From The Archives (2008) – On Digital Marketing

On Digital Marketing
Published In Dawn, Aurora, March 2008

by Umair Mohsin

With the increasing fragmentation of the consumer in Pakistan, it still continues to amaze me how much money still gets pumped into traditional media when even at the best of times, leading advertising practitioners used to admit that only 50 per cent worked and even then they weren’t sure which 50 percent. Life is more challenging for advertisers now that it’s generally accepted that mass marketing is no longer as effective as it was when they only had a 50/50 chance of success. Infact even twenty years ago nobody could have foreseen the challenges today’s marketers would be facing.

The base of this shift we’re facing now were the seeds that were planted about 10 years ago, when we saw the advent of the mobile in Pakistan through Paktel. It was a huge handset then, which only facilitated the dialing of the number. The SMS feature was inferior and still in nascent stages. However just 1½ after Paktel, global MVOs started looking at the potential of this market and introduced new and better handsets especially those based on GSM standards. Mobilink entered Pakistan and changed the face of the markets as we knew it. Now we’re witnesses to such metamorphosis in consumer behavior as such which has not been seen since the emergence of television in Pakistan decades ago.

Today the agency profession (and because of it traditional media) is being marginalized by businesses looking for bottom line accountability. This is simply because traditional media-based marketing models are shattering like Humpty Dumpty falling off a very high wall.

The economics of the industrial era were the ones in which the models for traditional media made sense. Interaction was expensive, so information about the expected benefits of consumption of products had to be squeezed into slogans, characters, and logos, compressed into thirty-second TV ads and radio spots. With the advent of the information age however and cheap digital interaction, these models are falling apart. When interaction is cheap, the very economic rationale which furthered the growth of traditional media actually begins to implode.

Let’s stop a bit and define ‘brand’ as the ‘total sum of all consumer experiences’. Now think about this next statement for a second: the #1 global brand belongs to a company that doesn’t advertise. Can you guess which brand it is? It’s not Microsoft. It’s not GE. It’s not even IBM. It’s simply Google. With every click of a mouse, every read of an article or completion of a search query, the digital brand delivers on its promise. The actual transactional cost of the brand’s interaction with the consumer is miniscule and yet each is responsible for creating an impression and giving value to the customer.

Building further on this base and depending upon number of touch-points as our criteria for choice of medium, you can easily see that the impact and reach of a digital brand is going to be leaps and bounds ahead of the non-digital brand.  This is because information about the costs and benefits associated with consumption will no longer have to be compressed into logos, slogans, ad-spots and column-inches as with traditional media. Instead, with digital media consumers can and will debate and discuss expected costs associated with and the benefits of the brand in incredibly rich details and the more cheaper the interaction gets, the more connected consumers will become and the more they will talk to each other – and the less time they will spend listening to the often empty promises of advertisers.

The information gap created in the past too will disappear. Before advertisers had focused heavily on measuring the means of awareness such as reach, frequency, etc (which too were theoretical) rather than the economic value they gained from traditional advertising such as ‘Advocacy Rates’, ‘Sales Conversion’, ‘Sales Uplift’, etc because with the limitations of traditional media there were simply very few other metrics possible. However common sense dictates that just because I’m aware of something, doesn’t mean I want it (Guy Soap, anyone?). Marketers still do not fully understand this especially with regard to new media. Digital media is not shackled by this lack of data which pervaded traditional media and allows for metrics far beyond awareness, is superior and can be measured from the instant the user sees the advertised message up to the moment of sale and afterwards as well. Digital is the most accurate, transparent, and reliable type of media. The simplest metrics e.g. can enable the calculation of the cost of acquisition of a customer giving you a rupee for rupee analysis of your spending in real-time.

Increasingly the marketer should realize that the multi-tasking, instant-messaging, e-mailing, cell phoning, emoticoning ;-), always on, gaming, Web-searching, blogging, social networking customers are for real and as they will scramble to find their footing in this new hyper-fragmented world, they will become painfully aware of the fact that customers are increasingly ignoring their marketing efforts. In what is being called the ‘experience’ economy, the customers overall experience of a product or service “throughout the customer life cycle” (Reach, Acquisition, Conversion, Retention) is now becoming the primary arbiter of a successful relationship with a brand. To add complexity to this model, we have the burgeoning media options which have fragmented the universe of customers and have made possible on-demand media consumption and lightning-quick word of mouth.

This trend will only amplify as the pace of digital innovation accelerates and is matched, step for step, by our interest in technology. One by-product of this development will be that the measures by which we understand “audience” will be shifting e.g. with longer working hours and a blurring of the boundaries between “work” and “life”, more and more we as consumers will be on the lookout for approaches, tools and technologies (not to mention friends, networks and colleagues) that will help us filter, assess and analyze information regardless of its source. We will become “Continuously Connected”. Therefore the term audience in the near future e.g. will include Pakistani technology blogs as well as normal consumers. This oncoming trend will have profound implications for brands and the way the consumer engages them.

Thus for marketers, the challenges—and the opportunities—are huge. Advertisers know that the traditional model is broken, and that the old rules do not apply. In this case it is digital marketing that will increasingly become the means of tapping onto such a consumer base, which has little time for TV, Print or Radio.  Already we can see this manifesting itself into our consumer’s lives. A research conducted by Google Pakistan e.g. estimated that at least 70% of the total internet population of 14 Million Pakistan spends between 1 & 6 hours online. Thus advertising is already becoming a choice – something that people can easily filter out and only choose to engage with if it helps them out, makes them laugh or turns them on.

“You tap onto the [digital] consumer because they’re more conducive to technology than any other medium even if they don’t understand it fully. The attention of marketers now should be on mobile devices & laptops. To tap into these mediums and to let the corporate message be available to them – this is the definition and the scope of Digital Medium in Pakistan in the current scenario.” Said Fouad Husain, GM, Mindshare, a GroupM company.

“Clients approach online media the same way they approach other traditional media. Digital marketing is not a mass medium. It is a peer-to-peer medium. When we realize that is it not a mass medium, we will begin to see the necessity of focusing on the right content for the right audience.”, said Naj
amus S
aqib, Head of Business Development, Intelligenes, a software house working on digital marketing techniques in Pakistan.

Taking notice of these trends in place, already companies like Unilever are moving into the digital realm. The brand Energile e.g. which is using football in its communication as a way of driving its brand amongst the youth is especially using this medium. To tap into the youth market further it has launched its own football portal online and has even made football interactive. People who don’t enjoy physical football will interact with the brand by a mobile game based on penalty shootouts which is downloadable from all mobile networks. Thus the brand is seamlessly integrating itself in the lives and conversations of its consumers further.

All things said, it’s about time that marketers grasp the changes that digital has brought to the communications industry – all media are digital, that all marketing is interactive and that all customer communications have to be integrated across media and time. Not that this is easy. The consumer has moved up. Unfortunately, the consumer has not been educated what this technology can do and consumer dynamics play a very important role when it comes to mass adoption of the technology. Aside from this we still have other obstacles to overcome, such as broadband penetration and speeds and most of all talent which can work with this medium.

“We do not have the capabilities in the agencies to tackle this medium. So for the near future, I do not foresee the digital medium growing. Talent and investment in this area will be required, because this area has not been recognized as yet.” said Husain.

Yet some companies, such as GroupM & Media Idee Interactive, are still making a conscious decision to go digital. Response based marketing is now driving advertising globally and companies utilizing digital media are building up consumer profiles, tailoring their offerings to those bases. Yet we still have a long way to go.

“Talk is easy. The real skill will be getting companies seeped in traditional advertising methods to realize how the market is changing. That’s a problem new media companies like ours are struggling to solve – pushing our clients to try different media & mediums and in different ways.” said Ehmer Kirmani, CEO Media Idee.

“How do we bring the brand to interact with the consumer [digitally]? We have to ask the question has it been built from real creative thinking with regard to the medium or is it just part of the overall package once the creative thinking has been completed. If it doesn’t get started from the former position, it never gets started at all. Digital means ‘Consumer Engagement’. It’s not about sending them informative SMS. It means molding your brand to fit the medium.” said Husain.

“The challenge for advertising agencies and marketers is how you converge technology into mass media first to create awareness, pull and then start going niche. The survival of traditional media will depend on how they converge into new digital media. Sports channels are the world’s best examples of going digital. ESPN, Start Sports, etc, they all have very strong digital media attached to them, so that their audience base is updated on their favorite sports 24/7.”, added Husain.

This is an early warning for brands which are not developing their digital mindspace. These brands are bound to face substantial challenges as older teens & young adults begin moving into the workforce. Not only will non-digital brands find it hard to reach this new workforce, they will be missing opportunities to engage a savvy consumer-force fully conversant with technology and its place in their lives and while admittedly the real impact of this oncoming shift may be a few years off, the shockwaves of the change are being felt even now. The consumer has adopted the immersive worlds of digital media, the bi-directionality of INSperiences which is being manifested in their consumer space and whom they let enter into those worlds. The future is about brands opening their brand stories in a way that allows consumers to step inside. Surprisingly, it is NOT about big shifts. It is about the little ones – the ones that go click! click!


From The Archives (2006) – Beyond Traditional Advertising

It’s Time To Think Beyond Traditional Advertising
Published In Dawn, Aurora, June 2006

By Umair Mohsin

An upcoming media revolution has arrived in Pakistan and has forever changed the way the Pakistani consumer reacts to and consumes media. Traces of it were seen when ‘Capri’ held the first beauty pageant in Pakistan called ‘Capri Face Of The Year’. Soliciting entries from as far as Kashmir, it was amongst the first of its kind of what would be called reality-based branded entertainment. Nestle soon followed suit with MilkPak’s ‘Aao Galay Milain’. The revolution came into its own, however, after the years 2003-2004, when the ‘new media’ segment exploded with programs like the ‘Lux Style Awards’, ‘Sunsilk 21st Century Woman’, ‘Commander Safeguard’, etc, the latest of which have been Tapal’s Chai Banao, Dhoom Machao, ‘Pepsi’s ‘Code Batao’ and ‘Mountain Dew’s Survivor’.

‘New Media’ is the name given to any media vehicle (usually digital) which broadly encompasses an attempt to deliver the brand experience to the customer while actively engaging the customer. It encompasses everything from multimedia in various scales to hypermedia, which emphasizes interactivity. This is in marked contrast to ‘Traditional media’ which is ‘intrusive’, meant for singular one-sided communication and is built for short exposure. In case of non-traditional media, the brand’s presence in the consumer’s context is that experience. It may not need any communication as we know it.

Lost In Tradition

Over the last five years both the consumers of Pakistan and the clients have witnessed a paradigm shift in the way brands are marketed. There have been many reasons that have been cited for this phenomenon. Amongst them are the rise of plastic money, media, international exposure, fast changing lifestyles and the trend of ‘concurrent media usage’

One of the oft cited reasons for the changing consumer is the rise of ‘consumerism’. Plastic money and the increasingly available easy financing schemes have changed our customers to expect more and the change we’re witnessing has come from people who have started to live their dreams and aspirations. This combined with increasing income levels due to new investments by foreign companies especially in the telecom sectors, the rising real estate prices, bullish stock markets and a booming economy has given rise to the more brand conscious and demanding consumer.

“The youth of the previous generations used to live for someone – their family, their spouse, their children. This new youth is now living more and more for itself. Traditionally savings had always been low in our country but with the invasion of media showing ‘the good life’ more and more people are joining the consumption race”, said Ali Naqvi, Marketing Manager, Dawn.

Secondly, with the arrival of over a 100+ local and foreign channels and as many radio channels, 200+ publications, the rise of the outdoor clutter, the always switched on mobile phone and the one-click away internet connection, the traditional media companies have seen their once largely passive audience consuming whatever the producers, editors, etc decided change to an active and fickle audience getting more and more used to ‘having things their way’. This explosion of media has inculcated a sense of quality in the consumer. They are more aware and have infinitesimal more choices today to get satisfied through one medium or another. More and more the audience now demonstrates program based loyalty than channel based loyalty.

The media glamour not only has changed the Pakistani psyche but has also been cited for blurring the lifestyle and buying patterns between the urban and rural masses. The exposure to other cultures and lifestyles has changed the non-urban settler to become as aspiring as their urban counterparts.

This has not come without its consequences however. The youth especially has become increasingly disoriented and has started emulating what they see around them, giving rise to the sophisticates, the person whose identity is more and more tied in to the possessions they have. The more expensive the possessions are, the higher the sense of ‘identity’ the youth has.

“One class in our country emulates the Indian film industry. This mostly comprises of mature audiences. The second class is the youth that emulates what they see on music channels esp. Channel V. Infact, we can call this upcoming generation the ‘V’ generation because ‘V’ is how they define themselves. Their sense of identity comes from each other. Thus, within this chaos is a growing clash in the minds of the youth between traditional familiar values and the glamour from the west”, said Syed Haroon, GM Marketing, Tapal.

These trends are increasing the size of the pies across industries because of which new competition is emerging. This incidentally is also one of the main reasons of the rise of the ‘media wars’ across all mediums, significantly adding to the media clutter and fragmentation of the consumers.

Part of the blame, however, of for the clutter caused also lies within the revenue models of the media companies themselves. Ample real estate of media is now available at throwaway prices and the prices are falling every year.

“Everyone from MNCs to the shopkeeper next door has jumped into TVCs and with so much demand for advertising, programs have been limited to 40 mins duration with 20 mins of advertising. If you don’t have the frequency the money is wasted. If you do, the consumer hates you”, said Shahbaz, CEO, Nucleus Entertainment.

Haroon says it differently however. “5-7 years ago, if someone wanted to reach 50% of the population, a budget of Rs.100-150 million would have been enough to do so inclusive of reminder advertising. Now if someone wants to achieve the same numbers, they’ll require between Rs. 300-500 million, just to break the clutter”.

The fast changing lifestyles however are producing their own consequences that the traditional advertisers should beware of. According to AC Nielsen data for ‘Projected Household Usage of Free Time’, there is a growing trend of not being able to watch TV due to lack of time. In the Urban centers, only 53% of the households profess to watch television. The most watched channels being ‘PTV’ at 35% and 36% for males and females respectively and Star Plus second at 18% and 45% respectively. However, 79% would rather prefer spending time with their family and children than do anything else.

“The reason for that is there’s a finite supply of ad time on TV and a finite time that viewers watch the top programs they like”, said Fauzan Sohail, the owner of “Thus you can already see the ad budgets leaving the traditional media and going into the digital space, albeit on a limited scale but compared to a few years ago, the trend is becoming more pronounced. Thus, I look at it not as fragmentation, but as hyper-fragmentation. It’s mind-boggling the way the multiple platforms are creating multiple sources for new revenues.”

Aside from these trends, however, there is another phenomenon that is rarely mentioned in marketing circles but is growing at unprecedented speeds across the nation. People now talk on their mobiles while watching television. Their children instant-message friends while listening to music. Women talk on the phone, chat with their significant other, all the while they’re cooking. “People somehow managed to shoehorn 31 hours of activity into a 24-hour day”, said Kirmani.

This trend is significant for marketers because most of these multitasking tasks involve television plus another activity, whether it’s reading a newspaper, surfing the Internet or talking on the phone giving us therefore a mix of clutter wars and span wars. When you have cases like these, than the question arise which activity is getting primary attention? It’s hard to evaluate levels of engagement.
“We know people are watching with shared attention and that the trend is especially strong in women” said Ehmer. “But we don’t know to what degree it’s less-than. We’re still struggling to understand the realities of this concurrent media usage. However two things we know. This kind of multitasking does not apply only to young people, as was once believed and secondly the amount of time spent multitasking is rising across the board in all demographics.”
While consumers have become more informed and looking for more and more insperiences (experiences that create the WOW!), becoming increasingly cynical to traditional advertising tactics in the process, the client is now demanding more action and accountability from the same.

Asad Qureshi, GM, Media Max – Ary Digital says “We still nod with the statement “I know half my advertising expenditure is wasted. Trouble is I don’t know which half”. It’s ironic because with the advent of media fragmentation and channel hopping, the premise that even half of that works, is beginning to look like an over-estimate”,

For advertisers, the challenge therefore would be to get their message across in one medium while the consumer is active at the same time in several others. The buzzword these days is “engagement” — as in how engaged, or involved, the consumer is in a particular activity.

This is where the ‘New Media’ comes in.

Brand The Experience

“There are two reasons why we now need a new creative strategy. Audiences are changing and technology is changing. … and technology is increasingly shifting towards empowering our audiences, transferring control from us to them, letting them consume what they want, when they want, letting them participate”, says Ehmer Kirmani, CEO Media Ideé. “We can safely say that the era of mass media is slowly giving way to one of personal and participatory media.”

In the past, consumers usually were at the very end of the business process. Now, with the internet, the mobile phone and the ever-more-amazing array of new services, consumers have moved centre-stage. Our industry has always considered the customer to be kings but with the advent of these technologies the consumer is transforming into the ‘Informed Monarch’ or even a ‘Brand Brother’ (aware of everything that goes on with the brand).

Ehmer Kirmani, CEO, Media Ideé says, “The consumer’s power has never been so unrivalled before in the history of media to edit out or altogether avoid advertising courtesy of a wide variety of technologies. More of the same is certain to follow”.

The clients are recognizing that the way people are consuming traditional media is changing, and the money is going to follow that.

“More and more clients are looking for what I call Brand Maximization.”, said Ehmer Kirmani. “This is different from Brand Activation from the way we know of it, because here activation platforms have been made limited to events only. Maximization means taking the brand into all the ideal mediums possible…taking the brand’s equity into Branded Entertainment, Events, PR Activities, Experiential Marketing, Interactive, anything which strengthens the relationship between brands and consumers”.

The reason behind new media is simple. You have to make the consumer experience the brand and ATL cannot do that. Ground level activities are needed for that with which you can target your core consumer.

New media is also important as it gives you a singular platform and allows you to be interactive with your customer. The purpose behind it is to communicate directly with the end consumer who is increasingly being driven by entertainment, news and celebrities. They are increasingly editing out brands that fail to entertain them and as such the current brand communications are in danger of falling into the ‘heard it before’ pit.

“An activity such as Tapal’s Chai Banao makes your consumers talk. It excites them. It also develops your credibility that that these things do happen and people do win great prizes”, said Haroon commenting on Tapal’s recent activity.

“Previously the bigger companies used to have 90% of their budgets in traditional advertising. Now it’s 70%. More and more the focus is towards ‘on-ground’ activities’ like Dawn Lifestyles. For Dawn, it’s also a natural extension what we’re doing. We’re a vehicle for advertisers. In the shape of Dawn lifestyles that vehicle adds more for our advertisers”, said Ali Naqvi.

Such entertainment offers the opportunity to bridge the gap of ‘What’s in it for me?’ between the company and the consumer. It differentiates you from the other ‘boring brands’ out there and creates a pull effect.

Crossing All Lines

The rise of using celebrity endorsements in recent years illustrates the growing appeal of the Pakistani consumer towards emulating their ‘favorites’, those whom they see on the media. The problem with celebrity endorsements, however, is that in most cases the celebrity over-shadows the brand. In recent years, this has been demonstrated amply by Tapal and Moin Akhtar, Walls and Ali Azmat / Strings or Bakeri with their last communication featuring three celebrities. In each the brand got lost amongst the communication. This trend has been amongst the prime drivers of the shift towards ‘create your own entertainment’.

New media as we have mentioned before encompasses many shapes. However the most dominant one in Pakistan has been Branded Entertainment, which is also what we’ll take up as our study.

Branded entertainment (sometimes referred to as product integration or strategic entertainment) can take many forms. It is not just merely showing fashionable women or people using the product on a show. Branded entertainment is best defined as where a brand creates consumer entertainment that would not have existed without that brand and where consumers actively choose their involvement.

Its recent resurgence coincides with the rise of reality television, where a lack of scripts and a focus on “real world” situations lend themselves to the integration of products and brand names. At its most basic, branded entertainment can take the form of passive product placement, such as the prominent depiction of the Coca Cola name and marks in the program American Idol. In other cases, the product is integrated into the “storyline” for the program.

Sometimes, branded entertainment appears as a form of sponsorship, with marketers like Mobilink attaching their names to programs such as Jazz Icon. Meanwhile, other marketers attempt to combine a variety of these elements, as BMW internationally demonstrated by launching a host of BMW movie films.

“You can no longer satisfy the consumer with just visual communication. There has to be this form of experimentation because of Habituation and branded entertainment satisfies.” said Waqas Shahid, Group Head, Strategic Planning, BBCL.

However, the biggest reason for this rising trend of branded entertainment has been the lack of measures & metrics about what the core audience is watching, at what times and when. A problem usually cited to the lack of people meters in the country.

“You put in a lot of money and there is still no proper measurement… that’s unforgivable in marketing”, said Haroon.

For new converts to this form, there is usually an initial hesitation to adopting a non-conventional medias on grounds of reach, cost, lack of measurement and doubts on implementation capability. However, once the concerns are allayed and they actually implement a project, they are fully converted to the cause.

“Most of all what the clients want to be convinced on is the agency’s ability to implement the initiatives and to establish the right metrics”, said Asad. “The biggest enabler in non-conventional media is to adopt a communications approach (rather than reach, frequency, GRPs) and to articulate an activation platform for a brand. After that it is all about the ideas and the implementation ability”.

How do we measure the impact of these media though? “The non-traditional media is too large a field and no cookie-cutter analysis would work here. The operating principle should be: ‘plan, do, measure, learn and repeat what works”, said Asad.

Zia suggests a way to measure these activations however through the 3E process, using pre-defined metrics for Education, Experience and Engagement. He also suggests that any activated platform also requires constant investment. An ideal example in this case is of Commander Safeguard. They came out with new stuff all the time and generated excitement.”

In the case of Tapal e.g. they will follow the ‘Chai Banao’ activity with a floating kitchen activity especially into areas where viewership of Television is not strong and will also break Family Mixture ‘Khushi Kay Lamhaat’ soon to build the brand further.

Traditional Media – A Part of New Media

Clearly, Pakistani marketers are now exploring new ways of reaching out to target audiences with the help of these new media techniques. More and more brands are now moving into targeted niche segments and non-traditional media is definitely going to be the road forward to reach these niches. We can say that the concept of media syndication has arrived. However it would be just as ill-advised to completely dismiss traditional techniques as it would be to ignore the fact communications will never be the same as they were.

Despite the need to reach out and do one-on-one marketing, mass media’s decline has been overstated. There especially have been many talks of a demise of the 30-second spot, the bread and butter of media agencies in Pakistan.

“We are literally witnessing a revolution in the marketing world as the dominant importance of the 30-second commercial fades away and new forms of customized commercial content appears on the media horizon”, said Asad.

“There are quite a few examples that non-traditional media works. The debate to avoid is the one between traditional media and non-traditional media. Both work. It’s up to the brand, the market situation and its objectives which should decide which mix to use. Secondly, remember branded entertainment will never be used to promote consumer promotions.”, said Fouad.

“Short communications drive impact and can generate top of mind recall but do not deliver the brand message. The brand message has to come out and for that the 30 sec spot is ideal. Therefore it will not be lost as is currently thought. It will become just another part of the 360 instead of dominating the media platform as it does now. The future marketing communications will be a combination of all these different platforms and will be derived from the personality of the brand”, he added.

“Innovative marketing strategies will continue to impact and influence consumer purchasing behaviour”, said Salman Altaf, BM, Maggi, Nestle and “Brand integration in all forms of entertainment will continue to see success, but this does not mean that the television commercial is dead.”

Clearly, in just a few years from now, mainstream network television will not be as central to advertising-agency business as it is at present and the 30-second will lose its dominance. But I would warn against the common enthusiasm for premature obituaries. As long as TV will remain a unique source of information, of entertainment and education that continues to attract family audiences for several hours each day, ‘traditional advertising’ will remain an essential vector of campaigns.

According to Haroon, Tapal will maintain their spending on ATL channels, but definitely increase our spending on new media.

Traditional Media In The Increasingly Non-Traditional World

Media in Pakistan currently is enjoying an unprecedented boom right now. Channels, Radio, Music, all are growing at a rate that was unthinkable even a decade before. Perhaps it is this reason that most of the media companies are becoming increasingly blind to the oncoming train.

Since the dawning of the internet, the world has increasingly seen a gradual transition to what might be called the age of personal or participatory media. The culture is already familiar to teenagers and twenty-somethings, especially in the richer countries of the world. Mature people usually just find it puzzling. Calling it the ‘internet era’ is not helpful. By way of infrastructure, full-scale participatory media does not presume on the availability of the ‘internet’ as much as of broadband and even then not of the common DSL that is available to all and sundry now.

The obvious benefit of this media revolution to the world will be what Mr. Saffo of the Institute of the Future calls a ‘Cambrian Explosion’ of creativity: a flowering of expressive diversity on the eponymous proliferation of biological species 530m years ago. According to Chris Andersen, editor of Wired magazine, “We are entering an age of cultural richness and abundant choice that we have never seen before in history. Peer production is the most powerful industrial force of our time”.

This new media culture can be witnessed through the actively ‘consumer generated content’ like blogs, wikis, podcasting, photos, videos or even social networking sites that have become the backbone of the new media companies such as Yahoo! Google and even EBay.

The effects of these technologies and changing information patterns have been felt in many areas including newspapers in the west, where circulation has been steadily falling since 1990 (Source: The Economist). The trend in other countries is pretty much the same. Most young people, the core audiences of many brands, now do not read the newspaper at all, preferring the internet for information instead and the trend is rising in Pakistan as well. There’s an alternative on the internet for everything that ‘traditional media’ can throw from internet radio to online videos.

Now before we proceed, it should be kept in mind, however, that since video never did kill the radio star and radio never replaced print, it is unlikely that non-traditional media will phase out traditional media completely. However, in the coming years, non-traditional media will definitely grow faster than any other medium.

This has profound business implications for traditional business models of the media industry, which are based on aggregating large passive audiences and holding them captive during advertising interruptions.

For the Pakistani marketers, it means understanding that now the consumers are empowered by technology and can choose what they want to consume especially on television. That is why more experimentation with the new media field will be required.

For the channels, it means that they will have to consider changing their revenue models slowly by reducing the number of advertising slots per program with higher charges per slot or move to an exclusive “brought to you by” advertiser model where only one advertiser participates in each show or program.

For the agencies, they will have to learn to answer to the greater awareness and greater volatility of the new consumer, The same technologies that empower consumers by giving them additional choices also makes reaching them with a mass approach more difficult, forcing more one-to-one marketing. Not only will they have to deal with more and more consumers, but, perhaps paradoxically, they will also have to plan more cluster based marketing and then as time goes by, more and more highly individually targeted campaigns. Unless ad agencies in Pakistan move to inculcate these practices into their future marketing efforts, the agency of the future will be described as “is it still around?”

Why am I espousing these ‘new media’ techniques? Allow me to let Fauzan answer that question.

“My answer is always a simple one: Ease of access along with metrics. Television programs sell. No doubt about that. But A) it’s a major investment, and B) the scope is limited. In terms of diversity of content, WeCite would e.g. always be miles ahead of the Muzik. Eventually, you’ll get tired of the songs and switch the channel. WeCite however takes away the remote control from you and gives you an all in one deal… every month! Not to undermine the channel as it is, but we have the edge in diversity and that goes for any good magazine or source of information online. You are given so much choice within a framework of one URL. How many channels provide that? Secondly, I can tell you exactly how your promotion is doing on a day to day basis. WeCite e.g. gets 9,875 (average) unique hits per day, with over 300,000 hits in May 2006 alone, out of which Pakistan accounted for 61,723. TV can’t do that right now.”

Our media industry is becoming increasingly passive in an active world and behaving in an opposite way than it should. In my opinion, the future belongs to the smaller and fresher companies, which have not yet crystallized or frozen in structure. I myself have no idea of what the future will be, but I can guarantee you that three key ingredients will be needed: change, change and change.

Connecting To Your Lifestyle

Published Dawn Lifestyles Supplement, Nov 20th, 2009

Mobile phones already empower people to readily connect to others and things they care for the most, enabling the freedom and excitement of the connected lifestyle, where communication & sharing is instantaneous, entertainment options abounds & power is in the palm of your hands. The new mobile phones launched this year promise to build upon this even more, with ever greater integration into our lifestyle and technology that revolves around our every need, fitting our life like a glove. Which features are right for you? Take a look.

For The Fashion Divo & Diva

Mobile phones have now become every part the fashion accessory perhaps even more than jewelry, watches or shoes. This is why mobile phone manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice of the desire for style to match substance and why some of the world’s leading fashion and design houses have added an extra level of class to the phones this year.

After delighting the fashion world with the Giorgio Armani phone in 2007 and the Emporio Armani “Night Effect” in 2008,

Samsung Armani

Armani has fashionistas in a tizzy looking out for the Samsung Giorgio Armani B7620, a latest by the famous house. Designed by GiorgioArmani himself, the phone features a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen which utilizes AMOLED technology. Additional features include a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, 8GB of internal storage space and a microSD slot (supporting cards of up to 32GB in size). It’s only available at selected outlets and if you find it, expect to pay in excess of Rs. 90,000 for the phone. Have we commented how lovely it looks with those Armani Suits.

For mere mortals, looking for style without having to amputate a kidney however, look to the Nokia SuperNova line of fashion phones and stylish accessories like red & pink covers and bluetooth headsets. The 7310 (Rs. 11,200), 7510 (Rs. 14,200) and 7610 Nokia 7610(Rs. 15,300) feature good looks and exchangeable covers with mirror finishes to the screen, very handy for lipgloss lovers. The star of the series the 7610, is a slider which matches your mood and never misses a beat, gliding effortlessly into clutch bags. It also sports a decent 3.0 mega pixel camera and 2 GB space for your music.

Sennheiser BluetoothAlso perfect for fashion-forward customers, Jabra accessories are all the rage and if you’d like something special, try the Sennheiser VMX 100 Headset (Rs. 7500).

For The Social Butterflies

Most of us now view our cell phones as the key to our social life. Take it away and it feels as if the threads connecting our social life have been cut or at least worsened substantially. This is the reason is why companies spend so much money on catering to the continuously connected consumer lifestyles.

Blackberry Curve - Gemini

One of the best phones to incorporate a complete set of messaging features includes RIM Blackberry Curve 8520 aka Gemini(Rs.25,000). A full QWERTY keyboard makes typing and sending messages easy and comfortable, whilst the bright screen displays over 65,000 colors, providing a great viewing experience. With BlackBerry App World, you can also get breaking news and the latest scores, stay on top of Hollywood gossip, enjoy live radio or just play games. The phone also allows you to take photos or videos and upload them to photo sharing sites like Flickr or social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace . You can also send these to friends through MMS, the BlackBerry Messenger or other instant messaging apps. The same features can be found in other messaging phones like the Nokia N97 (Rs. 50,000) but at a much higher price.

Samsung StarFor turning heads, look to the Samsung Star (Rs. 14000) also known as the poor man’s iPhone, which offers a 3″ WQVGA touchscreen with Samsung’s widget-enabled TouchWiz and a 3 megapixel camera with smile detection. It can handle microSD cards up to 16GB and with DNSe technology it’s a music player in its own right. The document viewer doesn’t hurt either. Samsung’s announced a WLAN version of the phone which will be available soon too. Nokia’s tried to answer Samsung’s Challenge with the 5530 Xpress Music but at a much higher price.

For The Technophiles

Photography, music and internet are so 2008. Now there is a need for something revolutionary, that caters to the fact that the cell phone is becoming our new form of entertainment provider with both gaming and watching videos being on the rise on the phone and natural linguistic interfaces.

There are many phones which are aiming for taking the innovation lead in the mobile world especially the Samsung Omnia HD Samsung Omnia HD(i8910) (Rs. 55,000) with its 3.7″ OLED capacitive full touchscreen, 600 MHz ARM Processor, an 8 megapixel camera that should be able to humble even some digicams and of course the HD video recording in 720p – does it really get any sweeter. There’s also Samsung Jet with its 800 MHz processor.

However, even then our heart still beats faster by the iPhone 3GS, which is still smoother, faster, and more reliable than any of the phones out there. The phone features faster performance than its predecessor iPhone 3G, a video camera, voice control, and GPS maps with compass. Apple this time has supercharged the CPU, jacking up the processor numbers from 412MHz to 600MHz,iPhone 3GSdoubled RAM from 128MB to 256MB and has swapped out the previous graphics chip for a new version — dubbed the PowerVR SGX — which adds support for more robust visuals via OpenGL ES 2.0. The 16GB version of this sweetheart is priced at Rs. 65,000.

However for a more price-performance value equation phone, nothing beats the more powerful version of the N95, the Nokia N86 (Rs. 39,000). The phone is fully loaded, featuring an 8-megapixel camera that takes excellent pictures and include advanced options, such as a wide-angle lens and variable aperture. It’s also a capable smartphone and offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G support along withNokia N86 entertainment options whilst delivering on quality.  A must-mention in this category is also LG’s Renoir (Rs. 34,500). This touch screen phone, features a super-sharp 8 megapixel camera with a list of features which are only found on extremely high-end standalone cameras, such as Schneider-Kreuznach certified optics, a Xenon flash, auto and manual focus, sensitivity up to ISO 1600 and geo-tagging.

For The Professional Lifestyle

Gone are the days of traditional office workers tied to their desktop PCs, ready to clock in their typical eight-hour workdays. Now the shift from the predominantly deskbound workforces to enterprises full of roving employees is a budding reality and phone makers have launched phones catering to these knowledge workers.

HTC Touch ProAt the extreme end of this category are the HTC Touch PRO (Rs. 64,900) and HTC Touch HD (Rs. 71,000) phones. The HTC Touch Pro line brings together elegant touch screen response with the direct precision of keyboard entry, delivering a powerhouse   communication tool in a beautiful, compact design. Both phones feature HTC’s rich, touch-responsive interface, TouchFLO™ 3D, which provides a stunningly intuitive way to zip through common tasks like messaging, calendar checks or making calls.

The 2.8-inch VGA touch screen in PRO provides four times the resolution of most smart devices, making email, documents and web pages sharper and easier to work with than ever before, whilst the Pro HD version sports a 3.8” WVGA screen on which you can enjoy music videos, films and streaming like you never thought possible on a mobile device.

For most professionals however, RIM’s Blackberry range of phones especially the Bold & Pearl are still where it’s at. At the lower end, Nokia’s line of Enterprise Edition phones such at the E75 and the E62 are also worth looking into.

Is Nokia The Next Motorola?

Nokia recently posted its Q3 2009 results and to say they’re disturbing would be a gross understatement. While net sales and operating profit didn’t fare well being down 1% and 4.4% from the previous quarter, the real startling figure is how Nokia is doing now compared to the same time last year. With a net loss of some 559€mm ($833.9mm USD) and sales tallying 9.8€bb ($14.62bb USD), YoY net sales were down 19.8% while operating profit plummeted a jaw dropping 57.8%.

Last year too in the smartphone category,in Q4 2008, Nokia’s smartphone sales had dipped a whopping 17 percent to 15.6 million units. As always, one company’s loss is another’s gain and no two companies highlighted this fact more than more than RIM and Apple. Both more or less doubled their smartphone market share, which than stood at 19.5 percent and 10.7 percent respectively. Apart from the big three, sales of HTC devices were then up 20 percent while Samsung saw its sales increase by an amazing 138 percent to 1.6 million units. Still, they each only commanded modest stake in the smartphone market at 4.3 percent and 1.8 percent respectively at the time.

This year, In terms of market share, Nokia neither lost nor gained ground having managed to hang on to its estimated 38% market share despite pushing approximately 108.5 million devices. Still, this does not change the fact that Nokia’s handset sales are down 8% as the world’s consumers focused their attention on devices made by other manufacturers.

The biggest gainer overall this year…Apple. Its financial results for the fourth quarter 2009, have beat out the predictions. This quarter has seen Apple hit its best results in the history of the company, boasting a rather hefty $1.67 billion profit. The results, found here, show that Apple managed just short of $10 billion in revenue, at a total of $9.87 billion. Apple sold 3.05 million computers during the quarter, giving it a 17 percent unit increase over the previous Q4 results. Additionally, the company sold 10.2 million iPods and 7.4 million iPhones, representing an eight percent unit decline and a seven percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter, respectively. Even LG’s managed better. Now with Palm’s amazing Pre and Android taking over almost all manufacturers, will Nokia will go the same way as Motorola especially since their initiative to make Symbian OpenSource has thus far proven ineffective?

This was the reverie I was in whilst at the launch of the new Nokia E72 Handset at Karachi, Sheraton today. Anyway, first the formalities:

nokia e72


Built on S60 3rd Edition FP2, the Nokia E72 is optimized for messaging and e-mail with a full messaging keyboard and support for EGPRS, WCDMA, HSDPA/HSUPA (3.5G) and WLAN. The device features two customizable Home Screen modes, active noice cancellation and a 5 Mpix autofocus camera. You can write messages with intelligent text input, enjoy videos, music, and graphics on the 2.36” QVGA display. Additional features include GPS and Nokia Maps 3.0, UPnP, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, and USB 2.0 High-Speed.

About Nokia E72
The E72 builds on the formula from the hugely successful Nokia E71, Nokia’s best selling QWERTY device to date. This latest arrival in Nokia’s Eseries family maintains essential elements of its predecessor, whilst still improving its capabilities in a number of areas.
“Despite the outstanding market performance of the Nokia E71, we still continually look for ways to enhance the device,” said Trude Gajland, Category Head Nokia Eseries, MEA. “So we included the desktop like email experience from the Nokia E75 and gave it a new optical navigation key for more intuitive scrolling through menus, emails and fast panning of images. We also upgraded the camera to 5 megapixels and added a standard 3.5 mm audio jack.”
On top of these developments, for the first time, owners will be able to set up instant messaging (IM) accounts provided by Nokia Messaging direct from the homescreen. In just a few steps, device owners will be able to connect to their favorite IM accounts such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Ovi, amongst many others.
These new IM features are complimented by Nokia’s range of email solutions with a lifetime license for Nokia’s mobile email and IM service, Nokia Messaging, as well as onboard clients for Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. Accessing popular accounts such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Ovi Mail and thousands of other email service providers is simple through improved on-device email setup, with the same easy to use UI integrating all of the owner’s corporate email accounts as well.

Other notable features which have been included in the Nokia E72  include A-GPS and compass with integrated Maps, including lifetime walk and 10 days of turn-by-turn navigation if activated within the first three months. Conversations are also clearer with active noise cancellation, and a torch can be activated with a single press of the spacebar key. The office capabilities have been updated with a new version of Quickoffice, which delivers Microsoft Office 2007 compatibility as well as free version upgrades when new features become available.

For further information, the RAM is 256 MB and the processor is clocked up to 600mhz but it is still an arm 11. Finally Nokia arrives to the 600 Mhz category and even then half-heartedly. Whew! Now let’s review what I think of the launch.

According to the Imran Khaild, GM Nokia, Nokia is not trying to displace the 25000 or so Blackberry users in Pakistan. Instead Nokia wants to use a 40,000 PKR phone to cater to the ‘Consumer Market’ as well as the ‘Corporate’……

Correct me if i’m wrong here. It’s one thing that Nokia’s having trouble penetrating the Pakistani corporate market (and even international i’m supposing) due to international policies, IT Policies and the first mover advantage by BB with the Pakistani telecoms. However, the belief that the E-series can cater to a  consumer market requires serious re-thinking. In a world dominated by affluent teens and young adults who thrive on IMs, SMS and increasingly social networks on their phone (incidentally Facebook App on Nokia is the worst i’ve used) are being targetted via a 30 year old technology whose behavior requires that a person think

Copyright @ SenseApplied 2009

10 Points For Guessing Right. Which Is The New Phone? Copyright@SenseApplied 2009

and reply in a more fuller answer than 160 characters. Not the behavior observed in our youth.There’s also a reason why though 300 million people have tried mobile email, only 10% have retained their accounts there (source: Gartner). Mobile behavior is just not conducive towards email messaging beyond short messages and reading. Yet Nokia believes it can cater to the 80% of the people who still don’t have email accounts when they (the people) have already jumped to technologies like SNN and SMS for most of their needs. Anyways, let’s see if this strategy would work.

The other thing observed at the launch was regarding the nature of the questions and general discussion over lunch. The most popular questions asked at the launch were direct comparisons to the iPhone or its features especially touch (to which Imran replied they want to produce touch for the mass market than an elite market…..). This reminded me about Apple’s recent stunt. In a question as to how Apple viewed its increased competition for the iPhone, Apple COO Tim Cook said “they’re still catching up with the first iPhone”. Nokia… you just cannot do Touch. Touch is a nightmare on Symbian, no matter how cheap it is. I’ve used both the 5800 XM and a 5530 XM in my lifetime and neither gets marks for ease of use or accessibility. Both still require a stylus to use properly.

One of the FAQs often thrown at Nokia’s events is regarding number of iPhone Apps vs. number of Nokia’s Apps. Nokia’s answer usually is that we have countless apps and thus more than Apple. However, that is side stepping the issue very neatly. Apple just crossed the 100,000 Apps for ONE PHONE only. Nokia’s apps are spread over so many series and models, that none of the phones probably has more than 10,000 at best. I counted around 4000 for my Nokia 5730 on

Also If i were the brand manager at Nokia, i’d be getting serious nightmares. Instead of one of my phones being the benchmark / standard in the industry (e.g. N72 vs. Nokia 97) or even the current E72 phone being launched thought cool enough to define a new standard, i’m nowhere in the tech leader’s category. Instead for free my main competitor is gaining publicity at my expense. Though the questions were handled very deftly (full marks to Imran), it just shows that people belief that Nokia’s losing its technology lead to its competitors. Even during lunch the general conversation centered around a lot of topics but what was launched.

The problem is being multiplied moreso. The upcoming phones by Nokia are just more of the same. These include the Nokia N97 mini, Nokia X6 and Nokia 5230.

Now I agree completely that most of the sales for Nokia comes from mid-low end phones especially in the sub-continental and Chinese markets. Unlike the west also, we simply can’t afford iPhones or most smart-phones. We pay full price for ‘Unlocked’ phones rather than having them subsidized through telecom packages, thus Nokia’s offerings really makes sense in our price conscious markets. However, does the strategy of keep pumping out so called “new models” with minor differences (e.g. 6303, N95, N86, 7310, 7510 etc…) really work? Do potential customers of these phones really care if the cam has been “upgraded” or not? If sales are increasing whilst profit is shrinking, so does it still make sense to keep pumping out so called “new models” constantly? More importantly when YOY the sales results are showing that the strategy is not working, why is the strategy not being changed.

In marketing, we have a saying that ‘Less Is More’. Yet Nokia is increasingly trying to ‘cater to all markets’ and segments, not noticing that these are not the markets of a decade ago. GM had the same problem with low end Japanese imports (Chinese mobiles anyone) and premium brands and tried to get out of the situation then by launching Saturn.

Fundamentally, there are two ways to increase sales: (1) Expand the brand, or (2) Expand the brand’s market share.

Most companies focus on the first way, expanding the brand. While this might seem to work in the short term, expanding the brand will eventually weaken the brand and leave it in worse shape than before the process began. While it’s more difficult to expand a brand’s market share, this is the better way to go. The larger the market share, the more powerful a brand becomes. When a brand reaches 50 percent or more market share, it becomes so dominant that it is almost impossible for a competitor to overtake.

Perception dictates reality. Does Starbucks coffee tastes better because the consumer thinks it tastes better or is it really better?

The larger the market share, the more dominant the brand, the greater effect the brand has on the consumer’s perception of reality. All candy bars are pretty much alike, because no one brand dominates the category. Every one percent increase in a brand’s market share does two things, both favorable. One, it increases the power of the brand in the mind of the consumer and two, it decreases the power of competitive brands.

The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign should be to dominate the brand’s category so the brand itself becomes a generic name for the category.

Which brings up the sad saga of Saturn.

Here is a brand introduced by GM less than 20 years ago in a highly competitive category. In 1994, just four years after its introduction, Saturn hit its high-water mark, selling 286,003 cars. That year, the average Saturn dealer sold more vehicles than the average of any other brand. That was the year the Saturn spirit was in full bloom. That was the year 44,000 owners and families attended a ‘homecoming’ at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. So what did Saturn do next? Did it try to expand its market share? Or did it try to expand the Saturn brand into larger and more expensive vehicles? You’re right. Expand the brand.

A typical quote from that year: ‘Many analysts feel that Saturn will eventually need a bigger model to retain customers as they older and more affluent’, reported The Wall Street Journal in its June 17, 1994 issue. In the February 9, 1998 issue of Automotive News, Ron Zarella, then vice president of GM’s North American sales, service and marketing, was quoted as saying, We’re doing everything we can to get them a wider product range. In the March 9, 1998 issue of Automotive News, Charles Child, news editor, said: GM has to bite the bullet and let Saturn spread its wings. That is, give Saturn a full line of cars and light trucks as soon as practical. In January 1999, Cynthia Trudell took over as head of Saturn and as you might expect, one of the first things she said was that Saturn is definitely looking for ways to expand the portfolio. (Ms. Trudell was the first woman to head a car division at any domestic or foreign auto maker.) Two years later, Ms. Trudell was gone and Annette Clayton took over. The strategy didn’t change, however. My focus for the immediate future, said Ms. Clayton, is to prepare us for the SUV launch and to position us to grow the portfolio. The larger Saturn (the S series) was introduced in 1999. The sport-utility vehicle (the Vue) in 2002 and a replacement for the original Saturn (the Ion), also in 2002. When Bob Lutz arrived at GM as vice chairman responsible for product development, he sounded the same tune. In the December 13, 2004 issue of Fortune, he was quoted as saying: We’re investing in Saturn’s future because the inherent health of the brand is quite good. It just needs a bigger, more exciting product portfolio. Nothing helped. Saturn sales fluctuated over the years, but never reached the high-water mark of 1994. Then in 2004, in spite of the fact that Saturn dealers had three models to sell, as opposed to the original one, sales were only 212,017 units, down 26 percent from 1994. Average sales per dealer were only 483 units, half the level of a decade earlier.

The E-series is starting to sound like GM’s Saturn. In catering to the Corporate Category, Nokia’s losing its focus on the consumer markets (My Nokia 5730 does not sync with OVI Store and doesn’t work with OVI Suite 1.4 out of the box). Worse, it’s not even doing corporate well. There’s virtually no distinction between the different phones in the E-series. The hyped up Nokia-Seimens venture NSN is going the Nortel way. (Do read up on The technologies being deployed are starting to sound old. On the consumer smartphone front, Samsung Star has swept the market in our part of the world because of which Nokia’s launched a mega-campaign promoting the 5530 to contest it. Nokia Pakistan is also not bracing for the fact that operators are starting to bundle phones with their packages and whilst it’s going to be impossible to route Nokia from the low-end phones market in the immediate future (they make up over 80% of Nokia Pakistan’s Revenues), over time the sexier technologies being bundled with Chinese (TV anyone?????) and other OEMs manufacturer will create a dent in the market share as the category shifts from voice to other forms.

Granted there’s a huge difference between cars & phones and markets and times… however in my opinion Nokia is starting to sound the same tune. They’ve lost what made them Nokia in the first place ‘Connecting People’ and are trying to expand the brand into areas where it doesn’t belong using the same technologies over and over, pushing them to death in all their series until there’s virtually no differentiation – a death knell for the brand. Here’s an excerpt from their press release ‘… we make a wide range of devices for all major consumer segments and offer internet services that enable people to experience music, maps, media, messaging and games….’. Sounds like a serious lack of strategy. For what customers really think about their Flagship N97 check out Toshiba’s recently announced that they’ll be mass producing a 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor for fones in Q3 2010. Compare that to the highest Nokia 8 megs.

With the new enterprise / corporate trends like cloud computing devices, Enterprise 2.0, android, Winmo 7 (i’m really excited about this one), mobility computing, social applications, HD on phones and so much more, where do we place Nokia’s products in the upcoming smarter world especially its E-series?

Get Ready For Social Shopping

People have long shared product opinions with friends and family through word-of-mouth. Today’s social media tools enable consumers to share and extend their connections and opinions in powerful new ways even further, enough to build in a whole new layer in the sales funnel for marketers. Yet e-marketers have barely tapped that potential to leverage the opinion of consumers to drive sales on social networks.

Traditional Sales Funnel

Modern Sales Funnel

Forward-thinking retailers are changing that very quickly. Most are bringing their Web stores to the environments where their customers like to spend time. As a result, almost three-quarters of the merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide have a presence on at least one of the major social networks or social shopping sites.

Social network users are also a highly coveted group of consumers. Across all age brackets, they are more likely than average to make an online purchase, according to a May 2009 survey by Anderson Analytics. What’s more, social network users are also more likely to share recommendations with greater frequency than generally expected. A Q1 2009 Razorfish survey of social network users found that some 29% reported sharing their views online at least every few weeks, while 10% said they made such contributions at least every few days.

Etailers have already seen amazing results through social media tools like Twitter which is now becoming the defunct channel of Customer Service and a Promotion Vehicle of ‘Deal of the Day’. They’ve seen proven benefits through the ratings and reviews systems, which are already the mainstay of every e-tail store. It is now how etailers tap into this shift from a transactional experience to a social one which will determine the winners of tomorrow.

Enterprise 2.0 – Fostering Innovation

Enterprise Social Computing is the next generation of online collaborative technologies and practices that people use within the enterprise to share knowledge, expertise, experiences and insight with each other. (Definition: IT @ Intel)

Over the last few years, as open APIs, social networking platforms, cloud computing, open identity services, sensor-driven databases (such as with GPS and OpenStreetMap), or even people (example: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk) have created open ecosystems in which anyone can participate, including business, both to contribute and to consume, the Web has become the ultimate ‘people platform’ and one that is incredibly agile too, combined with economies of scale that are very hard to match. However it has thrown up its own challenges, unpredictabilities and risks which must be dealt with both routinely and successfully.

To perform well in this changing business environment organizations have adopted a more positive mindset towards Enterprise 2.0 technologies, since many enable the empowerment of the employees, making the organization nimbler and more innovative in a very challenging world. These also serve to protect the heart and soul of the enterprise- it’s knowledge.

Some of the reasons why Enterprise 2.0 is taking off are:

Protection of Intellectual Property

Employees in all enterprises are already using open ‘insecure’ social media tools. Knowledge workers use these tools for many reasons including how they fit their lifestyles, are universally accessible, easy to use and most of all are highly empowering. However for enterprises, these lead to increased concerns about ‘intellectual property’ and other information assets. This is because many of these sites have policies that effectively require users to give up their right to privacy. Also some of the sites can lay claim ownership of all content posted on the site in perpetuity (IP nightmare), including the right to share the information with third parties meaning if employees use an external blogging or microblogging site to communicate, their posts may be read by anyone, anywhere and the sites can also lay claim to the information shared which may be confidential in nature.

Thus there is a need to define balanced security measures and controls, update use policies and ensure all employees know how to use these technologies appropriately. Additionally, if enterprises do not take up such initiatives e.g. Intel IT which provided its own social computing platform, the use of fragmented internal tools and insecure external tools will continue to grow.

Beyond IP security however enterprises have learnt that there are other reasons to give employees access to Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Spur Innovation

Rick Hutley, VP Internet Business Solutions at Cisco said “There’s a huge opportunity to leverage skills and expertise you already have in your company, but the problem is finding it”. The great promise of Enterprise 2.0 is to uncover and tap into the hidden talent of an organization. Social computing if done right can address many challenges, such as helping employees to find relevant information and expertise morequickly, increasing interactive collaboration across the enterprise, breaking down silos, spurring radical innovation and capturing the tacit knowledge of existing employees.

Amongst other things, social computing enables:

– Improvement of sharing, discovery and aggregation of information

– Finding experts fast

– Expanding network & enhance career development

– Aiding real-time collaboration

– Sharing innovative ideas

– Building communities

Attract, Develop & Retain Gen-Y As Employees

Enterprises have also realized that the ‘google generation’ comes with a different mind-set than that pervaded during the time of baby boomers and such Enterprise 2.0 tools can help attract and retain employees. It’s a known fact that in traditional organizations employees may work closely with people worldwide, but in many cases wouldn’t recognize team members if they passed them in the hall.

From closed command and control structures which garnered fear of making mistakes to this new world we are now transitioning to a work-place which is more consensus driven,

informal and requires more mentoring and exploration of options. The new workers are more accustomed to working across divisions than the previous generation which was stuck in its silos leading to massive behavioral shifts in the work-place. Thus it is via using tools such as these which can help engage the Gen Y worker, connect employees together, thereby making an enterprise even as massive as Intel feel “small” and help tackle feelings of isolation. These tools can also help mitigate the impact of a maturing workforce, help employees work more effectively over time & distance and improve speeds of finding relevant information & people.

Implementation Of Enterprise 2.0

One of the approaches towards the implementation of such can be read at IT@Intel’s, which has Intel’s own Case Study on ‘Developing An Enterprise Social Computing Strategy’. However, for those who just want to experiment with these technologies, they can set on the 2.0 path with something as simple as an internal company wide blog which can be used for a variety of purposes.

In the Future

Social computing’s new collaborative technologies will provide effective channels for communication, collaboration, teamwork, networking, and innovation and in the post internet world, this is increasingly how companies will unleash innovation within their processes and secure the best and the brightest talent.

Enterprise Social Computing is the next generation of online collaborative technologies and
practices that people use within the enterprise to share knowledge,
expertise, experiences and insight with each other. (Definition: IT @ Intel) In my previous post we took a look at why enterprises adopted a positive mindset towards Enterprise 2.0 technologies.
These enterprises are facing massive pressure to adopt these new technologies because of many reasons.
The primary reason is the protection of intellecutual property. Employees in all enterprises are already using open ‘insecure’ social media tools. Knowledge workers use these tools for many reasons including how they fit their lifestyles, are universally accessible, easy to use and most of all are highly empowering. However for enterprises, these lead to increased concerns about ‘intellectual property’ and other information assets. This is because many of these sites have privacy policies that effectively require users to give up their right to privacy. Also some of the sites can lay claim ownership of all content posted on the site in perpetuity (IP nightmare), including the right to share the information with third parties meaning if employees use an external blogging or microblogging site to communicate, their posts may be read by anyone, anywhere.
Thus there is a need to define balanced security measures and controls, update use policies and ensure all employees know how to use these technologies appropriately. Additionally, if enterprises such as the initiative taken by Intel IT will not provide a social computing platform, use of fragmented internal tools and insecure external tools will continue to grow.
Beyond IP security however there are other reasons to give employees access to Enterprise 2.0 tools. The great promise of Enterprise 2.0 is to uncover and tap into the hidden talent of an organization. Rick Hutley, VP Internet Business Solutions at Cisco said “There’s a huge opportunity to leverage skills and expertise you already have in your company, but the problem is finding it”.
Social computing if done right can address many challenges, such as helping employees to find relevant information and expertise more quickly; increasing interactive collaboration across the enterprise, breaking down silos; spurring radical innovation; and capturing the tacit knowledge of existing employees.
Amongst other things, social computing enables:
– Improvement of sharing, discovery and aggregation of information
– Finding experts fast
– Expanding network & enhance career development
– Aiding real-time collaboration
– Sharing innovative ideas
– Building community
Enterprises have also realized that the ‘google generation’ comes with a different mind-set than that pervaded during the time of baby boomers and such Enterprise 2.0 tools can help attract and retain employees. It’s a known fact that in traditional organizations employees may work closely with people worldwide, but in many cases wouldn’t recognize team members if they passed them in the hall.
From closed command and control structures which garnered fear of making mistakes to this new world which is more consensus driven, informal and require more mentoring and exploration of options. The new workers are more accustomed to working across divisions than the previous generation which was stuck in its silo leading to massive behavorial shifts. These tools help engage the Gen Y worker, connect & engage employees to make an enterprise even as massive as Intel’s own feel “small” and help tackle feelings of isolation. These also help Mitigate impact of a maturing workforce. These also help the employees work more effectively over time & distance and Improve speed of finding relevant information & people.

One of the approaches towards the implementation of such a tool can be read at However, the more traditional enterprises can set on the path with an internal company wide blog. Social computing’s new collaborative technologies will provide effective channels for communication, collaboration, teamwork, networking, and innovation and in the post internet world, this is increasingly how companies will unleash innovation within their processes and secure the best and the brightest talent in the world.

Check out the presentation below for more information on Intel’s version of social computing:
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more about “Enterprise 2.0 – Social Computing II”, posted with vodpod

Enterprise 2.0 – Social Computing

In 1999, Rick Levine, Christopher LockeDoc Searls, and David Weinberger in their “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, wrote

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Amongst their theses, the authors proposed the exploring of the intranets within the organizations, theorizing that intranets re-established real communication amongst employees in parallel with the impact of the internet to the marketplace (thesis 48) which will lead to a ‘hyperlinked’ organizational structure within the organization which will take the place of (or be utilized in place of) the formally documented organization chart.

Ten years on, easy connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structures, fundamentally changing the way we do business. Driven by the network, communication / collaboration tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have changed not only how we communicate with our customers and stakeholders but also how we organize ourselves. Institutional sources like corporations, media outlets, religions, and political bodies have declined in significance with individuals increasingly take cues from one another rather than from these previous mass media outlets.

A History Of Social Ties

Social computing traces its origins to the research done in 1973 by Mark Granovetter, a sociologist now at Stanford.

Granovetters’ great insight was “The Strength of Weak Ties” (SWT) in which he proclaimed that it was weak ties which might actually be the more important ones for innovation and knowledge sharing.

Strong ties and weak ties are exactly what they sound like. Strong ties between people arise from long-term, frequent, and sustained interactions; weak ties from infrequent and more casual ones. The ‘problem’ with strong ties is that if persons A and B have a strong tie, they’re also likely to be strongly tied to all members of each other’s networks. This leads to redundancy in ideas since members tend to think alike. Weak ties however are relationships between members of different groups. These lead to a diversity of ideas as they tie together separate modes of thought.

SWT’s conclusions were that strong ties were unlikely to be bridges between networks, whilst weak ties were good bridges. These bridges helped solve problems, gather information, and import unfamiliar ideas. They help get work done quicker and better. Subsequent research has explored whether Granovetter’s hypotheses and conclusions apply within companies, and they appear to be quite robust. Weak ties have been known to help product development groups accomplish projects faster, reduce information search costs as well as greater innovation in the workplace.

Thus the ideal network for a current day knowledge worker probably consists of a core of strong ties and a large periphery of weak ones. Because weak ties by definition don’t require a lot of effort to maintain, there’s no reason not to form a lot of them (as long as they don’t come at the expense of strong ties). This is why social computing is coming to an Enterprise near you.

The Coming Era of Social Computing

According to Andrew McAfee Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. This technology has the potential to radically changed the way people interact with both information and one another on the Internet. What’s the value? It’s the ability to more efficiently generate, self-publish, and find information, plus share expertise in a way that’s so much easier and cheaper than earlier knowledge management attempts.

Corporate SNS lets users build a network of friends, keep abreast of what that network is up to, and even exploit it by doing things like posting a question that all friends will see all within the confines of the enterprise itself. These activities are especially highly valuable where the company is large and/or geographically distributed one where you can’t access all colleagues just by bumping into them in the hallway.

This new paradigm is about considering people as the engines of the organization and their knowledge and social capital as the fuel. A new kind a fuel that can’t be stocked, replaced or substitutable by a commodity or cheaper means of production. It’s also about a new way of looking at business. Like Lew Platt Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable.”.

The subsequent posts will address this field of social computing and how large enterprises are managing this transition.

Age Of Engage – Digital Marketing Strategies For The New Age Customer

ITCN – Age Of Engagement[gigya width=”425″ height=”355″ src=”″ quality=”high” flashvars=”gig_lt=1251036986151&gig_pt=1251037005802&gig_g=1&gig_n=wordpress” wmode=”tranparent” ]

View more presentations from Umair Mohsin.

Consumers Trust Real Friends & Virtual Strangers The Most

A recent post at Nielsen Wire ( said that

Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries.

According to the post:

Brand websites, globally the most trusted form of advertiser-led advertising, hold the greatest sway in China (82 percent). Following China are Pakistan (81 percent) and Vietnam (80 percent). However, brand websites tend to be trusted least amongst Swedish (40 percent) and Israeli (45 percent) Internet consumers. In the US, 62 percent of Internet consumers said they trusted brand sponsorships, placing the United States 21st out of the 50 countries surveyed.

Seems to me that companies in Pakistan should start thinking more towards digital media and brand worlds this year on… The Consumer in Pakistan is ready for the digital revolution.

Trust in Various Forms Of Advertising

Trust in Various Forms Of Advertising

Marketing 2.0 – Leveraging Facebook For Brand Building

Facing Up To Facebok

Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, Jun-Jul, 2009 Issue.



Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Thus it can be said that the phenomenon of social media and social networks is not new. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

In recent times, however technology has enabled the twin modes of communication and sharing on an unprecedented scale on what are called social networking sites examples of which include MySpace, Zedge, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook. These are changing the human fabric of the Internet in Pakistan with over 1.83 m users on Orkut and over 500,000 users on Facebook alone.

Pakistani marketers are eager to tap into these platforms. They have realized that it’s critical for them to reach the tech-savvy youth demographic that thrives on these sites. On Facebook e.g. out of the total 574,740 (Figure: May, 2009) people from Pakistan, 436,680 are between the age of 18-30. Thus social networks do have the potential to pay off big for marketers if they learn how to use it properly.

There has been ample growth in advertising on these sites and the figures speak for themselves. Eyeblaster Pakistan, a leading internet marketing company reports Adex on Facebook in 2008 was USD 150,000 out of the total USD 1.6 million (some sources cite USD 3.0 m) spent on online advertising and increasing every year.

Facebook Apps

Facebook Apps

However if we take advertising on Facebook (the most advertised site) as a case study, it has continuously produced less than stellar results for advertisers. Facebook is a social network site that brings friends together according to interests, existing connections, networks and groups. Yet while the targeting on the site is phenomenal, Facebook users are more engaged by the content within the site rather than the advertisements. It can even be said that Facebook is a little too engaging. The metrics tell the story. With historically high CPMs (current avg. CPM on Facebook for Pakistan is $0.95) and historically low click-thru, Facebook is facing a challenge to produce effective campaigns for the marketers. The graph below highlights the problem with objectives set around CTR.

EyeBlaster Data of Various Campaigns runs on FB & Zedge


Standard Banner – Average CTR Range

0.10 % to 0.12%

0.4% to 0.75%

Rich Banner – Average CTR Range

0.53% to 2.67%

0.95% to 4%

Average Dwell Time

0.41 Seconds

0.44 seconds

User Engagement (Brand interaction Rate)

10% – 40%

30% – 75%

Source: Eyeblaster, Pakistan

However this same graph might be viewed differently if the objectives of the campaigns were to be changed to ‘User engagement’ or ‘Brand awareness’ instead of how many leads were generated through CTR. e.g. in terms of branding efficiency, you’re getting your name, logo and ad in front of thousands of people for pennies per thousand. If such were the objectives, then the efficacy of campaign will boil down to the advertised content – what do you advertise that works and what sort of rate do you get? However even then it’s not as simple. The world average of User Dwell Time on FB is around 20 minutes a day (Figures: Jan 2009) with global 50% daily logins (both numbers for Pakistan are not available). The peak amount of time spent on the site tapers off at 190 minutes. That means that a ridiculous number of impressions are being spent on the same user and that will understandably will generate low click-through rates.

Another thing marketers need to realize about social networks like Facebook is that unlike say Google, users on Facebook don’t want to leave the site. With Google the goal is to redirect the user to another site as quickly as possible. Facebook’s goal is to hold the users attention as long as they can.

Tip: When creating ad campaigns on Facebook, consider linking it to your Facebook company page instead of an off page website.  This way the user remains within Facebook and can continue utilizing the full functionality.

Facebook advertising also will never be truly effective for the users who have even a tiny bit of knowledge about PCs. For example any display banner can simply be blocked automatically with the Firefox Browser’s adblock feature.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages

Thus keeping the above in mind, advertisers need to approach the Facebook medium differently. There’s a lot of focus on advertising, banner ads and the amount of traffic but to really connect to your customer it’s important to look beyond traditional forms of web adverting to see the real potential… that Facebook is a great place for relevant traffic, without the need to pay for ads! There are millions of groups associated with all kinds of subjects in the Facebook empire, so whatever niche you specialize in there is usually a collection of individuals talking about it somewhere in that world. The challenge is leveraging the connectivity of the sites and using them to form communities around products, media or services. This approach will also ensure that you are actually connected with your users.

It would be wise for marketers to take a page out of the history of MySpace, another very popular Social Network. MySpace when launched was effectively ignored by the press and digerati. They gained traction with the musicians who were just starting to get that social network sites were valuable. Based in Los Angeles, they had an upper hand. They managed to attract club promoters and others catering to 20-something urban hipsters who were looking for a tool for coolhunting. Slowly, a symbiotic relationship emerged on MySpace as bands and fans became mutually dependent on one another. Against this backdrop, the youth phenomena emerged.

What companies can learn from this case is that social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for them. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting

FB Users

FB Users

and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

All things said it also has to be remembered that not all products can be successfully marketed on Facebook. A new company or a brand that’s not a household name will have a tough time jumping into the mix, but so will established companies that don’t necessarily have public opinion on their side. It’s tough to get the conversation started when no one’s primed to talk about it and this is the challenge on Social Networks that brands must muster. They must remember that it’s not the marketers who are powerful on these sites, it’s the people and people empowered by technology won’t always go along.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place.