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.

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 (, a new employee (, a place to sell their mobile ( buy a plot for investment or their new home (, or even find a partner (, 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. 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 is a service that most of the Internet users in Pakistan will want to use”, said Nils Hammar, CEO at, one of the pioneers of classified sites in Pakistan.

The launch of 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 and, 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 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 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 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:

The Rise of The Data Center Industry in Pakistan

IT operations are becoming a crucial aspect of most Enterprise and Medium sized organizations in our country. As the automation of processes increases through implementation of world class ERPs, one of the main concerns that companies are facing is business continuity – what if a system becomes unavailable thus impairing or completely stopping the business process. Thus it is becoming necessary to provide a reliable infrastructure for IT operations, in order to minimize any chance of disruption. Thus Data Center Services are becoming a booming business in our country.

A Data Center (the cold room) is a facility used to house and maintain dedicated servers on behalf of an organization. It’s a concept that found life during the dot-com bubble in the US and has since then grown into a discipline unto itself globally. In Pakistan it started with the Basel II accords which separated operational risk from credit risk (meaning banks were now responsible for defaults and any operational problems that arise in banking) implemented by the SBP. Now with Basel III implementations and more and more medium sized companies aiming for enterprise level automation, IT becoming the core backbone on which business operates especially for industries such as Telecom, Banks and shipping, m-commerce and e-commerce growing in Pakistan and increasingly competitive landscape from a global community is driving the companies towards focusing on core competencies and outsourcing everything else.

The biggest reason for this change in mindset is cost. The overall IT spending shows that the lion’s share of IT expenses goes towards overhead and maintenance – as high as 70% of the budgets of IT departments are spent in maintaining IT infrastructures at the expense of adding new capabilities. This underutilization of equipment leads to high cost per transaction. Most servers in typical business data centers are utilized at only 5 to 10 percent of their maximum capacity and cooling and power distribution systems are also used to much less than their full potential.  Clearly that’s wasted capital and it makes the cost per computing transaction much higher than it needs to be. A secondary effect is that the fixed energy costs for running servers at low utilization makes the cost per transaction much higher than it needs to be.

The second factor is that outsourcing ensures access to operational expertise, much of which is unavailable internally due to economic or other restraints thus also freeing up internal resources for other purposes. These services also allow enterprises to leave the upkeep of network infrastructure and applications to the data center personnel allowing the company to focus on their core competencies. Not only does this increase efficiency, but also reduces the cost of running the network in terms of resources and manpower. Besides this, it also offers increased security, whether from environmental threats such as over-heating and dust or from viruses and infiltration via firewall maintained by the data center thus providing a high level of risk management.

The future for this industry is bright. It cannot be denied that traditional retail formats have been saturated and the present consumer environment is moving from bricks and mortar to online due to the increased convenience and a more satisfying retail experience. Many new ventures are now focusing on e-tail and need the expertise in networking and database while being focused on translating the retail experience onto the new medium. The biggest driver however remains the consumer themselves who as they become involved with the digital world more and more, will increase demands for storage, connectivity and more and as corporate turn to serve them, they too will drive the demand for reliable mission critical facilities.



Data Centers – A New Industry In Pakistan

Data Center Pakistan

Dawn Images interviews Mr. Raja Jehangir, Director Strategic Planning, Center-X Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Pakistan, bringing in a new wave of data center solutions in the country.

Q. What’s the big deal about Data Centers and why the hoopla surrounding them now?
Well, the “hoopla” has been around for a while, but only now is the industry truly examining the complexity of the data centre. The last two decades have seen a paradigm shift in the way we do business. Companies have always risen and fallen, based on the level of service or need on offer by an organisation. In the last two decades, the “computerised” environment has played a bigger role in the level of service offered, and the pace of this has been accelerating at break neck speed.

Now, It’s pretty clear that there’s an architectural shift going on in the industry. Previously businesses relied on the client-server relationship internally, processing of data for internal use, but now we are at a stage that the services a company offers are not “at the counter” but online. This has resulted on the greater dependency on ensuring uptime, right about the time where certain elements within the Pakistan infrastructure, power delivery, cost and security are being stretched. This has resulted in a greater demand for reliability, which in turn has placed a greater demand on data centres to deliver the uptime required.

The flipside of the “hoopla” is that companies are now evaluating the cost of the data centre far more closely. It is a cost of business. What this trend means is that your servers can be professionally managed by a data centre, so you can actually have a weekend and not spend all your time trying to manage your servers. It’s like having banks manage your money rather than you managing your money. Also since the networks now have become secure and the computers have become fast enough that this is possible.

Q. Why do we need data centers? Isn’t it better that companies keep their own information safe?

This is the mindset that has hampered the industry to an extent in Pakistan. This can be attributed to the early data centres in the country not maximising the business potential, and also the “client” not willing to let go of the perceived control. The issue of “information safety” within an external data centre is actually a non issue, but it is the physical parting that often creates angst. Till now, the cost associated with providing a service through ICT infrstructure has not come under scrutiny, but as costs of power delivery and reliability rise we are seeing a shift in opinion in Pakistan. Only about 30% of the CIOs in the U.K., for example, are held to account for the electricity bill, this is a trend we see here, but we forecast that we will see costs associated with data centres being audited more efficiently and commercial data centres focusing on such costs to increase their margins. What companies did not realize is that for every kilowatt-hour of IT electricity use, you have more kilowatt-hours for supporting equipment — cooling, fans and air flow. This is just overhead that doesn’t result in more computing, and the more you can reduce it the better. This is a large over-head per Kw/H most companies are paying for their Datacenters. IT departments should be looked at towards treating and managing IT as a strategic resource subject to the same cost controls as any other department. Efficiency is the key.

Q. What do you consider when running a data center?

Environmental influences play a crucial role and require in-depth analysis in advance of planning and implementation. A critical point to note is the matter of security and availability requirements. When defining objectives, it is essential to establish which hazards can potentially occur, external influences include natural disasters and accidents such as fires, while internally, it could be data security or attacks . In Pakistan, things like Uptime, Power Delivery, Cooling as in line with international flags in terms of requirements. However, we also have to contend with civil disorder, security threats and flooding, when considering a data centre.

Q. Aren’t large enterprises or mainly large companies customers have use of outsourcing their data centers or smaller companies have this need as well?

Ans. Pakistan is increasingly joining the ranks of countries with a sizeable population of Web 2.0 companies and business units of large enterprises with zero-tolerance for IT failure. Industries such as Telecom, Banks with their ATM machines for example, credit card machines, m-banking and so forth are increasingly relying on IT to be the core of their business. In shipping email is a legal document. These are the first industries that have migrated to the outsourced data center model. Moreover as more Pakistani companies become export oriented and start becoming global companies, they will need their processes to be up and running at all times. This mission criticality will lead to a bigger boom in Data Centers in the country.

Q. What is the Quality of Data Centers In the Country and are they up to global standards?

Ans. Whilst we do have some excellent data centers in Pakistan, the up and coming data centers are the ones to watch. They’ve learnt from the lessons of their earlier pioneers and are truly bringing in global standards in this country. However it is end users who must ensure that the supplier they choose is able to cater to their reqirement, on Uptime, Connectivity and items such as Civil Disorder or Terrorist Threat. Setting strict SLAs and outlining exactly what measures are expected of the data centre, will go a long way to preventing a downtime and delivering a quality service.

Q. What is trend-setting?

Telecoms traditionally had large investments in network infrastructure rollouts. We’re seeing next generation mobile and fixed networks being planned, 3G and fiber rollouts. Telecoms are increasingly fearful that they cannot survive on micro-margins in commoditized markets which is a boom to industries like ours. The great thing that’s going on in IT is automation. Anything that’s related to automation is what we will be looking back on as transformational. Also there are the additional demands on business infrastructure which are going to be coming from online video and social media, a growing B2B software-as-a-service market (SaaS) market, and the exponential growth of web-enabled mobile devices and other Internet-based offerings in our country.

We’re also seeing the beginning of Virtualization and Managed Services Model of business as Data Centers move from being a merely a ‘Cold Room’ towards adding more values to their clients. The days of getting a single million dollar client may be coming to an end and the future could very well be about serving the larger net communities over the cloud and net services. Now it will be about a million customers deliver one dollar each.

Q. What is your recommendation for companies that have decided to not outsource but to build their new data center or modernizing their existing one? Is there a rough guide?

Every organisation is different, but every organisation should be looking at bottom line operational cost. When evaluating a move ahead with in house development of data centres, do question, “What is more core business? Is it building and managing my data centre or is it about delivery of a promise to your clients?” When looking at your in house data centre, do factor in not just the construction cost, but also the cost of maintenance and power costs. The quickest and easiest way to save money and get efficient either in-house or outsourced is by using the latest energy efficient hardware at enterprise level coupled with the right power and cooling upgrades to your data center.

A good way is to drive down your energy use in your office is through the use of Smart-PCs which have a rated-power of 40 Watts, and can cater to 95% of the business user’s needs, with higher end machines used to the remaining 5%. This has the twin benefit of lowering your generator set costs and increasing the output of your UPSs leading to massive savings.

Q. For Disaster recovery, where is the best place to have your DR site?

That is a tough question as there is an element of personal choice. In my opinion, the preference would be what the Financial Services Authority in the UK advises, namely “not too close but not too far away”. There is a number of people who believe in DR sites being in a different city, I believe this to be a mistake, as the reasoning is for a city wide disaster. City wide disasters are rare and by their very nature prevent travel out of the city. I would prefer having the core team, the key element in any disaster being close to my DR site. Outside your city, at a reasonable distance, may be the answer.

Q. Which are the key characteristics of the data center of the future?

The data center of the future will be modular, expandable, flexible, with a higher level of integration between the IT equipment and the infrastructure. The two systems have to be better integrated to allow for optimum efficiency. I see the servers themselves telling the cooling system how much cooling they need, and all of this in a well controlled space with excellent airflow segregation.

Originally Published: Dawn, Images, Page 10, Sci-tech, 2nd January, 2010

To Contact Raja Jehangir for Data Center Services:

About Raja Jehangir:

Raja Jehangir Mehboob, Director Strategic Planning: After completing his education in Business Information Technology in the United Kingdom, he joined Lehman Brothers’ management trainee program in 1987. He has experience in the International Foreign Exchange, Money Market, Equities, Commodities, Derivatives, domestic Asset Management and Data Centre industries. After Lehman Brothers, he rose through the ranks within 2 years to hold the position of Senior Dealer and Chief Dealer for Po Sang Bank, one of the 12 sister banks that comprise Bank of China, where he was instrumental in Po Sang’s first Treasury in the United Kingdom. This was followed by setting up and heading the Foreign Exchange department of Sucden Financial, the World’s largest Coffee, Cocoa and Sugar Broker followed by setting up of the Institutional Foreign Exchange desk for Archer Daniels Midland, a company listed on the NYSE.

During his time with Lehman Brothers and Prudential, he was instrumental in the first steps taken by the organisations in computerised trading and pricing platforms, including the development of the first “Exchange for Physical” trading program, giving the organisations a 20 second advantage on price discovery on Futures<->Spot. He has developed mathematical trading models based on Fibonacci, Moving Averages, Momentum indicators and divergences in the market which was applied to a highly successful fund in FX, Precious Metals, Commodities and Equities trading.

The depth of knowledge skills have resulted in a concept paper being co-authored and presented at Harvard Business School titled “Quasi Equity Islamic Finance”. Additionally, he has written/contributed to concept-theoretical papers for mutual funds based on carbon credits and wind generated power, Gold and Inflation Tracker Funds. He was instrumental in developing the Dawood Islamic Fund, which based on the criteria set in the guidelines remained the top performing Islamic Equity fund with the lowest standard deviation in Pakistan while he was with the organisation.

His time in the Data Centre Industry in Pakistan as Head of Sales, and then Strategic Planning saw a growth in profits of over 500%. He is registered with the Financial Services Authority in the UK as an authorised investment adviser.

He is currently Director Strategic Planning at CentreX Solutions (Pvt.) Ltd., a company specialising in Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Energy efficient desktop computing and VDI.