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Audience-Measurement

Digital Audience Measurement In Pakistan

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

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

—Frank N. Stanton (1935)”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olx-india

Online Classified Market In Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

InStore, InStyle – Marketing in Retail Stores Using Digital Media

Dawn Aurora - March-April 2010 IssuePublished in Dawn, Aurora, March – April, 2010

Over the last decade broader socio-economic changes, including growth in the urban middle class and disposable incomes have given rise to the modern retail sector in Pakistan.  There has been a marked decrease in traditional ‘kiryana’ stores, an increase in general stores and the emergence of new formats such as superstores, malls and retail chains to cater to the increasingly time-compressed consumer[1].Instore Marketing

Even a few years back, the concept of in-store marketing did not exist in this country. Yet today due to the fragmentation of traditional media and the tremendous clutter of information assaulting today’s consumer, stores are emerging as a viable alternative to the challenging mass-market advertising environment. They’ve quietly become a hotbed of advertising activity as more and more brands, big or small shift to in-store advertisement, providing effective and direct communication to the customers.

“Currently all our marketing activities are sponsored by our suppliers. Roughly speaking [instore marketing] accounts for 2 to 5% of Makro’s revenue. Instore marketing also include Makro-mail, which is fortnightly published and distributed to top 5000 customers as well as to all concerned suppliers and stakeholders.” said Salman Zafar, Asst. Category Manager at Makro Pakistan.

Research indicates that over 70% of decisions are made in-store or at the ‘First Moment Of Truth’[2] which is why marketers are increasingly seeking ways to control what ad messages their customers see and what information they access for making purchase decisions increasingly through digital media – one of the primary digital vehicles being used in-store is Digital Signage, one of the staples of modern trade outlets.

Through the use of Digital Screens / Retail TV and Interactive Kiosks, marketers are increasingly targeting consumers looking to learn about new product offerings, recipe ideas, advertised specials, etc. Fast Moving Consumer Goods brands in food, dry food and non food segments are most active industries in this space and actively use digital signage to differentiate their brands and provide customers a break from the rather mundane shopping experience.

Amongst the innovators in this category, has been Dalda Foods Pvt. Ltd. Recently in Ramadan, they launched an ‘Activation’ across Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad using Digital ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Interactive Kiosks. Using touch screens to provide instant play, software to control the inventory and multimedia to add excitement to their consumer offer (play and win on buying 10 KG of Dalda’s products), Dalda added entertainment to an otherwise mundane activity and the results of the activity backed their decision. In an otherwise crowded marketplace, these kiosks helped Dalda to differentiate from all the other brands out there using traditional formats.

Similarly, a high-end beauty products company utilized this medium to interact with their customers too. Using motion sensing technology called ‘Eye-Sense’ developed by Tuesday Digital, the digital characters would call out to the passerbys and get them to interact with the screens and products of the company. Aside from FMCG, PSO has also setup digital screens at its pumps, whilst banks such as Standard Chartered are experimenting by setting up live kiosks at their branches to give their customers a demo of their online banking facility.

These companies are not the only ones. Realizing the gains from going digital, retailers too are jumping on this band-wagon. Originally viewed as a potential incremental revenue stream and a way of sourcing more marketing rupees from brand manufacturers, digital instore formats are now also being seen as a way of differentiating the shopping experience and promoting their own offerings.

“Currently digital signages are not there in Makro, but yes Makro has plan of introducing them in future. In-store media can provide us with an effective way to increase revenue, both through higher average shopping baskets per customer visit and increased customer loyalty in terms of number of visits and what they regularly purchase while in that store during each visit”, Said Salman Zafar.

Aside from Digital Signage, another digital medium which is growing is the use of Mobile technologies in the retail environment. ‘BlueCasting is a relatively newcomer to advertising but stands to greatly change the way we market. The pioneers in this field are Mobilius who have developed ‘BlueStorm’, a proximity marketing tool which aims to engage the consumers. Using the technology marketers can broadcast pictures, audio, video and text within a 100m radius ensuring a very innovative and cost effective way of spreading the messages across thousands of people who visit these outlets. Since it’s fully mobile, BlueStorm” can be used to reach out to customers for special promotional campaigns like distributing redeemable coupons. It can also be utilized to organize promotional game shows such as treasure hunt at exhibitions/shopping malls or anywhere else, thank customers on exit and get instant feedback.Instore marketin

The future of this format is only expected to be bright. If the experience of Thailand is taken as a benchmark, one can expect that by 2010, modern formats particularly large supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience store chains will have captured about 25 per cent of the total retail market, and most of the middle and upper class markets. At the same time, one can expect that the number of outlets per thousand population would decrease from the current level of about fifteen down to ten. It is expected that the share of total retail sales held by both traditional kiryana and general stores would decrease from about current levels of 95 per cent to 50 per cent.[3]. Marketers are taking note.

“I think “the last mile” is becoming increasingly important even in Pakistan as categories go back towards commoditization with an endless supply of brands and the consumer lost between their choices. Especially for intangibles like telcos where data is the only thing that the consumer buys, it is much more convenient to deliver interactive ways to select and change package plans on the go”, said Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong.

He continued “Retail is surely becoming a key “moment of truth” in terms of delivering brand experience. In terms of dedicated brand outlets, franchises and more so our customer support centers are becoming more like experience centers rather than just a sales outlet. In the rural sector, our mobile customer support centers are taking the retail outlet directly to the consumer”, Tamseel Alvi, Brand Manager, Zong

With the falling price of digital media gadgets and flexibility in content creation that only digital technology can offer innovative store technologies now allow grocery retailers to give consumers what they want: time and money savings. This is just the start of what digital can do for marketers and retailers.

“Retailers must make the jump to a totally integrated closed-loop model. To maximize return, retailers must deploy a macro system which seamlessly connects all in-store digital marketing with their POS and loyalty database systems [and if they don’t have any, they should start thinking about creating them] and in-store activation devices that connect customers in real-time to the retailer’s systems. What I’m talking about, is CRM applied at the store level. We call it transactional media, because it involves bringing together all the in-store marketing pieces in a coordinated customer-centric fashion to enhance the in-store shopping experience for consumers, increase sales transactions and build loyalty for retailers. What’s intriguing about this model is that by better serving their customers, retailers and brand marketers better serve themselves”, said Salman Abedin, CEO, Tuesday Digital.

As digital media  increasingly prove their effectiveness  — To retailers by turning their communication vehicles into steady revenue streams and to advertisers through better reach and targeting — the flood of interest and money will disrupt the status quo. This change will affect nearly all in-store marketing players, from agencies to retailers and everyone in between. Those that embrace the disruption stand to benefit the most.


[1] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

[2] Source: POPAI, Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI)

[3] Mr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani, Consolidation In Pakistan’s Retail Sector.

From The Archives (2006) – Marketing To Kids

Branding Kids
Published In Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April 2006

by Umair Mohsin

Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

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Anybody who has ever actively chosen to watch kids shop in a super market will testify to the fact that it’s a fascinating experience. These ‘little angels’ are very much the devil in disguise and quite capable of toppling the mightiest brands in Pakistan. They have their own tactics of getting what they want. Kids are very likely e.g. to slip the product they like into the shopping cart, replace your product with a competitor’s (as countless exchanges of Lux for Safeguard soaps have shown), hand it directly to the cashier, pester either of the parents or the best one – throw a tantrum right there on the spot if they don’t get what they want. The use of such indirect influences termed ‘Pester Power’ combined with their own purchasing power makes them the biggest market in Pakistan and one that is the least understood.

To date there has been no study of the potential of the kid’ s market in Pakistan. However, a rough estimate can be devised. The 0-25 years old market in Pakistan comprises around 64.9% of the 153.96 Million (Source: Economic Survey 2005) people in the country. Slicing the same percentage from the approximately 60 Million people living in the Urban sector and taking out the 16-25 bracket comprising of 8.9 million individuals and the 12-15 bracket comprise of 4.1 Million individuals (Source: AC Nielsen Data) leaves us an estimated 25 Million kids in Pakistan out of which the 3-12 years segment can comprise of anywhere between 15-20 million potential users of all kinds of products ranging from juices, confectionary and even mobile phones.

In terms of direct spending only e.g. the average pocket money for the lower SECs (B,C,D) school going kid is Rs.10 per day. In the upper SEC’s, it can reach as high as Rs. 50 per day. Taking the conservative approach at Rs. 10, gives us a direct spending potential of Rs.150 million per day or an eye popping Rs. 54.750 Billion annually in just the urban sector.

Kolsen’s Slanty & Ding Dong Bubble Gum are two examples of the potential that lies in this segment. Slanty, the largest selling snack brand in Pakistan, sold more than 300 million packs in 2005. The sales of Ding Dong are estimated to be Rs. 2 Billion a year (Note: Hilal wasn’t available for comment).

Meet The New Kids / You’re In MY World Now

Almost every aspect of today’s younger generation is different from what we might have experienced in the past. They’re growing up faster, are more connected, are more direct and much more informed. They also have more personal power, more money, influence and attention than any other generation before them. With so much autonomy and decision-making power within the family, it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy.

“This is the first generation to have a lifestyle and the segment is growing at a decent percentage. It is also the most global generation the world has ever seen. They’ve been exposed to both local and international trends since birth”, said Asif Iqbal, CEO, Post Amazers.

This is the generation which can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if not via the landline than via an SMS, a chat room or an IM message and there is no doubt that this steady diet of information, available 24 / 7 through a whole variety of channels, is playing a major role in shaping this new generation.

Ahmed Iqbal, Marketing Manager, National Foods said “Generation gaps now appear as closely as 5 years. They can take more information, process faster since they’ve been exposed to more mediums.”

“The kids know about all the content available on channels now and parents have been unable to limit this knowledge. These exposures to so many mediums have made their thinking broader. Kids now are far more intelligent and clever. They cannot be pushed anymore”, said Sabin Talib, BM, Prince Biscuits.

Says Hatim Shaikh, BM, Slanty “The kids of today are more computer and technology savvy and their ability to absorb messages and recall things has increased phenomenally as compared to the previous generation.”

This generation expects replies to SMSes in minutes. If not they get bored and move on to something more engaging. They are also used to things happening instantly and growing up on instant gratification has meant that it is also more demanding.

All this awareness is turning these kids into a NOW generation. They want things to happen here and now. They want to solve their problems now, not tomorrow. They must make the purchase now, win the game now or learn what they want to know now. Thus this is a generation with little, if any, patience. How can you be anything otherwise, if the media presents a world where pop stars are created in 4 weeks and millionaires are made in half an hour.

As with two sides to a story, the media is not wholly to blame for this either. Parents today are willing to compromise to and buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. Guilt plays a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids. The thought of nagging in the little time that the parents have with their children, is enough to open the wallets.

With all these information flows however, there are signs of worry. “The new generation is losing its creativity. Creativity now comes packed in a box. Young people once spent hours outside playing games in parks and friend’s places. They invented games, rules, played cricket, they played as leaders and war generals. No more. Nowadays, kids barely leave their bedrooms. Too few games now ask them to create the environment or the rules of play”, said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik. “Increasingly their behaviors, thoughts and attitudes are being created by the entertainment world”.

Marketing To Kids

Kids are the easiest segment to market to. Give or take a little, their interests are similar globally and unlike the adult markets where a thousand variables (and choices) can exist, the kids market on the other hand with few disagreements is a global one. Toys like Barbie, Pokemon, Beyblade or characters like Harry Potter are global trends.

Kids also make the perfect target groups, because they are old enough to have formed clear brand preferences, yet are young enough to be dependent on their parents and thus have the ability to directly influence their parent’s spending. They keep asking their parents over and over for what they want so they have a tremendous say over what gets bought in the household including major household purchases. In some cases of purchases by parents they have such an influence they may be thought of as the primary decision makers. No other generation has ever had as much disposable income as this one.

Kids are VERY MUCH brand conscious

Teens are active lobbyists when it comes to brands. Babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots, brand loyalties can be established as early as age two and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

Their brands are the symbols for an identity, offering the opportunity to be trendy, cool, rich, rebellious, stylish even sexy and thus are an integral part of the way kids define themselves. It’s the way they express who they are at home, at school even on the net but that doesn’t mean they’ll regurgitate anything. This generation is very skeptical and they have a built in B.S. alarm that goes off quick and fast when they know that the advertiser is lying. They’re very media savvy and it’s getting harder and harder to market to them….their needs change at such a fast pace.

Sabin Talib commented “Mother’s can’t force their kids to eat something anymore if they don’t want to. Especially in confectionary and biscuits, after 6 years of age, the child will make their own choices independently.”

Thus, brands must continue to surprise and innovate in their communication to keep the brands fresh in the minds of kids because once a brand hits a peak, there’s no where to go but down.

Why is it worth it? Brand relationships formed in childhood do last into later years in adulthood, giving you years and years of solid, dependable growth and revenue.

Their Dreams And Desires – How To Reach Their World

“I Can’t Stand Britney Spears. My Friends Hate Her”

Kids want security. Whether boys or girls, kid usually feel very lonely and look for connections and relationships. Therefore a fundamental factor of a kid’s life especially as they reach their teens is peer pressure. They tend to follow the herd rather than their own instincts, thus popularity and fame scores high on their lists. If they aren’t after it for themselves, they’re deeply in love with those who do. This makes them less likely to develop loyalty to a brand unless it also appeals to their friends. But mass appeal does not elicit loyalty in any form. Kids follow their peers and equals. If their identified groups shift brands, then everyone else will follow without remorse.

“Mom, I Want My MTV”

Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, fifth- and sixth-grade boys were about as fashion-conscious as their pets. Come this generation and they scorn any symbols of their immaturity, cultivating a self-image that emphasizes sophistication. They’re very concerned with their “look,” and a growing minority have begun using hair mousse and baggy jeans. This young generation wants cool, hip, and sexy.

“I Want To Be Commander Safeguard When I Grow Up”

Kids want mastery. They love doing things their way and want the same control that they witness in their heroes which incidentally we have a dearth of in Pakistan. Marketing pundits wrongly assume that kids will relate to cricket or singers. They don’t.

“We don’t have local heroes or kids celebrities. There is a big gap. They’re not turned on by cricketers or by singers. That’s basically a teen forte”, said Asif Iqbal.

Kids are desperate for regional / local heroes. They want content to which they can relate themselves with their language, their style, their choice of names, etc. They may watch cartoons like Dexter or Tom & Jerry but they cannot relate to these characters. Local marketers will need to create our own stories specially customized for these kids.

“Ha Ha Ha… that’s funny Mr. Monster Man”

Humor easily reaches across to both boys and girls as does fantasy, providing the fantasy is not too unrealistic. Kids have their own special humor, intrinsically related to their own unique concept of fun. Making your friends laugh also generates acceptability and loyalty.

Fantasy on the other hand expands the imagination. The younger the child, the greater the capacity for fantasy. Kids spend a lot of their time pre-occupied with day dreams which often star themselves as a hero of one sort or another living in a boundary free world. Characters such as Batman, Harry Potter, Spiderman all have taken advantage of this tendency to create very strong brands.

“Whatever they see on TV, they follow. They live in a fantasy world. That’s why we’ve given Prince a new look. He’s now more like a friend for the kids and someone they look up to”, said Talib. “Since confectionary and biscuits are impulsive buys, if they like and associate with the commercial or character, they will go for it.”

“Due to the massive reach and popularity of TV, kids of today are inspired by cartoon characters and super heroes and want to emulate them in their daily lives as well as use products which are linked to these characters”, said Hatim.

A ‘Today’s’ kid’s room will make it increasingly clear that the role of toys too have changed. Where once you would have found traditional toys in a 10 year olds bedroom, now in all likelihood you’ll find gaming consoles, CDs, movies, etc. The only toys that kids know of now are those linked to branded shows, ones like Pokemon or Commander Safeguard.

The Answers To Breaking Into The Rs. 55 Billion Market

“Not That Again”

Slanty was the first of its kind snack, Squeezy is the first of its kind of packaging. Even the Squeezy ad was ‘different’. Thus to reach this segment, innovation is very important.

“It’s Good. I Saw It On TV”

The life of most kids esp. urban ones is of routine including school, study, madrassah. By 5pm, escape is their deepest desire. In those two hours anything which provides them entertainment is undertaken or watched. Thus television plays a central role in their lives. They absorb more details and faster than adults do and contrary to conventional wisdom they genuinely love good ads and talk about them in their schools, at play, etc. They actually expect ads to take them to a different place and show them things they aspire to see and become. Entertainment, humor, light action and friendship are very important to these segments and they’re attracted to them.

“They’re less involved with publications than one might believe. It’s another form of education and kids already have enough of it. That’s why TV viewership is definitely growing in this segment with channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network leading the way”, said Asif Iqbal.

Therefore the answer lies in Experience and Involvement. To build a deeper relationship, interaction is the key. An engaging and involving experience in which the brand plays the lead role is the key to building a successful relationship with this segment.

“The only reason behind the success of Commander Safeguard was that no one did something like this before. It was the first of its kind animated series and most of all it was in Urdu. Pakistani kids had never been exposed to anything like it before”, said Asif Iqbal.

Asif Javed, ABM on Squeezy said ‘The prime factor is fun. It is the platform you can easily target. Cartoon characters especially involve the kids”

Why characters? Firstly, you don’t have uncontroversial celebrities in Pakistan. Secondly, with us being an emotive nation, we hate and love in a sine wave.

“The day Inzi scores a duck we hate him and the next day when he wins the matches we love him. Same is the case with singers. There are over 500 groups in Pakistan and there is none who have ever composed anything for this segment. There is no poetry, rhymes, or famous songs. Comics again are in English and mainly restricted to ‘Archie’. There is no belongingness in any of this.” said Asif Iqbal.

Thus if characters are done well, in accordance with brand values, it has a great chance that the brand will shine through, since there is not much competition in the mascot area. Characters also represent your brand, are ideal role models and most of all you own something that is totally yours forever. These characters will never die and never age. Celebrities after 5 years would probably not be attractive enough to be use as brand ambassadors. Characters live forever.

“Your desired positioning is best driven through a character. Your brand values are depicted easily. Squeezy is Top of Mind right now and the sales targets are well on their way to being achieved. Kids have actually pestered parents to get them the product”, said Asif Javed.

“Music is about who I am”

Music separates and unites various groups and a clear indicator of brand preference. Brand preferences often correlate with musical tastes.

“Music does more than simply create emotions. It creates trends. When kids like a song, they also focus on the artist who’s performing. Thus, you’d have people following the artist’s looks, behavior, speech, dancing style, attitude as well as their opinions and recommendations. This is a whole new ball game.” said Faisal Tamana, GM, The Musik.

“Mom, You’ll Never Guess What Happened At School Today?”

Campus Marketing programs are also increasingly becoming the best way to reach this segment. Last year LU alone targeted 70,000 kids and 21 top schools. Sponsorships especially are a cost-effective way of getting your message across to this segment and involve them. The kids get a better event (e.g. School Mela) and the advertisers benefit through sampling and presence.

“What You’ve Never Played CounterStrike”

Internet and Gaming too are a fast growing area but neither will be a hit without specific programming of their own. The best option right to exploit these new media is through TV and branded entertainment.

Conclusion

Dealing with kids is dealing with your future in all manners & forms, even to the point where you have the power to shape the upcoming world. That is why marketers must follow ethical guidelines and practices when marketing to these segments, as these little people are special. Dishonesty in advertising, producing low quality products just to make the sales this quarter will result in a future generation impaired in some form. Remember, kids are not as cynical as adults. They trust… a LOT! That is why care must be taken and once you have the opportunity to work with them, keep your word and enjoy the company of fun filled, exciting people for years and years.

From The Archives (2007) – I Are The Media

Whose Afraid Of New Media
Published In Dawn, Aurora, March 2007

by Umair Mohsin

Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control

– Rupert Murdoch, Quoted in Wired, Jul 2006.

In a market with a yearly ad spend of Rs. 6 billion on TV and hotly contested by 50+ local players with another 20-25 new channels coming up, the power of the networks as distribution platforms and brands is diminishing fast. On the “business” side, the old networks have no end of new competition. The market is getting quite competitive, and as happens in a classical product life cycle, the players are feeling the pinch in terms of pricing, as well as differentiation in their offerings to the market. On the “consumer” side, the people formerly known as viewers have taken control of what, when, and how they watch and increasingly they’re doing it without commercial interruptions.

The old days of corporate media based on a centrally planned dictatorship are coming to pass. The old method of we will decide what you want & need, the limited channels of information with a central editorial control, government regulation and one-way communication is being fast replaced by advances in technology and communication, so much so that now we’re surrounded by information we see and hear. Overload is a huge issue. The old-school closed networks survived because of aggregation. The channel recommended the show by putting it on the air – it aggregated the content; it aggregated the audience; it sold the ads; it shared the revenue. Life was so simple. Well, so much for that. The power has shifted.

The viewer is getting smarter, more knowledgeable and has access to more media options than he/she can consume. Time-Shifting (the recording of programming to a storage medium to be viewed or listened to at a time more convenient to the consumer) whose earliest example was the recording of TV programming to a VCR and more recent is Video on Demand offered by cable operators, Space Shifting (The act of copying digital content for use on a device other than the one for which it is was originally intended, such as copying a music from a compact disc to an MP3 file for use on a portable MP3 player, or copying an MP3 file onto a compact disc for use in a digital audio player) & Place Shifting (watching or listening to live, recorded or stored media on a remote device via the internet or over a data network) of which one example is Mobile TV, combined with Time compression (the trend that people are busier and have less time. Plus they feel they have less time in their lives for all the things they want to do) are rapidly changing the way traditional media is consumed. The consumer is no longer dependent on the channel’s FPC chart and the trends point to the fact that as with the Internet, which you can consume anytime, anywhere, the same attributes will have to apply to rest of media, if they are to stay relevant to their consumer’s lives. Infact the only thing stopping these technologies from taking over right now are habits. The older the medium the longer will it take to change.

Customers getting used to customizing things to their preferences is the least of the worries of big media and isn’t the only aspect which keeps (or should keep) network executives up at night. Things are getting infinitely more complex. The Long Tail is taking over in our markets.

The concept of the long tail is simply that technology empowers the growth of markets serving smaller niches, minority tastes and because of it individuals are offered greater choice. Generally, as the number of TV stations grows or TV programming is distributed through other digital channels, the key demographic individuals are split into smaller and smaller groups. As the targeted groups get into smaller niches and the quantity of channels becomes less of an opportunity cost, previously ignored groups become profitable demographics in the long tail. These groups along the long tail then become targeted for television programming that might have niche appeal. As the opportunity cost goes down with more channels and smaller niches, the choice of TV programs grows and greater cultural diversity rises as long as there is money in it. The implications of this concept are that specialized segments would further fragment into specialized niche segments and mass would no longer command the same ratings. Such is already happening in our media world with channels increasingly dividing into Reach Channels and Affinity Channels. Translated in network’s terms it means that as the network’s audiences shrink, they cannot raise their rates, because they no longer control the clock; Furthermore, there is always somewhere else to reach audiences — somewhere more efficiently and economically. To networks with massive infrastructural & fixed costs, this can spell a death knell and indeed many of our local channels which cannot cover their costs will go under within the next 5 years.

“Regional language channels, specialized programming, niche content, are all new ways of tapping the same households that own TV sets. Instead of the same show at the same time being watched on the same channel, we see a trend of individual TV sets, with choice programming at desired timeslots as the current viewership practice”, said Khalid Siddiqui, CEO, CNBC Pakistan. “The challenge now, and more increasingly as we go forward, will be to carve out clear positioning through high quality, captivating content targeted to clearly identified target audiences. It will be difficult for channels to be everything to everyone, and some channels will have to do a hard think about which space they intend to occupy to match with their strengths”, he added.

The Long Tail also has implications for the producers of content, especially those whose products could not – for economic reasons – find a place in pre-Internet information distribution channels controlled by publishers, record companies, movie studios, and television networks. Looked at from the producers’ side, the Long Tail has made possible a flowering of creativity across all fields of human endeavour. One example of this is YouTube (incidentally the third most popular site in Pakistan), where thousands of diverse videos – whose content, production value or lack of popularity made them innappropriate for traditional television – are easily accessible to a wide range of viewers.

Revenue streams & thus business models are also changing fast for these networks. The amount of clutter on TV is fast leading to the traditional marketing model being challenged, and CMOs are increasingly vocal about the day when it will no longer work. GEO Network alone e.g. aired more than 160,000 spots last year. Marketing saturation has created a clutter environment that people are now resisting. Consumers are so swamped by pitches that many simply tune them out and the more affluent exercise enough control that with the flick of their fingers, they can bypass unwanted advertising.

“Too many agencies, are tethered to a 30-second TV spot mentality because agencies get paid based on 30-second spots and that financial incentive keeps them from changing their model.”, said Ehmer Kirmani, CEO Media Idee. “You can whip up those TV ads, spend millions on their productions and increase those (not so) catchy print ads as much as you like, but their impact is fossilizing and the companies that foot advertising bills are increasingly aware of it.”

Haroon Rashid, GM Marketing, Tapal Tea agrees. “A decade ago opportunities were limited. With the advent of new media such as activations, ambient media, mobiles, etc, the advertising world has changed. The cable networks and the line walas too are becoming stronger everyday. I don’t know if anyone imagined just how much of a new paradigm shift will be required to work with these”, he said.

“[Because of the decreasing returns from traditional campaigns] Tapal has been increasingly experimenting with new media techniques. We were amongst the first companies which employed internet advertising by buying space on Cricinfo.com and were also amongst the first movers who used the cell as a marketing medium to create an engagement with the consumer for our family mixture brand. 40,000 people responded to our campaign in the latter. Last year we’ve increased our presence on mobile media and used this channel as a means of participation for our Danedar brand. A 100,000+ users texted in their responses. So it’s no surprised we’re already putting more emphasis on new media technologies like mobile phones & internet especially with our new website. You cannot ignore television but the clutter is increasing everyday. There will always be a weightage in each media [whilst planning for our campaigns] but [the fact cannot be denied] that new media is more economical”, he added.

Yet inspite of these warnings, the media industry is growing increasingly nascent. 5 years onwards one can literally predict that the status quo would have only been broken by some examples of product placement, a few branded entertainment productions and some forms of new media. It’s not totally the industry’s fault. It too suffers from a range of problems. There are no quality parameters for software, lead times are high, talent is rare and payment cycles are long. Piracy itself is a major issue especially since cable operators rarely pay royalties for the content they air.

Yet even then the networks are not preparing for the oncoming world of infinite ubiquitous content on demand. The “million channel universe” will include not just traditional media delivery and the Internet, but also a whole set of new devices and delivery platforms. Will they stay relevant with their existing business models is a question that increasingly comes to mind. To succeed one must quote Imtiaz Noor, the business development head of MobMasti when he says “Personalization is the catalyst of the new interaction economy over the next 5 years”.

Many in the communications industry are aware that consumers are turning their backs. “We know that things are going to change. We are assessing what is changing, what is the current state and by what time we should be ready with it. It’s not about just creating a destination. First you have to know what your customer’s needs are and their allocation of time. What needs is this medium serving? Content or technology will not make any difference if it’s just going to be more of the same that consumers avoiding right now. It’s how you use these that matters”, said Yasir Riaz, Director Brand & Strategic Planning, GEO TV Network.

Thus channels will have to determine which need states they fulfill and then will have to follow these need states and passion points. Do they enrich your life, give you control, or are just a time pass. They’ll have to answer these questions to fulfill that role.

“We will have to move from being a shopping mall which promotes window shopping, to becoming a high street, specialty store, where shoppers come by intention and spend time there”, said Siddiqui.

In such an environment it is IMPERATIVE to let go of the orthodoxy of traditional segmentation and start looking at the people as “people” rather than numbers on a chart. Mostly because traditional segmentation doesn’t really tell us a lot about the PEOPLE behind the numbers. Firms are increasingly working with LSM (Living Standard Measures) segmentations, rather than traditional SEC profiles. LSM surveys collect data on Ownership of durables, type of house they live in, the extent to which people lack basic items of consumption (adequate food, clothing etc.), the extent to which people have comforts and luxuries (regular holidays away from home etc.), the extent to which people have had financial problems (defaulting on payment of electricity bills etc.),  the extent to which people had problems with their accommodation (leaks, faulty plumbing etc.), for families with dependent children, the extent to which they lacked children’s basic items of consumption (clothing, school supplies and children’s sports and recreational activities). These combined with data from people meters and sales data, will increasingly become the future for all stakeholders – including the agencies, the brands and the networks themselves.

“The role of the different agencies will change to those of ‘real’ brand partners and research will play a critical role in unearthing insights on which brand objectives will be based upon. To this will media selection will increasingly be dependent. At the same time skillsets & knowledge will both have to be upgraded to ensure the message’s seamless integration across all media vehicles”, said Fouad Husain, MD, Mindshare.

“We will remain focused on the quality of our product – i.e. our content – both in terms of inherent quality, as well as audience targeted.  If our content fulfils the needs and desires of the audience, we will have a strong foundation to approach clients to partner with us”, said Siddiqui.

Trends are toward the rise of the digital media in Pakistan however this medium has its own issues namely infrastructure & content. Moreso the marketer in Pakistan still doesn’t understand this medium. “We go with our preferred media. We don’t go by the consumer. Right now internet penetration [which stands at 8 million users] is greater than the combined readership of all English newspapers. However the ad spend going towards English newspapers is still larger than one going to Internet. However since we don’t find internet as our preferred medium, so consumers also don’t find it interesting”, said Riaz.  

So the lesson is not that old media is dead. It’s not that new media is better. It’s not that the content giants don’t know what they’re doing. It’s simply that the media houses are too stuck in the mindset of big, fancy and being infrastructure-bound where they should understand the value of being lean, mean and constraint-free. Many of these traditional media companies will find it difficult to adjust to the new media landscape of mobile platforms and customer created content due to their investments in old-media infrastructure and business models. Make no mistake. The internet and other technological leaps are upending the media and entertainment industries in much the same way that they have begun to turn businesses as varied as advertising, marketing, retail and communications on their heads. Technology has put consumers in the driver’s seat by giving them a vast array of new choices and better information — and corporations and agencies that want to succeed had better get on board. No longer personifying the consumer as avid, mindless drones will work. Now a new equation is needed.

From The Archives (2007) – Mobile Marketing

Making The Smart Call
Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, August 2007

by Umair Mohsin

Companies spend Billions of Rupees every year marketing their products and services to potential customers in order to drive sales and grow brand awareness. Yet in today’s multichannel age, there is a plethora of ways to reach these audiences and though marketers are becoming increasingly inventive with the way they communicate with their customers, media proliferation has become a double-edged sword, and is now one of the biggest challenges they face.

Since the early 1990s there has been more than a 3000% increase in the number of TV channels, more than 1200% increase in commercial radio stations, and there are 40% more magazine titles. Whereas once mass audiences could be reached through a small number of channels, now they are fragmented over a large and increasing number of media, making it more and more difficult to engage with the people you want to reach.

With the recent advent of next-generation phones, however, now we are rapidly getting to the point where the single most important medium that people have is their wireless device. It’s with them every single moment of the day. No longer are they devices merely for phone calls and text messaging but portals that consumers can use to communicate, gather information, be entertained and organise their lives. But despite the fact that mobile phone ownership now considerably outnumbers landline usage (5.18 Million Landlines)[1], it has been overlooked, and particularly undervalued, as an opportunity for interaction between a brand and its customers.

There is no doubt that mobile marketing is coming of age. A casual survey of the advertising trends of major companies reveals that brand marketers are recognizing the increasing importance of the medium and integrating it more into their campaigns.

“The proliferation of telecom providers and easily affordable cellular phone technology in Pakistan has led to extremely high growth in the usage of cell phones by a general cross-section of the population, regardless of socio-economic barriers, gender, age, etc. Particularly amongst the youth and young adults, text SMS usage has grown exponentially. To take advantage of this new and highly popular medium of communication amongst our target market, we have successfully used it in our campaigns. This is not the first time any institution has attempted a marketing activity of this nature, and we fully expect an increasing number of institutions to explore this medium as well”, said a Brand Manager who asked not to be named.

To date however only Text ‘n’ win has been the application embraced enthusiastically by agencies. One reason for that is that not only do you not have to deal with sackloads of postal mail, you also don’t have the post-campaign data entry issues. Customers, just by entering the competition, are giving you some of their data – i.e. their mobile number. It’s up to you to collect any more data from the consumer if you need it.

For the uninitiated, a text ‘n’ win promotion is one which is usually advertised on a pack of a product, and the customer is invited to text in a shortcode for a chance to win a prize. This is a very convenient way to manage a competition or prize draw, and is popular with consumers. The recent underneath the lid promotion by Walls to text to win attractive prizes and can claim to be the biggest ever text ‘n’ win promotion to date. Underneath the lid of every Cornetto cone was a short unique code (printed at the time of production). This code is only visible once someone buys the cone, removes the wrapper, and flips the lid. Wall’s offered its consumers the opportunity to avail attractive prizes by simply texting this code to a pre-defined number using SMS (from any telecom network). Winners were contacted via same channel (i.e. SMS) to communicate the details of their prize and how to redeem it.

However, in terms of taking advantage of the full potential of mobile marketing, Pakistani marketers have barely scratched the surface. Mobile marketing is more than just things like text voting, text ‘n’ win or getting raw content like branded ringtones. What’s in its scope is brand advocacy, loyalty CRM, subscription, the areas where brands have traditionally used other channels and with our current array of mobile data services available, from text and picture messaging to direct response, Mobile IVR, promotion and mobile Internet, and the extent to which these can be applied, the future is simply incredible.

One big advantage which mobile marketing has is that it not only targets the consumer directly [100% targeted] as people never leave home without their mobile phones and rarely switch them off, but also achieves a high level of interaction as it creates a personalised, one to one relationship between a brand and a consumer. But even with all these advantages there is still some way to go before marketers are in a position where they will consider the mobile as a key part of their marketing mix.

So why, with an almost 37.58 Mobile Density Rate (58 Million Connections)[2], without factoring in WOM, a market growing at a projected 150% a year (1.5 million phones per month)[3] and with the mobile phone increasingly being seen as the centre of integrated communication for everyone by 2010 globally, has there not yet been massive take-up?

One of the reasons cited for this has been the technology (or lack of) & infrastructure. MNOs are only properly covering the big cities right now. The bigger population is still in small areas, where coverage is spotty. The networks have to grow and the boosters will have to work at that level where you’ll be able to cover the entire market before the uptake. Screen size and the bandwidth availability have also been cited as potential limiters.

The major problem however lies with pre-existing notions that advertising professionals (both clients and agency) bring to the medium. This is by far the biggest issue most marketers face with mobile – just trying to understand what it can do.

“We are at an absolute infancy with this medium and that too because we’re scared of it. It takes a lot of convincing & guts at senior levels to make this work”, said Faraz Khan, VP, HBL.

“Trying to innovate amongst people in ad agencies is always difficult, because they are always sceptical of new channels mostly because they do not know how to create and conceive into that channel. Up until now, mobile has still been spooky for them, but that is starting to change”, said Zakaullah Khan, Creative Manager, Prestige Communications.

“We have seen so many people who want to treat mobile the same as other medium, thereby missing the great opportunities mobile has by virtue of being different. The mobile medium has a personality of its own, but the first mistake people are making with mobile is to say: “Lets do the same thing, ‘in mobile’. In truth, to make the most out of mobile as a channel for marketing, we need to take advantage of the things that mobile does differently, and we need to embrace the fact that mobile has its own personality that brings the most value when it is understood and respected. Forcing mobile to perform under the same rules that all the other channels operate under limits the value and capabilities of this highly personal form of communication”, said Ehmer Kirmani, CEO Media IDeé.

Thus, starting your mobile campaign with the idea of replicating mass direct mail is all wrong. Yet even a relatively cursory look with a point of innovating on the existing marketing tools out there can soon reveal the real opportunities. Every day, marketers are running direct response fulfilment campaigns (Call for brochures, Call backs), content (through alerts), discounting/ couponing programmes that deliver customer advantages or even sales promotion programmes, all of which can benefit using the mobile medium. All of these play to the ‘always with you and always on’ strength of the medium.

Marketing Case Studies

There are two criteria for measuring the efficacy of any channel. Reach & Affordability – the efficacy and the quantification of the impact. As compared to other mediums, mobile communication is a very cost effective way of marketing and is fast becoming a very strong Sales Activation Channel.  Moreso when its tied in to CRM centres. This was demonstrated clearly by a recent HBL Car Financing campaigns. Instead of mass SMSs, the campaign targeted specific demographics, with a simple Y/ N question / response. They got a response rate from the campaign of 25% and the net additional sales translated into a total Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of only 30-40 Paisas each. As compared to other mediums, this clearly highlighted this medium’s biggest selling point. The marginal revenues were immediately identifiable.

“With intelligent application and targeting, such SMS messaging can enhance a brand, and produce great results. Furthermore, it is cost-effective, measurable and intuitive: lifestyle data in particular has a wealth of additional variables, because the way in which the information has been volunteered allows for the fine-tuning of campaign targeting like no other data can.”, said Faraz Khan, VP, HBL.

Another interesting case has been presented by The Muzik. They have successfully used the mobile phone as a Credibility Enhancement tool. The prime prospects of the channels are the youth, looking for freedom of expression, entertainment value, subtle and wild experiences. They want a dialogue with the world.  The Muzik used the medium to connect into the lives of their youth. Not only that but this tool has also developed into a penetration check and a measurement tool for all their content, which give a much better analysis than the current dairy measurement services.

According to Faisal Tamanna, GM-Business Development; The Musik, HBO, Nick and the person instrumental in bringing about this shift in paradigm, as far as best practices go simple formulas works.

“We’re entering into an unbelievable era because of the mobile phone. One day it’s not unimaginable to hold programs like Live Earth or Mega Events that span countries through the power of this medium”, said Tamanna. “The same practices that work with our existing mediums however, won’t work with this. This is why we have had to totally re-think how to develop our mobile medium. We’re looking at it to become the portal of the youth with customized content, personalized programming and even video on demand. These will be the applications of the future which will drive the growth of media consumption”.

Talking to Mr. Amin A. Rehman, Vice President, Cards Division at ARY, highlighted another area where the medium is being used successfully – As a form of Product Augmentation For The Sahulat Card. The Sahulat Card is a debit card, which consumers use on outlets like Ary Cash and Carry, Jewellery stores and third parties like merchants / brand partners.

“We’re linking into the technologies that can enhance ‘Sahulat’s’ offering to our consumers. E.g. we’re launching a 24 hour shopping channel with which Sahulat card members can call into or just send an SMS with a code to a number and their purchases will be delivered home. Sahulat card members can also purchase talking hours and their groceries through their mobile phones. But the biggest selling point is our ‘Value Back’ to customers. Our customers get free line rents, free talk time with our ‘ARY Connect’ mobile connection, entertainment through events like the recent Bhambore or Waahdi festivals and the chance for mega draws (1 KG gold everyday) & sales promotions. Mobile marketing has tremendously increased in the number of connections we make with our consumers, our awareness levels are higher, and we’ve found that people are receptive through the mobile concept more & more. That is why we have plans on furthering the multimedia side of mobiles and perhaps even more facilities on it for the customers. This is the future now.”

Mobile offers a new way to cut through in today’s cluttered media environment, combining the potential for precise targeting and the ability to extend a physical, tangible brand encounter into a digital and interactive one.  The key to unlocking the real potential for customer recruitment lies in understanding more about them and having the ability to interact with them directly. Personal is a key concept in all things mobile. Analysis and careful selection can be carried out before broadcast, and afterwards, with detailed responder profiling. Over time, companies can build profiles of their customers, and subsequently target them for highly specific campaigns, generating real and significant lifetime value.

However, marketers need to weigh the benefits carefully against the potential to seriously harm people’s relationship with a brand. Unless contact is made in an acceptable fashion, the mobile advertiser runs the risk of significant consumer backlash.

First of all consent is a very important thing. It’s simply no good talking to customers who do not want to engage with you. In order for a marketing campaign to be effective, the people on the receiving end of it have to be open to the messages, and only permission-based marketing allows that to happen.

“One of the barriers to the emergence of the market is education, but though brand managers are fond of talking about consumer education, but I would shine a light on brand marketer education, around the personal nature of the medium, the need for opt-ins, the relevance of the message. It might sound high-minded, but as a practical matter, it requires marketers to change their behaviour, and this is not easy.  They acknowledge, intellectually, the point, but struggle with executing it. I think those who live in fear of opt-outs are those who are not going about things in the right way.” said Sabeen Mahmud, COO, BITS.

“In comparison to how people manage mobile / SMS campaigns in our country, we’ve had far more success with our email lists, practicing what we preach. People have been signing up for our lists without any Push Marketing being involved and since all our subscribers have come through word of mouth and PR, their trust is higher. Secondly, when they share information about themselves, we give them an Enhanced Offering in return rather than the traditional trade promotion lines where they might feel they’re being sold too and put us on their blocked lists. The results so far have been incredible. Thus I’d say the impression you make with the medium counts and small things like the power to opt out anytime is empowering to the consumer.” said Sabeen.

The Future Role of MNOs

The mobile phone is about to go places. From Mobile TV and video to branded content downloads, the handset has become the focus for potential advertising revenue from the latest applications to hit the mobile market. This is nothing new. Such Value-Added-Services to mobile phones have been the great white hope of many mobile phone operators looking to offset the pressures of declining business from voice and text.

Incidentally one is sorely tempted to blame the mobile network operators for failing to embrace the change and working with agencies to take this medium forward. The operators have only ever been focused on their subscriber base and have seen third parties as a threat to their existing businesses. Much of the investment undertaken by the carriers has been in trying to build upon their ‘cool’ brand status, while retaining and growing their customer base.

Yet that ‘cool’ has become ‘boring’. The mobile phone is now just an essential part of our lives, and when you throw in the perceptions of the customer, the picture begins to look a little scary from the point of view of the MNO.

Customer service satisfaction levels across the network operators are low. That coupled with the news that Pakistan wants to setup its own Wi-Max networks (allowing low-cost VoIP calls and data access), and with churn (the average number of customers that leave a subscription service during a year) running at a guesstimate of 20% per year, even the most myopic telco is realizing that things are changing.

The single biggest driver for the churn is price, so people churn because they are tempted by a better deal, which means that if they MNO wants them to come back, they will do so at a lower ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) than when they left.

The way to arrest this process is by offering compelling services, and the most obvious one is partnering with third parties especially agencies to make compelling content – the new source of differentiation. For the marketers, they must take steps to understand this portal if they are going to incorporate it into their marketing campaigns. Indeed they can’t afford not to, as the small portable device that demands and gets so much attention from its users is a space that is not yet being effectively utilised by the advertising industry. Serving as a part of a balanced marketing plan, mobile advertising offers a medium whereby brands can achieve constant communication with consumers as and when they want to.

Conclusion

While all other marketing media seem to be feeling the squeeze through greater fragmentation of networks mobile marketing’s future looks rosy. There is an extraordinary and unprecedented opportunity for mobile marketing in the next few years, both in terms of the way consumers will receive commercial messages and in the way they will respond to them. This is going to be a pipeline for immediate, measurable and targeted communication and it’s bursting with potential and waiting to be exploited to the full.  They say there is no idea as powerful as one whose time has come. Well Ring Ring! Wake up marketers, the mobile’s tone is sounding.


[1] Source: Economic Survey, 2007

[2] Source: PTA, April 2007 Figures.

[3] Source: Dawn, June 27th, 2007 ‘Investment Trends Shifts From Banks To Telecom’.

From The Archives (2008) – Marketing 2.0

Marketing 2.0
Published Dawn, Aurora, Jul 2008

by Umair Mohsin

What is the future of advertising? Simply there isn’t any. At least not as we know it. Trever Edwards, the vice president of Nike in October, 2007, sounded the death knell for the traditional ways of how we advertise, when he said “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive, we’re in the business of connecting with consumers”.

Worldwide, the trends are the same. In the US, the country’s third-largest advertiser (General Motors) is getting ready to shift fully half of its $3 billion budget into digital and one-to-one marketing within the next 3 years. P&G Canada, has vowed to boost online spending from 3% of its media budget to as much as 20% for the company’s fiscal year that starts July 1. How soon before P&G Pakistan will follow suit? Research shows that 65% of all marketing spend in Asia in 2007 had no effect on the consumer. Yet still 70% of all Asian marketers are not tracking the effectiveness of their spending, many simply because they don’t know how to.

Yet as more and more consumers integrate digital technology into their daily lives, they are also increasingly exercising control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world.  Already the integration of technology (multi-screen media consumption) is changing how we look at consumers. No longer are marketers describing consumption of content as being off-line and online or traditional and new but where and how the media is being consumed. The demarcation lines between old and new media have officially been eliminated. TV is increasingly being described as “lean back” interaction, as users are typically relaxing in the living room environment with a remote control in one hand. This is in contrast to the similarly slick marketing devised descriptor of the more active, personal computer-oriented “lean forward” experience of a keyboard, mouse and monitor especially used with gaming & consoles. The third form of media consumption is ‘On-The-Go’ with services such as Mobile TV provided by Telenor, digital outdoor & POS (such as 3M Vikuiti in Pakistan) or gaming gadgets like Sony PSP leading the way. It doesn’t end here however. Technology does not change any form of content or its inherent linearity but it is shifting how we control the viewing of that content. DVRs are allowing users to time shift content. iTV such as PTCL Smart already allows on-demand media and interaction directly. Thus even in Pakistan, we have the hyper-fragmentation of the audience and more and more advertising will now have to become integrated across multiple platforms of the ‘Digital Lifestyle’ if it is to work. This is the underpinning of the rise of Marketing 2.0.

Simply put if the web 2.0 is the network as a platform, spanning across all connected devices like PCs, mobiles, gaming consoles, etc, than Marketing 2.0 is about those platforms that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of these platforms. This is very different from the old school forms of marketing, especially since the old schools were not of an interactive nature.

The oldest marketing model was Transactional (communicate what it is and what it does) in its nature. The value was created by what the company was offering and consumers were passive buyers waiting to be targeted with offers. The role of the marketer was ‘to define & create value for firms’, whilst interaction with customers then meant researches or surveys of consumer’s habits.

In the second chapter of marketing, we were bombarded with the ‘Relationship marketing’ model whereby ‘maximizing the lifetime value of the consumer’ was the end goal of marketing. Firms focused to attract, develop and retain the most profitable consumer segments over the maximum number of years.

The new marketing 2.0 model is very different. With the rise of technology and gadgets, consumers have now became Pro-sumers, active participants in the marketing’s value creation. The 2.0 version is about creating ‘Tribes’ or Identification (Who you are) through experiences. This has been brought about through a confluence of a number of trends like participation (from consumer to creator), personalization & collaboration (from pushing content to pulling content), democratization of market access (from a few big advertisers to a lot of little ones) and richer online apps (from desktop apps to the internet cloud & rich media). The role of marketing 2.0 is ‘to engage customers in defining and co-creating value’ through Active Dialogue. Value is ‘maximizing the co-created experiences’.

What it means for marketers is that consumers are no longer at the end of the marketing process. They now refuse to just consume what the marketers throw at them and want to be an inherently part of the marketing process – being part of the conversation. Infact many consumers are becoming vendors themselves of products and even of media in some cases – the role of the traditional agency. Even in Pakistan, opinion formers are popping up in the most unexpected of places with blogs especially becoming very powerful in shaping consumer responses (google ‘PTCL Broadband’ or ‘Link Dot Net Problems’ for an idea). Borders between advertising and PR is blurring.

New marketing buzzwords like Engagement & Excitement are already following on the heels of this revolution, becoming the new mantra, whilst traditional metrics such as Reach & Frequency can no longer cater to measuring the quality of engagement and excitement that is now needed for marketing to these attention deficient consumers. With the beginning of the end of mass media, Advertisers already are starting to demand more individual-specific and involvement based measurements, putting increasing pressure on the traditional mass-market model. Already in Pakistan, the Marcom Mix is shifting from Exposure To Engagement through new formats such as branded entertainment featuring reality based shows (Princess of Pantene, Lux Style Awards, etc), branded adver-games (GilletteChampions.com), branded portals (Tapal’s chillkaro.com), branded talk shows (Nido Taare Humaray), branded game shows, On-ground activations and more. In light of this trend, I predict that the majority of advertising revenue will shift from impression-based formats to impact-based formats within the next five years.

With hyper-fragmentation, the PPC (Price Per Contact) Cost is also rising over time, so more and more marketers are demanding optimized media and sales based results. Expect the 2.0 terms like ROI, Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Conversion, Sales Funnel Consideration and Stickiness to enter our marketers jargon soon.

One of the keys to successful marketing in the 2.0 age is hooking into the Zeitgeist e.g. in Pakistan, over the last 12 months, Facebook has been the fastest growing search term on Google, a testament to the numbers of users from Pakistan joining the ‘Social Networking’ revolution, whilst the 2nd & 3rd Top most searched terms this year have been Urdu (showing how much people would value content in their language online) & Yahoo! respectively. The 6th most searched term is ‘games’ and 8th is wall-papers. Goal.com is the 97th most popular site in Pakistan, lending credence to the revival of soccer in Pakistan. I don’t know how many marketers have noticed these insights. With the way things are going however, in the near future it’s not difficult to imagine, the marketer managing the impact of his campaign through a “dashboard” that delivers real-time metrics and analysis across all of their advertising platforms. Gone are the days of “hoping” advertising works. Marketing 2.0 is and will be a world where the marketer has full control of the effectiveness of their marketing spends.

The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did. Increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies will redefine how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked. There is no question that the future of advertising & marketing will look radically different from its past. As advertising budgets shift to new formats and shape the future advertising market, control of marketing revenues and power will hinge on four key market drivers: attention, creativity, measures and advertising inventories. Whether agencies in Pakistan will be able to cope, I do not know.

Traditional advertising players – broadcasters, distributors and advertising agencies – will get squeezed unless they can successfully implement consumer, business model and business design innovation to incorporate these new realities of life – the trends toward creative populism, personalized measurements, interactivity, open inventory platforms and greater consumer control. This means that many of the skills and capabilities that were the mainstay of success in the past will need refinement, transformation or even outright replacement.

The printing press did for communication what the Internet is doing for marketing. Both changed the medium of mass communication and both revolutionized the way things get done. Digital technology is slowly but surely reaching critical mass in Pakistan and already we are beginning to see a merging of the “old” and the “new” ways. The push for control of attention, creativity, measurements and inventory will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power. For both incumbents and new players, it is imperative to plan for multiple consumer futures, craft agile strategies and build new capabilities before advertising as we know it disappears. Here’s some food for thought for those who still want to cling to the old ways of advertising. Our kids are already growing up with the ability to watch pretty much what they want when they want. As they get older, do you think they’re going to accept anything less than that?

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 WeCite.net. “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.

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.