how your audience behaves on the channel and over time build up a list of key success factors reflecting the stage your consumer has reached in the mobile adoption cycle and in the purchasing process. Make no mistake, it’s not a cell-phone revolution which is coming soon, it’s a SELL-Phone revolution which will change everything as you know it.

First published in the November-December 2013 issue, Dawn, Aurora.
http://aurora.dawn.com/2013/11/02/the-sell-phone-revolution/

 

storytell_image_web
Brand Story Telling

If a brand story can’t grab the intended audience and hold their attention, it’s either not worth telling or it’s not being told in the right way. What makes a brand story compelling is generally a combination of factors—subject matter, words, imagery, sound and others—all working together to create an experience in the minds of readers, viewers or listeners.

Audience-Measurement

Digital Audience Measurement In Pakistan

“Since the beginning of radio, the broadcaster has been interested in how the owner of a receiver reacts to the programs presented over the air. Some of the questions to which the broadcaster, whether he is an educator or advertiser, is anxious to secure the answers are as follows:

  • When does the listener use his receiver?
  • For how long a period does he use it?
  • To what station or stations does he listen?
  • Who listens (sex, age, economic and educational level)?
  • What does he do while the receiver is in operation?
  • What does he do as a result of the program?
  • What are his program preferences?

—Frank N. Stanton (1935)”

 

Digital Audience MeasurementFrank Stanton, who later became president of CBS, wrote those words in his doctoral dissertation. Little has changed since that time. The media has undergone great transformations, but the basic research question—a need to know the audience—has been one of the most enduring features of the media industry.

The need for measuring audiences online has been a recent trend in our country. Once the domain of techies, it is fast became a need for marketers and advertisers for evaluation of their digital spends. Ever since the inception of internet in Pakistan, there have been multiple challenges to address the issue of measurement. The biggest challenge namely being that the internet is HUGE and the rapid growth that it has seen in Pakistan renders any assumption about the data gathered of its size, pretty much useless.

The second problem we had been facing since inception of the net has been to chart the growth in subscribers and the services they subscribe to. With exponential growth any information regarding visitors access is rendered useless with the introduction of new services and changing tastes online due to new users. This is a challenge even more so when we think in terms of  the fact there are no geographical boundaries on the net. Thus how do we define ‘access in Pakistan’.

Third and not the least are the lack of standards and impartial definitions that still continue to create measurement problems in Pakistan e.g. just over a decade ago the standard on which audiences were measured was HITS (the number of client (browser) requests) to a ‘website’ (after all Facebook wasn’t around then). This was a reasonable method initially, since a web site than often consisted of a single HTML file. However, with the introduction of images in HTML, and web sites that spanned multiple HTML files, this count became less useful, since each client (browser) would now send hundreds of hits on every page load.

These problems are still present to date and attempts to measure audience of Pakistani online advertising campaigns or digital platforms have not been consistent or transparent enough to provide reliable standard metrics. Understanding how well your brand is doing is about more than clicks and page views. It’s about the audience and that is where the troubles start. Take the metric of ‘new visitor’ e.g. there is really no such thing as a new visitor when you are considering a web site from an ongoing perspective. If a visitor makes their first visit on a given day and then returns to the web site on the same day they are both a new visitor and a repeat visitor for that day. So if we look at them as an individual which are they? The answer has to be both, so the definition of the metric is at fault.

Online measurement methodologies in Pakistan also have a problem on how the data is gathered. One way e.g. is through reading cookies (small text files saved on computers with unique individual IDs) which gathers data on the user from site to site. This only works on ‘persistence’ basis. When the user deletes this cookie from the browser, the user will appear as a first-time visitor at their next point where the cookie is read. Without a persistent and unique visitor id, conversions, click-stream analysis, and other metrics dependent on the activities of a unique visitor over time, cannot be fully accurate. This approach also does not take into account that the user doesn’t just consume digital “cookies”. They’re a shopper, a home maker, a tweeter or a power texter, the process which misses the audience completely and looks at the trees for the forest.

With over 10 million broadband users in our country more and more people are now viewing their favorite programs, browsing information on websites, socializing via networks on digital screens & platforms such as PCs, tablets and mobile. With this growth in digital audiences, there has never been a greater need to profile and provide accurate and reliable data to clients through modern measurement techniques. Advertisers, agencies and marketers have grown used to the regulated and reliable measurement of ‘traditional’ media, and they now seek the same standards from digital media when it comes to measuring the scale and behavior of online audiences, one that provides for a consistent, reliable approach for validating their ad campaign.

Thus whatever standards we implement in our industry, at the heart of the audience measurement should be an understanding of consumer behavior which not only need to be holistic it should also analyze consumer behavior and trends, advertising effectiveness, brand advocacy, social media buzz and more to provide a 360 degree view of how consumers engage with online media.

Different approaches exist worldwide to measure audiences. The survey method is still a popular method though one can never be sure of the sample’s authenticity. Another approach followed by online research companies worldwide combines representative, people-based panels with, tag-based measurement to deliver a holistic view of the digital universe and its audience. The representative panel offers deep insights across demographic characteristics of Internet use, while data collected through tags placed on participating publishers’ pages provides measurement of the content consumed tracking their demographics, web visiting, online and offline transactions, search behavior, video consumption and ad views. The result is a Total Internet Audience metric that offers a sophisticated approach to understanding consumer behavior and provides comprehensive digital media measurement across all devices and locations, including mobile devices, tablets, secondary PCs and access points outside of home and work locations. This problem with this approach is that it completely misses niche content and is highly skewed towards what is popular.  Other approaches use a mix of impressions, unique reach, frequency (how many times a person saw the ad online), Testing of different creative and tie in with incremental sales.

The first companies to take on Internet audience measurement had been firms with an expertise in estimating computer usage (more Google Analytics) rather than mass-media consumption. However as the media permeates more in our lives and as the new forms of media become live especially mobile, so will the content consumption and behavior of our audiences change even more. Thus from a web based landscape that once required Internet users to visit specific destinations for content will evolve to one in which content is pushed directly to consumers. In order to uncover the size, growth, composition and value of these distributed multi-channel audiences, audience measurement technologies will have to keep pace. Sadly we are not even at the first phase yet.

olx-india

Online Classified Market In Pakistan

Pakistan has traditionally always been a nation with strong social support systems rather than institutions. Even for things as simple as schooling or buying a house, we seek after the opinions and recommendations of our own and extended family and friend networks rather than depending on external reviews or peers.

Over the last few years however this system has seen a gradual shift especially in the upper income segments. As technology has permeated into our lifestyle, the increased exposure and information flows has resulted in making judgements based more on the recommendations of strangers and experts than just existing peers. The increase in more and more people shifting to nuclear families as well just amplifies this trend further. To cater to this sophisticated audience, a growing plethora of classified advertisements sites are springing up in the anticipation of this growing market of the future.

Globally a $100 billion business, Classified sites are the new form of how consumers and businesses or more appropriately sellers and buyers find each other. Whether individuals or businesses are looking for a used car (pakwheels.com), a new employee (rozee.pk), a place to sell their mobile (hafeezcentre.pk) buy a plot for investment or their new home (zameen.com), or even find a partner (shaadi.com), the first stop is increasingly becoming the Internet to sites such as these and more. The appeal lies in the convenience and ease of use such sites provide with powerful search capabilities, more personalized “push” services such as automatic ad alerts, more timely and up-to-date listings and features such as photos, video, and sound clips in online ads. Best of all they are FREE!

In some aspects, the evolution of the online classifieds in Pakistan is unique from its global counter-parts. Pakistan has seen the rise of vertical sites i.e. specializing in one area such as jobs, real estate and matrimonial first unlike say US where the first and still biggest classifieds site is Craigslist, a horizontal site specializing in many categories simultaneously. Secondly, unlike the west, where online classifieds have taken business away from newspapers, online classifieds in Pakistan have grown the overall market. During this time even the print classifieds have grown substantially. This is comparable to our telecom markets where the fixed lines though have been growing gradually, whilst the mobile market has shot through the roof improving tele-density significantly. The future however is mobile and similarly, the online classifieds industry will ultimately cross the print classifieds through the sheer reach, flexibility, cost effectiveness and ease of use for both advertisers and searchers.

Classified sites are the ideal web 2.0 business for a country like Pakistan for unlike Ecommerce models based businesses such as EBay or Amazon where the transactions are completed online, users never buy directly from these classified sites thus our limited infrastructure and payment gateways do not restrict the growth of these online business. Instead, users to these sites use the service to look for best offers and get in touch, while transactions are conducted in person or by phone. The sites benefit from advertising revenue and some paid listings for ‘Featured’ ads. Whilst numbers of the size of the market and revenues are harder to come by, leading the traffic race is OLX with 2.2 million unique users every month in Pakistan. Local sites such as Pakwheels, which deal mainly with second hand cars, claim 15 Million Page views in a month and 150,000 registered users. Zameen.com claims over 180,000 unique monthly visitors and 10,000 site listings a month.
“The market is interesting because of the potential – Pakistan is a huge market in terms of sheer numbers There are roughly 20M Internet users in Pakistan today, and we believe that this number will grow substantially over the next decade. So there’s definitely a big potential in the Pakistani Internet market. We believe that a free, quality classified site like dekho.com.pk is a service that most of the Internet users in Pakistan will want to use”, said Nils Hammar, CEO at dekho.com.pk, one of the pioneers of classified sites in Pakistan.

The launch of Dekho.com.pk since November last year is interesting because this is a horizontal site, much like OLX or Locanto in Pakistan and amongst a growing number of foreign horizontal sites investing in the future of this country and this market. Even with local players, also the market is shifting from vertical category sites to horizontal category sites. Even the players who were earlier in one category have launched other verticals or their own horizontal sites e.g. Pakwheels have launched naitazi.com and tringtring.com, verticals for general goods and mobile phones in Pakistan.

The trends and the factors governing classified ads markets support their assumptions. There is a substantially large numbers of micro and small entrepreneurs who are increasingly looking at advertising options that are free or low cost to market their businesses, services or products online. Online classifieds provide them with a local as well as a national reach and like we mentioned it’s free. A site like dekho.com.pk already claims 50,000 listings in a span of few months.

Classifieds online is definitely evolving but it needs a critical mass. Pakistan’s online industry is in the nascent stages. The overall internet population in Pakistan is limited. Even though it is said to be around 20 million, a person accessing Internet at least weekly is not more than 5-8 million (estimated). Out of this, people looking for search based information would be 2-3 million. This is not a critical mass when compared to US or other developed markets. Secondly, there is a problem of information hoarding e.g. the real estate brokers thrive on their knowledge of whose buying and whose selling and would not part from this information easily. However even with these challenges, the number of classified listings and the audiences would increase substantially in the next 3-5 years because of two things:

1. Pakistan is an emerging market growth with both GDP per capita and online media consumption growing at a good pace. The increasing salaries, more disposable income (many times due to both partners working), increased choice of goods has ensured that users are changing their laptops, PCs and cars faster than before. 50% of mobile especially gets changed within 6 months of purchase. These trends are resulting in a spurt in online listings. People are selling everything – right from washing machines to laptops and even air conditioners. Currently the household in Pakistan which wants to sell items doesn’t have any option offline except the people they know. Hence, online classifieds sites are providing these solutions.

2. Sellers are not online, while buyers are all over the Internet. How many apartment landlords are willing to put up their rental ads on a website? Infact how many landlords are Internet savvy in the first place? However as awareness about online classifieds increase, this will change and more people will join in the marketplace. Online classifieds currently stand to become the trade portals of all C2C transactions in Pakistan and fill in the huge gap between buyer knowledge and sellers disadvantage.

The future for these markets look bright. Internet penetration in Pakistan has been constrained because of broadband and PC penetration where as Mobile penetration has been explosive. People are beginning to realize the ease of access of Internet through their mobiles and in many cases they are having their first exposure to internet through a mobile handset. Online classifieds on Mobile are gradually gaining traction and with the rapidly growing mobile internet users, it could become the largest chunk soon.

“A great mobile service is a must as the Internet usage goes mainstream. We have a mobile site today on dekho.com.pk/m that is being used by all kind of mobile devices. As the market grows we will add more options for mobile users. The future looks promising. We have a lot of belief in Pakistan and the Pakistani Internet market and we want to be a part of the progress as the market grows. So far, the response we’ve had from our users has been great, so I really believe dekho.com.pk will bring value to the Pakistani market”, said Hammar.

One thing is for sure, no matter how the classifieds market will look like in the future, more Internet users mean better services being developed, and better services in turn attract more Internet users. Hopefully we’re in the beginning of this positive spiral where it’s hard to imagine 5 years from now a better way to sell our cars, buy our houses or even find our partners for life.

Original Post: http://auroramag.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/classified-and-online/

The Client Brief – Perfecting The Art

The creative brief is your roadmap. Your Sherpa. Your guide to the buried treasure. The creative brief is the contract between the client and the agency and between the agency account team and the creative team. It spells out in inspiring terms exactly what is that needs to be produced to solve a specific business problem.

Yet it is either treated like a piece of literature with an unending number of pages or an uninspiring piece of paper with check boxes to be filled out. There is also a problem of inconsistent understanding of how to develop and use the brief. Usually the account team does not think about adding value on top of what the client provided. The creative brief is developed in silos and this creates disconnect between the strategy, account management and creative teams. Given that the quality of the final work depends on the brief (Garbage In is Garbage Out) there needs to be a shift in the way we approach the creative brief. Creative Brief

To improve the briefing process, PAS recently hosted a one-day training workshop ‘The Client Brief – perfecting the art!’ on February 1, 2012 at Marriott Hotel, Karachi. The workshop was conducted by Sunil Gupta, a Master Trainer and a veteran of Indian advertising with 28 years of a wide range of experience across diverse brands, consumers and markets.

The new brief is a growing testament to the availability of hyper-choice in an extremely cluttered marketplace where traditional differentiation is no longer enough. The creative brief now is no longer just about the document. It’s about the thinking behind it and the ideas that comes after it. “I want to expand the definition of the brief from that piece of paper in which you put down that I want a 30 second Tvc and two print ads to this is my problem and I’m looking for a communication solution part of which can be advertising. Can you come up with ideas that create customer delight”, evangelizes Sunil Gupta. “The customer has to say WOW!” He continues, “Word of mouth now is very critical and that is created by experience. Now you have to say as your communication brief or engagement brief, what is the experience we want to create for our customers and can our systems support those experiences. Therefore internal communication and training becomes as important as communication and advertising. That is the point to create today. Your entire company has to be aligned around your brand. This is a question of willpower and discipline. You can have the best advertising and it still might not meet objectives because the product experience is damaging. Thus advertising is just one part of the strategy today”, said Sunil Gupta.

Muhammad Shoaib Baloch, Creative Director, Prestige Communication concurred with an observation of his own “A brief is a process and the agency is never made part of the actual process of what resulted in the need for advertising. Brief can be the dust or the gold, depending on how the client briefs the agency. The more exciting the brief, the more the out of the box campaign you’ll get”.

Thus it can be said that the brief is not a form to be filled out but the beginning of the creative process, the first creative thinking, the first imaginative leap and the first ad of the campaign and if it’s not written in the format that gets into the agency people’s minds, than they will not measure their work against it – one reason why despite bad briefing, the agency still produces great work…They simply ignore the brief.

Creative BriefYet advertisers cannot afford to take this aspect of communication lightly. With the pace of business quickening and as the number of brands multiplies, increasingly it is not companies but the customer who will decide which brand lives and which brands die and to do that it is now highly important to stand out in the market place. This means finding something, anything which can separate your brand from the clutter. To start this process ask yourself “Are you Asking The Right Questions”. The brief in 1992 which the agencies used to send to their clients included questions like:
• What is the problem or opportunity?
• Who are we talking to?
• What should the advertising achieve?
• What thought do we want to leave with others?
• What will make them believe this?
• What is required?
• Anything else?

Come 2012 and for most part agencies still follow the same brief format namely a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers’ to ‘target’, a message to say AT them, reasons to believe, tone of voice and what media the client needs. This is despite of the fact that the consumer and the media both have changed dramatically in the last decade. A more relevant method of questioning now is What’s the real problem?, Who is this among?, How might we best approach solving this?, Why might they talk about this idea?, How do they get involved? and What will keep the conversation going?

The brief also needs to follow some guidelines amongst which are:
Marketingese / jargon has no place in a brief. Speak with personality (ideally that of a consumer), and immediately you’ll use far more evocative inspiring language and not hide behind generic marketing nothingness.
A briefing is not a dictation. Make a brief closed or directional, and you’ll know what the creatives will produce even before they go away to work on it. A brief should be a platform from which they can launch off from. Not a means for you to force your ideas on a team. Always double check – can you think of two or three ideas from the brief you’ve written immediately? Are any of them your pet ideas? If yes, your agency will produce more or less the same.
A brief should not be written in exclusion of others. Whilst the planner should own the final document, but it is absolutely imperative to go to speak with the creative teams when writing it. Take some options, get their point of view.

If the creative brief is not itself creative, if it does not suggest solutions to problems, present information in an expansive and interesting way, and interpret the information with imagination and flair, then its authors and presenters have no right to expect anything different from the creative agency. To check whether it’s an engaging proposition or not, it helps to ask questions like Is it instantly clear and does it communicate exactly what you want to say?, Does it contain a fact about the product you didn’t know before you started writing? Is it surprising or thought-provoking?, Does it contain a strategic insight?, Does it contain a benefit to the consumer?, Do you yourself believe it? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, it isn’t an engaging proposition e.g. we can say Dawn Newspaper is the paper of choice of the upper income segment of the population of Pakistan which are the core decision makers of the country, which in all likelihood will produce a typical ad. However a better brief would be Dawn Newspaper is for people who like to make up their own minds and a great brief would be Dawn Newspaper – not written for sheep. Thus when writing a brief, these are the top tips.

Consistent – The brief is brief for a reason. There is no space for tangents and multiple ideas. Pick your core theme, and trail it through EVERY element. If it is as fertile a thought as it should be, this will be easy.
Get the right info in the right boxes – Often boxes are mixed up in which Insights are passed off as objectives and the audiences are often found in mandatories. There are no “dull, functional” boxes. Everything should inspire and stick to your theme.

Language – Work hard to avoid the mundane. Let your vocabulary flow and inspire. Rewrite it. Rewrite it again. Every word is sacred. Make them all work hard. Remember, if you leave a loose word or loose thought, what’s to stop the creative picking up on this and basing their idea on it.

Follow The Template – It is a fixed template for a reason – to stop everyone going on for pages. If you need to shrink text or expand boxes, you are writing too much. Edit yourself, not the template.

How To Advertisement

Find your trueline – Marty Neumeier in his book ‘Zag’ says that all brand communication should emanate from your trueline. A trueline is the one statement you can make about your brand which is the reason why your brand matters to customers. It can’t be reduced, refuted or easily dismissed. The key to crafting a trueline is to focus on a single proposition. If you find yourself using commas or ‘Ands’, you may need more focus e.g. Avis – Because We’re Number Two, We Try Harder or for a insurance company don’t let your illness cripple your family.
With the wealth of increasing clutter of products, features, media, advertising and messages creating a poverty of attention in our world today, we need to ensure that we create emotions, aesthetics and experience that excite our audiences and creates vibrancy again in an increasingly dull and similar advertising landscape. To do that kind of magic requires crafting a magical brief.

Published: Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April, 2012.

Yes! We Khan – Social Media Case Study Of Imran Khan Rally On December 25th, 2011

The highly successful Jalsa of 25th December, 2011 organized by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf was a major social media milestone for Pakistan. By using a disruptive technology in early markets, PTI has upset the status quo, catapulting a man who did not look like a serious contender for government initially into the forefront of the race whilst engaging voters in fundamentally new ways.  This form of tech adoption has also ushered in a new relationship model between leaders and their supporters (especially young ones) with all political parties now announcing and jostling for the ‘youth vote’ with their youth wings. Perhaps in the future it will also serve to change expectations of ‘Citizens’ and ‘Leader’s’ roles in government.

Imran Khan’s campaign epitomizes the opportunities  to be gained using your ‘customers’ to amplify the effect using new technologies despite contending with established players that have far greater resources and legacy. At its most basic however it’s about good fundamentals. For a start it’s about selling a product which people want [an innate buzz]. Dr. Awab Alvi, the person responsible for PTI’s social media strategy said “We are just an interface to communicate the product to people online. People want to see, hear and want to interact with our brand and we use a medium to give them what they want. The buzz is nothing to do with us marketing the product. Fundamentally the product is a need of the time due to the country’s situation and people are looking for an alternative and Imran Khan is being seen as that alternative.”

Thus authenticity matters and If one looks at the competitive landscape in this context, Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N have recently spent an inordinate amount of money on social media trying to make up for lost ground, but the difference is again in the vision that Imran Khan sells and the ‘more of the same’ approach which is being used by PML-N. In social media one can’t just adopt a brand and expect people to buy into it without authenticity. The new ‘Khudari’ message (something which PML-N didn’t do in 20 years) thus will not work for their brand in this case.

Another one of the tenets of social media that holds true for PTI’s approach is “go to where your customers are.” PTI made it possible for people to participate where they want, how they want, using the tools and friendships they want. Whilst it’s a butt of jokes that most of Imran Khan’s base cannot even vote and that children under 18 are not relevant to be targeted because they can’t vote. However in this traditional thinking, political bigwigs forget that these same generations can talk [and inspire] and help to build a wave of change. Social media enables them to use lower or zero transaction costs to do it. It is these passionistas  who serve as the base for the party.

“There is a tremendous army working for the organization which responds to queries, reputation management, etc and to date NONE of the volunteers have ever been paid. When you have passionate people doing something they love… they believe in the change, in doing it as an end in itself and all they want from us has been the recognition of that aspect’, said Dr. Awab. ‘I tell them truly that it’s YOU whose done this for Pakistan and I mean it’. Faisal Kapadia, a blogger and activist at ‘DeadPan Thoughts’ describes the feeling as ‘It was a high that I’ve never felt before with an energy level not even found at a U2 concert’.

Social media use by PTI includes clarifying and defense of the party’s policies and actions, reputation management and killing of the rumor mill, engaging with voters, provide the imagery that give hope and provide for a catalyst of change. The key engines thus that propelled the social media movement forward for the organization included but were not limited to Imran Khan (Official) Channel and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Official Page) which are the Facebook channels responsible for organizing and mobilizing people for initiatives that support key processes whilst ‘We Want Imran Khan to Be The Next Prime Minister Of Pakistan’ and ‘Jagutho’ are initiatives for sharing viewpoints, helping supporters, volunteers and campaign workers to co-ordinate their offline and online activities.

Combined there are over 500,000 ‘fans’ of PTI & Imran Khan with over 50,000 plus active participants at any moment in time. These channels were the ones which provided the support needed during the Jalsa online and the figures below show the impact of these on the Jalsa and vice versa.

Constant engagement is key. Imran Khan campaigns and encourages users and artists to use the imagery they provide for their own purpose acknowledging and recognizing that they should give up control. The best creative developed Imran Khan addressing the Jalsa with the caption: ‘Hope Is Priceless… for everything else there’s Mastercard’. A big lesson for brands here is to ‘Make it easy for people to make you their own’. Let people act on their desire to get involved at a low transaction cost, and very visibly. This increases leverage.

PTI has also been present on Twitter with @Imran KhanPTI and @PTIOfficial channels. Twitter works since during the span of the Jalsa the PTI broke 11 global twitter trends within a 5 hour window and because of it reverberated across the 300 million strong community on the platform including ‘DilDilPakistan’ quickly being picked up across the region.

To understand its significance, one can take into account that as a baseline it takes a minimal of 500 active users and 1200-1900 tweets per hour to break a global trend. To dominate it as PTI did, it takes much more. Another platform which has been very successful for PTI has been the mobile 80022 which drives the membership for the party.  Utilizing this form of technology, PTI has their ‘army’ segmented via city, via constituencies and clumped by affinities which allows them to mobilize with great speed and effectiveness.

This informs people with SMS messages when an event such as the Jalsa is about to happen and asks for participation. Roman Urdu works better than English on the platform. In the future, this database form of marketing will serve its purpose for voter turnouts.

Other features enabled on mobile include mapping via SMS which was used to provide directions to nearest available pickup points for people and recently an iReport debut feature on the platform which was used to identify and resolve the problems that people were facing at the jalsa.

iReport holds the potential to be much much more. This is going to be a powerful form of Citizen Reporting platform and once properly activated will become a force for accountability in Pakistan as normal Pakistanis report their encounters on issues which PTI raises.

The jalsa also used an innovative platform of ‘Live Streaming’ the event globally to all those who could not be physically there. Using a 50 Mbps fiber connection, the event was streamed to over 35000 people at its peak LIVE across the globe.

The PTI Jalsa has broken new grounds in the marketing of politics and perhaps even for business. Marketing executives need to start focusing on what will happen when their stakeholders self-organize, mirror each other’s interests, magnify the interests into passions and make a lot of noise. This can change expectations fast. They should be aware of traditional thinking in their organizations so they can counter these. It must be remembered that all disruptive change always presents as a fringe activity at first. Thus marketers need to make it a priority to understand social media adoption milestones, so they don’t get caught by surprise. Some of the good lessons out of the Jalsa which marketers can learn from:

  1. PTI strategy is to focus on selling leadership, not policies. Most political campaigns sell their candidates like products, replete with features and benefits (“policies” and “programs”). More profound, leadership and personal qualities and beliefs inspire more easily than policies.
  2. Trust your stakeholders to discover and do the right thing. Smart organizations are becoming more cooperative by sharing “control.” Letting go energizes people to contribute in a meaningful manner.
  3. Realize you cannot control the conversation and that’s okay.
  4. The more transparent and collaborative, the stronger your organization will be as a competitor.
  5. Think small. Industrial Economy marketing held that the only things worth watching were big numbers and big initiatives. Yet in the digital age, many many people doing small things can have a big impact when they are using digital social media because it affords so much leverage. Many small numbers can roll up to a big number. Many-to-many means geometric growth and acceleration.

For PTI after a successful campaign, now on the Social Media Roadmap is to move on from ‘just defending ourselves’ to organization of the masses and translate the online activism to offline activism. “Right now it’s all Imran Khan’s draw but now we’ve seen potential we will be organizing leaders in colleges and universities. Jagutho is one of the initiatives which has created a ‘Responsible Citizen’ model which is organized around a mohalla basis which we hope to implement soon.”, said Dr. Alvi. “The Future is calling”.

The Future Of Advertising … Is Not Advertising

The Future Of AdvertisingWe live in an era that isn’t business as usual anymore. Living in a networked economy with an increasing overlap between consumer and technology is opening up opportunities for businesses and the resulting advertising to evolve. As Mark Earls has said marketing is increasingly moving from a world where you are marketing to people to one where people are marketing to each other on your behalf.

Daniele Fiandaca is one of the foremost trendsetters in the field and is currently running his own consultancy, Digital Fauna (DF came from the initials of his own name). Prior to starting his own consultancy, London-based Daniele Fiandaca was CEO (Europe) of Profero, an independent, privately owned digital marketing agency founded in London in 1998, growing it from a small team to the global business it is now with 300 employees in fifteen cities across the globe and boasting a highly diverse roster of clients, among them AstraZeneca, COI, Guinness, HBOS International, Johnson & Johnson, Lufthansa, and Western Union. Under Daniele’s creative leadership, the agency had won many awards, including a Gold Cannes Cyber Lion for its MINI “White Rabbit” campaign.

He also continues to run Creative Social which he founded, alongside Mark Chalmers, in 2004 and has sat on a number of juries including D&AD, Festival of Media and Revolution. His passions include film, collecting vinyl toys and traveling to exotic places.

Umair Mohsin caught up with him at the PAS Digital and Social Media workshop held at the Sheraton on September 21, 2011 and had an engaging ‘conversation’ about social media, marketing people to people, whether agencies will survive in a new media world and the future of advertising as we don’t know it.

Q. How do you usually define Social Media?

Social media is really a conversation facilitated by lots of technologies. It really is a ‘conversation’.

Q.When we say conversation do we mean between the consumer and the brand?

No! It’s a dialogue between people to people.

Q.So where do the brands come in to this?

It’s a conversation so it’s the same conversation that we might have if we were having dinner or if we were going to someone’s house. When people are having such conversations do they expect a brand to leap in and become part of the conversation? They don’t. So why do the brands feel they can do it online. What they [the brands] need to do is provide social currency to these people to actually fill those conversations. People tend not to want to speak to brands, so the brand itself has to be fundamentally interesting if it wants to become part of people’s conversations. A lot of brands don’t get that.

Q. So why than should brands take a look at social media in the first place?

Word of mouth has always been the most influential marketing media ever. Now however word of mouth now equals world of mouth. Brands can now get into those conversations and actually have people promoting them with one person conversing about it to a hundred people or even a thousand people and that’s extremely powerful.

If brands provide interesting content, interesting offers, interesting conversational pieces, some entertainment than they have more chance of people spreading it without having to spending media dollars. It can be mass reach without the cost. Fundamentally however it means you do have to have a good product as to the same extent it is much easier to get found out. You also have to be interesting.

Q. You use the word interesting a lot. When we say Interesting what do we mean? Is making someone laugh interesting?

Brands need to have social currency to be interesting. If you can make something simpler, faster, more inspiring, more available or effortless than you’ll have currency. For other examples look at the social currency wheel.

Image

Credit: Steve Sponder

http://blog.stevesponder.com/how-valuable-is-your-social-currency

Q. Brands like McDonalds, Starbucks, Pepsi or Coke do not need social media to have social currency because of their existing heritage. Does social work in the same aspect for new companies or brands?

There is a telephone company called GifGaf in UK which is a phone network built using social  media. They ensured that the community engagement happened consistently and sustainably adding value both to the brand and the community. Secondly, this form of media works best when the whole business is geared to not just accepting but embracing the value and the power of its community.

Q. What was the thing that they did different?

They listened. That’s it. You have to understand the fundamentals. People in pubs do not talk about biscuits or bulbs. You have to create something that they might talk about. Wheat Thins is a fantastic example of creating something quite humorous utilizing people’s use of social. Brands have to engage their fans and if they don’t have any than they do have to ask this question of why not and that’s the issue which they have to address first.

It must be mentioned that advertisers focus on numbers when social is not about numbers but about the quality of engagement. If you can have a group of 100 fans you can learn so much including about the products and they can be your biggest evangelists. So it’s not about the numbers. That’s why it’s a CEOs job to ensure that their company embraces social across the  board.

Q. How has business changed because of social media?

Because of WOM phenomenon now products actually have to be good whereas in the past products have been successful without being so. Bad customer service is also a thing of the past, most brands do not get away with that anymore. What we’re also seeing is that people have to be far more open and honest. You have a lot of examples of businesses using social media who tried to hoodwink people and got found out very quickly.  So social media has made the businesses need to be more honest.

Q. Isn’t it too many choices and too many lines of communication? How do you keep up?

If the CEO of ZAPPOS, a multi billion dollar company can spare time for twitter then no business has the right to complain. Like I said it’s the CEO that leads the whole culture. The problem you get in UK and possibly in Pakistan too that it’s the more junior people who recognize the need for social and in all honestly many senior management don’t get it. What you find is that those CEO do get it and actually embrace it will gain a competitive advantage as a result of engagement with its community.

Q. What factors should companies consider when choosing to engage on social media?

The first thing you have to understand is that what are you trying to achieve first. Going on Facebook is not a strategy. You really have to understand what it is you are trying to do. Are you trying to build a community, do you want to use it as a CRM tool, do you want to experiment and see what happens, can you recruit your biggest fans to manage your Facebook group for you… there are different ways you can do stuff. Some of the basics are that do not open a twitter account and follow a 1000 people just to have them follow you back. You have to know what the Twitter account is for. If you’re a telco e.g. and you have customers tweeting their problems to you, you can’t ignore that. You have to have a system which can respond to those tweets straight away. The acceptable time on Twitter is really no more than an hour.

Q. Best tactics, where do I start, how do I find my focus and efforts.

Listen first, be human, and first listen to what people are saying about your brands. Nielsen Buzz metrics is an excellent tool for listening.

Q. How do you pay the agency which does social media?

I don’t think advertisers should be using agencies for handling their social media. It should be in-house. The only people who know their brands are the people who work in them. How can an agency know how to answer on FB or Twitter. Agencies should be in consultancy or giving lots of training. Agency people should sit in the business if they are handling it to understand the business and talk to people around you but it should be internal to the company.

Q. Is there a future of agencies than if brands continue to grow their own communities and market themselves?

(Laughs) The future of agencies is as making brands interesting e.g. WCRS was the agency behind Orange Telecom. They made the mobile operator interesting. Great ideas are great ideas and agencies are good at great ideas. Agencies will be successful if they can provide ideas which people can belong to.

Q. What elements should be addresses in the plan and how would you measure success.

One of the ways is that people are starting to measure the avg. value of a Facebook customer vs. a non FB customer. 40% of people want to join because they want to receive discounts and promotions and then you use the engagement to help them become customers.

Rural Broadband In Pakistan: Powered Off

Goth in Sindh40 Kilometers out of Karachi, in the neighborhood of Sultanabad, Kemari Town lies a small goth named Anwar Thaheem of over 3000 inhabitants. The village consists of a school, a single entertainment area and just one bricked house which is owned by the chieftain whilst the rest are thatched huts. The majority of the residences are illiterate and despite the presence of a single computer which was donated to the school long ago, it has never been turned on due to lack of knowledge of the populace. This goth in particular is of interest because the electricity wires that reach Karachi pass overhead (official kunda costs only Rs. 500 per month) and the fiber optic cables that connects the country pass within 20 feet of the village.

It’s places like these that serve as a reminder that despite the promise of information technology that has brought prosperity to millions of (mostly Urban) Pakistanis, unless the rural-urban divide is bridged and the issues of systemic issues not taken up more seriously, the broadband connection to over 1000 cities despite the hoopla will prove to be of little benefit to our country and the economy at large.

The promise of broadband for the rural sector has been hyped up for years.  It has been seen as unlocking the great potential of the digital revolution in the service of relief to save lives, sustainable development and lasting peace in rural areas. ICT has been seen a means of providing accessible and affordable education, while marginalized groups will use it to play a key role in economic development.

Over the last few years, some of this has come about. Due to the policies implemented by the govt. especially with regard to telecom, Pakistan has seen the growth of broadband at a good pace. Though penetration is still at 0.66% as of December 2010 with 1,140,781 broadband subscribers as compared to 643,892 at the end of December, 2009, it still shows a 77% growth over the last calendar year with 1000 cities covered to date.

The path ahead is still not easy. One of the great challenges of broadband is to provide service to potential customers in areas of low population density, such as to villages and small towns. In cities where the population density is high, it is easier for a service provider to recover equipment costs, but for each rural area it’s tougher as each area may require expensive equipment to get connected and for few customers. The quality of service for internet service providers too remains a question mark. This is mainly due to old copper media for landline connections which prevents reliable service available for home-users who are 1,500 meters or farther from the telephone exchange. Some of these challenges are being mitigated with help from the USF (Universal Service Fund) which has been running rural telecom projects to provide basic telephony and data services in several remote areas of Pakistan. The USF backing on rural projects have changed the focus of telecom operators from urban towards rural population. Until now, contracts have been awarded for Rural Telecom Projects to provide a subsidy of PKR 4.2 billion in total. All these projects aim to provide services in 12,000 un-served muzas. These projects have started bearing fruits as the number of previously un-served muzas where service has been provided has reached 3,500. In addition to this, it is mandatory for telecom operators in rural areas where USF is providing subsidy to power their infrastructure through renewable energy sources. So far, 66 Base stations are on solar. However the future is a long way away.

Broadband can be the great enabler that restores Pakistani rural’s economic well-being and opens doors of opportunity for all to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives. With the escalating costs of living especially with the rise of fuel prices, the economics of rural sustainability are in question which rural broadband can resolve.  Even just a rupee jump in oil means people that are commuting to work can no longer make that economically viable.  Going to the next town to shop becomes an economic hardship.  The shifting of the economics is causing a lot of people’s livelihoods to disappear, at a time where rural broadband could provide clean, industry-sustainable jobs working for corporations that are physically located anywhere in the world.  Many more people would subscribe to high speed if they could turn it into an income supplement based out of the home.

But as with all technologies it’s not just about the infrastructure – it’s how people can rally around accepting their own full potential and that requires a change the mindsets. Rural poverty suffers from social isolation and lack of updated education.  The dream career of a matric passed student here is to get a low-level govt. job. Anything else is taken at blank. The second trouble is the lack of leadership. No tribal leaders shows up at any initiative, no teachers from the schools are  available for tutoring and worse even the MPs in the area never visit their own areas. So the ideal outcomes are hampered by the unwillingness of the leadership to hear what’s possible. Thus building in new capacity or new buildings is more of a wastage of capacity unless one can also take care of the systemic issues.

The resistance that rural Pakistanis have shown toward towards what is their greatest opportunity at improving their lifestyles is part of a great systemic  responses that will have to be addressed before rural broadband will take off. These anti-literacy, anti-technology rural attitude barriers will have to be broken. It will mean answering questions such as how do we educate our leaders who are not in school?  How do we educate teachers when there are not budgets for professional development for educators and at the end of the day it will come down to leadership.  If leaders are not keeping up with what’s possible through trends, etc, then it hampers the rest of us, and right now we have a generational inertia that is incredibly damaging.

The main thing that needs to change especially is youth’s readiness to accept change and to pay attention to what is happening around them, both locally and globally, and to give the youth an opportunity to receive current education and showcase their skills. Only than will the chasm ever be bridged.

Published in Dawn Images: 13th June, 2011