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


Imran Khan Yes We Khan Rally Picture HopeThe 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”.

PAS – Aurora – The New Value Seekers


Dawn New Value Seekers ConferenceIn the last two decades, with the march of technology, increasing commoditization, increasing global sourcing and competition and increasing discretionary incomes across the boards, the consumer in Pakistan has gotten selective and buys only those products that precisely met their changing needs which unlike before  are not immediately obvious anymore. With the evolution of new forms of media, global outreach and the current hyper-fragmented channels, the marketing process too has evolved making life harder for the marketers in Pakistan.

In this new world of ‘value’ reconciling what the customer wants and then delivering on their expectations, has never been more important or more challenging. This is especially more-so, because in many of ourUmair Mohsin sectors, over the years consumers had been effectively taught to buy on price and price alone. Thus the PAS-Aurora Conference that took place at the Karachi Pearl Continental Hotel on the 20th of March, 2010 sought to answer these questions about the new consumer. If the presentations could be summed up in one sentence it would be ‘the customers are now fully in control and marketers are scrambling to understand what their customers value and the value they place on those values.’ The mood at the conference was entirely dedicated to the topic of seeking value in three key areas namely ‘the organization’, ‘the brand’ and ‘the customer experience’. It was especially interesting in hearing how the current state of the economy had altered the value equation and what the industry experts expected to see in the coming months / years.

Highlighting the changes between the old value seekers and the new, the conference started on a keynote session by Mr. Hamid Haroon, CEO, Dawn Media Group. His focus was the underlying morality that drove the Hameed Haroonold-value seekers in creating for their consumers. He minced no words when talking about the short-termism of modern industry practices including the growing number of media & agencies offering kick backs to clients which he said “undermined the advertiser, media and society”. Writing off today’s campaigns, he remarked that “Advertising agencies today are low-med sweatshops for implementing strategies created in larger markets” and implored people to find answers that would actually create value for their consumers.

The session was followed by Mr. Aly Mustansir, Chairman, Pakistan Advertisers Society, who talked about recent initiatives taken by the PAS including banning advertising on pirated cable channels and establishment of the Consumer Multimedia Index. Jamal Mir, Ad Hoc Vice-Chairman, Advertising Association of Pakistan ended the session with a talk about the challenges facing the industry including Economic, Human Resource, Compensation, the problems of Media multiplication and the standards AAP was setting in driving value for the organization and the industry.

Seeking Value From The Organization

The session started off with Mr. Atif Bajwa, President, MCB presenting his views on “Internalising the
Mr. Atif Bajwanew  value equation” and talked about how the customer should be the starting point for all decisions. Talkingabout MCB’s strategic thrusts, he spoke greatly towards building a leading payments bank including becoming #1 in alternate distribution channels like the mobile phone. Citing numbers he said already MCB had signed up 50,000 users for its Mobile Banking initiative.
Subsequently Mr. Abrar Hasan, CEO, National Foods talked about “value driven strategies to meet consumer expectations”. Citing ‘The Consumer Decision Journey’ model published recently in the McKinsey Quarterly (June’09), he challenged the traditional linear progression of consumers from awareness through familiarityConsumer Decision Journey to sales, purporting that that the traditional funnel concept failed to capture all the touch points and key buying factors resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer thanks to the “epicenter of consumer driven marketing which was the internet especially during the active evaluation phase.”

He said that “40% of the customers changed their minds because of something they saw or learnt at the point of purchase. Therefore it was imperative to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.” His advice to create value to was to Invest in customer driven channels and win in-store. He ended his presentation on the note that “The key is not change… but to adapt and survive under rapid change.”

The final presentation of the session was delivered by Mr. Farhan Hasan, COO, UG Food company, titled “The smart organisation in a value seeking world”. He talked about how value was about a bundle of services for the consumer and not price. Talking about Pakistan being a ‘Sachet Economy’, he commented that if 2/3 rd of Farhan Hassan, COOworld’s population made less than $1000 than why were marketers selling them products designed for those nations making 20 times as much. His value creation process involved targeting the aspirational classes with small quantities and larger volumes with good margins. He summarized his discussion as “high volume + high margin plus additional [sachet] volume with good margins = smart business sense”.

Seeking Value From The Brand

The immediate session which followed answered the questions as to what it took to innovate in advertising and provide value for the brand. Answered by Julian Saunders, Managing Partner, The Joined Up Company in his presentation,” Value for Time – It’s What People Really Value”, Olivier Auroy, MD, GS Fitch, Middle East who talked about “Why Good Design Never Lies” and Mr. Guy Winston, National Creative Consultant, JWT Pakistan in his presentation “Stop Talking, Start Involving”, these international experts focused on how content and delivery were the next wave of getting one’s marketing Olivier Auroymessage out. They talked about how creativity was going to be about creating content that was funny, amusing and could quickly be shared. Julian Saunders in his presentation advised to ‘Brand Play’. He referred to cognitive research that “what we remember is determined by how the experience feels when it peaks and when it ends”. He concentrated on providing simplicity (“don’t make me think”) and talked about how respecting time was also a sales strategy. Olivier Auroy on the other hand, focused his attention on how brands needed to remain accessible and relevant to consumers. He cited studies which proved that fun could change behavior for the better. He concluded with how people wanted brands to connect to their community, give them control, were friendlier and funnier.

Seeking Value From The Experience

The last two talks were delivered by Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz, CEO, Bank Alfalah who gave a thoughtful presentation on “Consumer Touch Points As Effective Communication Tools” whilst Mr. Karim Rammal, President Unicorn Consulting, concluded the session with ‘Meet The Digital Native’ advising marketers that that “…unless you bring something to the table – Inspire, Passion, Laughter, Curiosity, nobody cares if you’re on twitter”.

Aurora TeamThe conference ended on a high note delivered by Mr. Irfan Mustafa, VP & MD, Yum Restaurants on “Yeh Tera Pakistan Hai, Yeh Mera Pakistan Hai”.

If the conference has proved anything is that what really has changed is the way we implement marketing and the way we run our marketing organizations. In the oncoming world we will no longer talk about mass marketing. For all future marketers it will be vital to understand that the price-value equation will be different for each consumer. That’s when real value will be created.

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.

Digital Marketing Workshop At Karachi Mariott Hotel, 17th March 2010


It’s finally here. I’ve decided to take the plunge.

I’m offering a comprehensive one-day workshop on Digital marketing for the people involved in marketing & branding. The workshop, which will feature proven techniques for engaging customers at every step of the purchase funnel will be held on March 17th from 9 AM – 5PM and will be hosted at the Mariott Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s the perfect solution for ongoing training and continuous professional development requirements for all levels of staff, from trainees to senior execs and heavyweights.

Course description

This workshop will provide a fast track understanding of Pakistan’s digital landscape and the elements involved in developing strategies as well as the high level considerations when implementing digital campaigns.

The workshop will look at trends in Pakistan’s digital landscape, what the impact of these trends are on consumers and their media consumption, industry best practices and standards as well as new and innovative uses of the technology in advertising. The workshop also addresses the issues and challenges facing agencies and marketers in adapting their organization to the new digital landscape.

The discussion group format will enable participants to be exposed to the latest in digital marketing as well share experiences and exploring common areas of concern or confusion in the adoption of digital tools.

Why This Workshop

The ad inventory that has been sold for the last 50 years no longer works and marketers have started to figure that out. With declining returns on traditional media campaigns, marketers are increasingly looking for ways to get more out of their budgets in a media landscape that fragments more every year. Digital offers possibilities to do that.

In this workshop you will learn why:

1. Digital Is Not About ‘The Internet’

2. Digital Marketing Is Not About ‘Online Banners’, ‘SEO’, ‘Social Media’, ‘SMS Marketing,’ and so forth

3. Digital Is About Behaviors, Not Technology

4. Digital Marketing Is About Stories & Values, Not Channels Per Se…

5. Why Every Screen, Interface or Object Is An Opportunity For Dialogue, Interaction, Response & Collaboration.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course participants will:

  • Have a sound understanding of the general principles of digital marketing.
  • Be conversant with relevant technologies, devices and opportunities for digital communications campaigns.
  • Have increased confidence and inspiration for the development of strategic and creative digital communication campaigns
  • Understand how to integrate digital into the overall marketing mix.

The e-brochure is posted below:

Digital Marketing Workshop Brochure

For registration please contact Mr. Arsalaan Haleem at arsalaan@corporatetrainings.biz. The course fee is Rs. 8500 ($100) only.

For the first time, instead of focusing on just one set of digital tools, this workshop will show the participants how they can engage their customers using the multitude of tools that digital offers at the different stages of the customer’s purchase cycle, whilst at the same time keep tabs on the bottom line.The workshop will also focus on how to integrate the digital experience into traditional marketing campaigns.

Here’s a Peek into what’s going to be presented at the conference:

Digital Workshop Journey

For comments or questions, do let me know. Looking forward to meeting you there.

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 (2008) – On Digital Marketing


On Digital Marketing
Published In Dawn, Aurora, March 2008

by Umair Mohsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From The Archives (2006) – Beyond Traditional Advertising


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

By Umair Mohsin

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

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

Lost In Tradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The reason for that is there’s a finite supply of ad time on TV and a finite time that viewers watch the top programs they like”, said Fauzan Sohail, the owner of 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.

Enterprise 2.0 – Fostering Innovation


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

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

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

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

Protection of Intellectual Property

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

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

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

Spur Innovation

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

Amongst other things, social computing enables:

– Improvement of sharing, discovery and aggregation of information

– Finding experts fast

– Expanding network & enhance career development

– Aiding real-time collaboration

– Sharing innovative ideas

– Building communities

Attract, Develop & Retain Gen-Y As Employees

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

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

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

Implementation Of Enterprise 2.0

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

In the Future

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

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

One of the approaches towards the implementation of such a tool can be read at http://communities.intel.com/docs/DOC-3603. However, the more traditional enterprises can set on the path with an internal company wide blog. Social computing’s new collaborative technologies will provide effective channels for communication, collaboration, teamwork, networking, and innovation and in the post internet world, this is increasingly how companies will unleash innovation within their processes and secure the best and the brightest talent in the world.

Check out the presentation below for more information on Intel’s version of social computing:

more about “Enterprise 2.0 – Social Computing II“, posted with vodpod

KungFu Panda – Awesome Marketing Lesson


Po: Ooh, so um, I should… stop talking?
Shifu: If you can.

Brand management in the traditional marketing world was a top down, internally focused, political and money based approach. Now, due to the elimination of production & distribution costs, technology is allowing the growth of communities on a massive scale and this increased fragmentation of the consumer is governing that a new order of marketing take shape.

Marketers in Pakistan however are unwilling to risk the plunge of allowing consumers to control their communication messages. Despite the growing frequency of desperation of brands using the traditional approaches, to the extent of even breaking their role as good corporate citizens of the country (as this answer to the recent comment on Engro Pakistan using public property such as ‘Unity Round About” in Quetta ‘ (an act of Forced Marketing) which was posted on Marketing 360′, a Yahoo! group shows:

“…Your ethical concerns are true but in these times firms are desperate in breaking the clutter and will exploit any opportunity they get. Soon you may see walls being painted with advertisements by these big groups. In Karachi I have seen Pepsi painting on walls giving their owners a meager monthly rental…” – Munawar.)
marketers are still trying the push approach towards consumers, insisting on increasing the advertising budgets rather than innovating in new approaches. The way to increase Brand Scores on ‘Attribute A’ is still more ‘Share of Voice’.

Yet increasingly the consumer in Pakistan is becoming ‘Consistently Connected’ (35 Million + Mobile Users and 21 Million Internet Users (Source: International Social Media Research Wave 3)) and the increasingly fragmentation of the consumer due to the 83+ channels and 12+ radio stations has resulted in the fact that the one message fit all is going to die soon, if it’s not already dead.

Marketers take a note out of the Kungfu Panda Movie by Dream Works released in 2008. Oogway’s lesson to Shifu is very applicable to the marketing world of now.

Kungfu Panda

Shifu & Oogway

Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control.
Shifu: Illusion?
Oogway: Yes.
[points at peach tree]
Oogway: Look at this tree, Shifu: I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.
Shifu: But there are things we *can* control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!
Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!
Oogway: Maybe it can, if you are willing to guide, to nurture it, to believe in it.
Shifu: But how? How? I need your help, master.
Oogway: No, you just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu, promise me you will believe.

Yes! objectives vary, but increasingly the way to reach the Pakistani consumers (esp. for brand building) now is through non-traditional media. A combination of Activations & Digital can  [perhaps] be more expensive, but does offer real & measured results. Why should advertising money be wasted on e.g. a moneyed individual being communicated to about a third-tier product when other more focused alternatives are available. Alternatively, Facebook Pakistan has 500,000+ of the most moneyed class of the country, shouldn’t the local marketers try to connect to them about what they want and value especially since this class doesn’t indulge as much in traditional media as the other classes of this country.

This is increasingly becoming the new marketing reality and the way forward to leverage and tap into the zeitgeist will be to create communities around your brands. One way could be to appeal to the passionistas, the people who score high on NPS (Net Promoter Scores).

This is not a new philosophy. Just a less understood one. Seth Godin In His Book ‘Tribe Management’ has been emphasizing on the same philosophy for years now:

It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

But this is not the only lesson to be learnt. Don’t forget the most basic lesson of them all:
Po: [breathing heavily] I know you’re trying to be all mystical and Kung Fu-ey, but could you tell me where we’re going?

Kungfu Panda

Kungfu Panda

Remember, one often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

Go On! Prepare For Marketing Awesomeness!
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