Digital Audience Measurement In Pakistan

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

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

—Frank N. Stanton (1935)”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Classified Market In Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Client Brief – Perfecting The Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Advertisement

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

Published: Dawn, Aurora Magazine, April, 2012.

Marketing Strategies For Digital Media

Every year for the last five years digital pundits had been predicting dramatic change in our media consumption. They had foretold the convergence of digital and broadcast media, the erosion of mass audiences and the restructuring of the media and advertising industries. So far every year, leading industry practices had remained static, even stagnant, and the overall pattern of marketing spend had barely changed in all these years.

2011 however marks the event when the long-predicted future has finally arrived heralded by the ever increasing number of advertisers looking for digital solutions, the marketing spend on digital in Pakistan crossing the $5 million mark, the setting up of ‘digital agencies’ by the dozen, established traditional agencies setting up ‘interactive divisions’, whilst prior tech companies proclaim themselves to be ‘agencies’ and both mainstream media companies and major marketers accepting the facts that the methods by which consumers absorb information and entertainment and the ways they perceive, retain, and engage with brands and brand messages have changed irrevocably, as evidenced in interviews in Nov-Dec, 2010 issue of Aurora, the leading trade magazine for the advertising industry. Now enough consumers are spending enough time accessing information and entertainment via digital media platforms to have shifted the overall pattern of media use. This shift will increase substantially in 2013 as greater broadband penetration (4.13 Million connections estimated by PTA) and roughly 20% of all Pakistani households using broadband will make the internet more viable as an alternative entertainment platform as well.

Yet digital platforms continue to remain a mystery for most Pakistani marketers. This is because they transform the traditional marketing and media ecosystem into an intimate, immersive, accountable environment, in which consumers can interact with brands at every level of the purchase funnel. This befuddles the mind as it is very different from the linear content and communication form developed for traditional marketing channels where the consumer is assumed to be the sheep or as politically correctly called ‘captive viewer’. The old media world was where information was controlled and limited by editorial through a centralized single channel distribution system. In today’s multi-channel world of ‘leaks’, however it’s not really surprising that these old forms of advertising should fail to translate well as consumers increasingly behave more like discerning critics who use the Internet to pick through and make their own sense of the swathes of information available. To survive in this new reality, thus requires a massive change in mindset.

The first thing to understand about digital marketing is that (surprisingly) it is not primarily about technology. It’s about providing relevant & interesting value in the form of ideas and experiences that get people engaged, makes them want them to talk, provide real entertainment value, or render a useful service to the consumer rather than just another [empty] marketing slogan, dance or jingle. These marketing ideas and experiences thus need to be crafted with the same discipline as the underlying product so that the two become virtually indistinguishable.

Secondly, to effectively engage consumers in the new digital space, marketers need to define more clearly the values that underlie each of their brands and to instill those values throughout the marketing program through integrated marketing. Marketing executives can start by asking the overarching question: What new capabilities and services will enhance the value of my product to my customers? The answer to which will thus develop an understanding of capabilities they should keep in-house (e.g., those that can achieve scale across the portfolio and that create essential advantage) and which should be outsourced to external marketing, media, and technology partners.

Thirdly, it helps to remember digital marketing’s greatest selling point. Digital benefits marketers by furnishing a real time, direct, uninterrupted view of the consumer and a measurable, efficient read on the return marketers are generating on each marketing spend. This accountability and intimacy are particularly important now, when a cluttered and highly fragmented media environment has made “buying awareness” prohibitively expensive.  However it’s one thing to collect digital information; it’s quite another to draw intelligence from it. Leading marketers would be wise to build partnerships with their digital agencies to track ad placement, versioning and effectiveness as well as delve in social insights generated through ‘listening’ to the consumer.

To thus keep up with the times, the following are some recommendations for new digital marketers and traditional agencies:

  • Shift just 3% of your media spending and management attention to digital media and learn how to use those media to more effectively influence consumer purchase behavior. Especially learn to develop in formats which promote interaction with audiences.
  • Digital is not a silo. Combine “above-the-line” advertising and “below-the-line” marketing (promotions, sponsorships, events, public relations) in new two-way interactive campaigns. Touch-based technologies can really amp up any event.
  • Research through approaches and metrics that measure outcomes.

Traditional advertising has lost its storytelling charm and evolved instead into predictable, often bland, and largely invisible dance based executions that are not memorable or inspiring. Industry-wide, companies are making digital media a bigger priority in their brand strategies. It’s not that digital alone will dominate over other mediums. Mass advertising will continue to perform a role in driving awareness, but increasingly as digital makes head-end marketers will prioritize towards channels that deliver accountability, relevance, and interactivity to fully capitalize on the online opportunity. The digital markets thus are only set to boom.

To Learn More About Our Digital Marketing Solutions, Visit My Digital Agency or for a full list of services we offer in Digital Media:

Is Nokia The Next Motorola?

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

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

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

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

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

nokia e72


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings up the sad saga of Saturn.

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing 2.0 – Leveraging Facebook For Brand Building

Facing Up To Facebok

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


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

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

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

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

Facebook Apps
Facebook Apps

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

EyeBlaster Data of Various Campaigns runs on FB & Zedge


Standard Banner – Average CTR Range

0.10 % to 0.12%

0.4% to 0.75%

Rich Banner – Average CTR Range

0.53% to 2.67%

0.95% to 4%

Average Dwell Time

0.41 Seconds

0.44 seconds

User Engagement (Brand interaction Rate)

10% – 40%

30% – 75%

Source: Eyeblaster, Pakistan

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

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

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

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

Facebook Pages
Facebook Pages

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

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

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

FB Users
FB Users

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

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

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

The Future Of The Media Agency

PHD on the Future of the Media Agency

June 25, 2009

-By Mark Holden


Making predictions for what’s going to happen in media next week is hard, let alone undergo the ambitious challenge of trying to second guess the next five years. However, we believe our vision, which is based on rigorous research, conversations with key influencers and the collation of pertinent data and statistics, is not far-fetched. In fact, most of the predictions we make are grounded in today’s reality; we are building the foundations now for a future-proof media agency in five years. So, take a trip into the future with us, use your imagination and tell us what you think.

Fast-Forward to the Future

It’s 2014. You’re walking into a global media agency that you last visited five years ago. The first thing you notice is that it does not appear to be organized too differently from how you remember it, apart from the fact that much of the buying process now looks like it is automated. There are client teams scattered around the agency, composed of a range of different specialists: a couple of TV buyers, a radio buyer, an online buyer and duo of planners. So far, so similar. However, on closer inspection you realize that there are some key differences. For a start, the TV buyers no longer call themselves TV buyers but instead are AV (audiovisual) buyers and their remit covers TV and online. They also seem to be talking about targeting and consumer behavior data much more than they did in the past.

You overhear a client-planning meeting and you realize that most planners aren’t even called planners anymore. They’re MIMs — marketing investment managers. It looks like their role is now to advise the client on all aspects of his marketing strategy, from whether the brand should change its packaging to whether he should launch a new variant or product. Their role has clearly evolved significantly over the last five years. They seem to be much more multi-skilled and referring to a host of different research experts in the brainstorming meetings from consumer psychologists to neuroexperts to social anthropologists to new product development managers.

Some client teams appear to be populated by product placement specialists, who are on the lookout for opportunities in events and linear broadcast content, as well as ad-funded games and ad-funded widgets. There are a couple of software developers too, who are creating ad-funded applications and experiences on social networking sites. Other teams also have creatives from a sister creative agency, who now work beside the planners and buyers. All these specialists work in the agency’s content creation department. It’s much, much bigger than it was in 2009 and has become a mini quasi-creative agency in itself.

Other client teams have mobile planners and buyers and there’s a new breed of digital marketer. They are calling themselves DRM’s, or digital relationship managers, and are in the business of building and maintaining huge databases of consumers. Apparently they’re a great source of ideas for planners, and clients even ask to audit these databases as part of the pitch process.

Long gone are the days when all the media agency did was plan and buy a campaign.

How Did We Get Here?

First, we thought hard about how the consumer will be using technology in five years. After all, technology is the biggest driver of change in the evolution of the media landscape. If we can accurately predict what technology will catch on with consumers, then this will lead us to what the media agency will look like in the future.

At Home

Expect a technological infrastructure at home that will enable consumers to instantaneously download several types of content simultaneously in high definition with no lag time. We predict that in five years mainstream audiences in most developed markets will be able to download 100+ Mbps per second. To put this in context, in 2008 a typical home-achieved download speed was between 0.8 – 3.5 Mbps. Consequently, consumers will be streaming instead of broadcasting content. And they will be able to access multiple channels, games and applications on one screen simultaneously. Similarly, there will be huge advancements in storage technology, which will enable consumers to store much more content for access at their convenience. Connectivity speeds and bandwidth capacity will also have advanced beyond recognition. Already we are seeing improvements in this arena with the investment of companies such as Verizon and AT&T in fiber optic networks.

The home will be more connected to the consumer than ever before. Through handheld devices like the mobile phone, consumers will be able to link to their hard drive at home, which in turn will link to home appliances and their car.

On the Move

We can safely say by 2014 that there will be seismic advances in battery power and storage capacity of handheld devices. Already we are seeing vast improvements in these areas. Wireless Internet access will also have improved beyond recognition. In five years it will no longer be about 3G but 4G, otherwise known as WiMax or WiFi on steroids. Not only will this be eight times faster than 3G, but it will also be considerably cheaper.

We’ll keep seeing our handheld devices getting smaller, thinner and lighter. There will be a sharp increase in the amount of HIP’s, or highly intuitive products, that will incorporate the latest advancements in voice recognition, electronic ink and scroll-out displays, touch screens, image recognition (augmented reality) and correlation-based software.

For example, in five years mobile phones will have satellite navigation and correlation-based information so users know where they are and what’s around them, enabling them to search for anything relevant. And search will be much more dynamic too; results will be tailored to our exact needs with, for instance, information presented as videos, tables, charts, animations and databases. Early examples of this can be seen with MSN’s Bing and Google Squared.

Which Technology Will ‘Liberate’ the Consumer?

Predicting what technology will really captivate consumers and change the media market is not always easy. While technologists love complex technology with all the bells and whistles, consumers just want apps that make their lives easier. Whether consumers know it or not, they are on a quest to be everywhere, with everyone, with everything, at every moment. Any piece of technology that has ever been successful has, in some way, moved the consumer one step further on this journey.

The surprise success of SMS texting technology is a prime example of this. Technologists rubbished the primitive, limited, text-only technology, but consumers couldn’t move their fingers quick enough around their mobile keypads, rapidly inventing a text short-hand language.

Why did this basic black-and-white messaging system of only 160 characters resonate so strongly with the consumer? Because it offered them a quantum leap in communication: near-instantaneous, non-verbal communication on the move. You could say that SMS text messaging liberated consumers. We believe the level of success of a technology is directly related to the level to which it liberates the consumer.

But which technologies will prove most liberating in five years’ time? If we can answer this question, we can determine what the media landscape will look like in 2014. In our opinion, the most liberating technologies will be those that blur traditional boundaries, such as the mobile phone and the PC or the TV and the Internet. The most successful media and media technology will be those that reflect the fluidity of human nature, which is not fixed into separate compartments.

‘Blurs’ and What They Mean for the Media Agency of the Future

We’ve identified five “blurs” that will shape the media landscape in 2014. Beside each one we’ve explained how the merging of traditional boundaries will affect how a media agency operates.

Blur 1: TV and Online

By 2014, a high percentage of homes in developed markets will be watching content streamed over the Internet, as opposed to being broadcast over the airwaves. We’ll also reach the tipping point when all major TV channels, and production houses, stream and make all their content available online. It’s happening already in major markets, particularly America. Just look at (the Internet content system created by NBC and Fox and other networks and studios). And even the stalwarts are playing – ABC has embraced the merging of TV and online and even launched its own branded news channel on YouTube in May (

With sites like YouTube uploading thousands of new videos every day, consumers are getting used to consuming broadcast content online and soon – when the TV and the computer finally merge in the living room – they will be able to sit at home using TV-based search to find the content they want, when they want. This will be driven forward by the convergence that we are about to witness within the TV market: the replacement for the plasma screen you bought last year will incorporate a hard-drive (an Intel chip) and an Ethernet cable. And we will be able to stream content directly into the TV or over the top of broadcast content in the form of applications that enhance the viewing experience. Imagine sports stats, wiki-information about the program, actors, place or even on-the-fly blogging about the content. It is coming.

What Does This Mean for the Media Agency?

Naturally, this will lead to a merging of TV and online buying and measurement. This is already happening. Nielsen launched its TV/Internet Convergence Panel in late 2008.

Media agencies will have to merge TV buying with online buying to create an AV (audiovisual) buying department – or simply expand their online departments and shrink, and ultimately close, their TV buying departments. Traditional TV buyers will see their roles change and remits widen. This movement to streaming content will give marketers the opportunity to achieve an unprecedented level of interaction with consumers. This will mean that TV buyers will play a much more important role in targeting, ad serving and ongoing campaign management. Expect to see behavioral targeting TV planning. This will allow for an even more advanced form of targeting and interaction than we are currently seeing with cable-based addressable TV.

Blur 2: Mobile Phones and the PC

Think for a minute about the iPhone. It seems to have slipped from a future decade into ours, seamlessly bringing a host of applications we are more used to seeing on our PC to our handheld device. But by 2014, the mainstream audience will be using mobile devices with intuitive, touch-based controls, paper-effect or e-ink screens, image recognition (augmented reality), high-definition resolution and a constant connection to the Internet. We’re already seeing other players like Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung launching touch phones, and the technology will only continue to improve – rapidly.

By 2014, the development of mobile phone applications will also be revolutionary. Software for mobile phones like the now-fledgling Google Android and other new entrants will, in five years’ time, be commonplace. Android is open source, which means that anyone can create mobile applications for it. For example, developers can come up with new ideas based on the latest innovations to make functions like texting, using the camera or making calls a richer experience for users. Google Wave — a new platform that converges e-mail, instant messenger, wiki-software and microblogging – will dramatically reorganize how we communicate. This will enable other companies to build their own software from this platform. By 2014, it is highly likely that brands will create their own versions that will be free – de-positioning Microsoft Outlook. Consumers will be able to create a phone tailored exactly to their interests and needs. They will also be able to make use of location-based services such as Google’s Latitude, which will be much more sophisticated in five years. As a result, users will be able to, for instance, be alerted when their friends are in the vicinity — or their favorite brands. All these new applications will provide a wealth of new advertising and ad-funded opportunities.

What Does This Mean for the Media Agency?

Mobile marketing will go from being a niche media channel to being a high-reach and high-segmentation channel. We know that mobile phone users typically choose ad-funded content in favor of content they have to pay for, which bodes well for advertiser opportunities. Although there will naturally be some crossover between mobile and fixed-line Internet, the different opportunities on mobile, such as geo-targeting, will lead to mobile specialists working within media agencies. At the very least, we will see one or two digital planners/buyers who specialize in mobile planning and buying. At the very most, we will see the launch of independent specialist media agencies that do nothing else except plan and buy mobile marketing campaigns.

Blur 3: Entertainment and Advertising

With the increase in the number of TV stations around the world, we have witnessed a huge surge in the amount of advertising inventory available. This has placed, and will continue to place, growing pressure on the creative industries for quality content. But, with the explosion in the number of channels and the resulting drop in audience figures, many production teams have seen their budgets slashed as TV stations grapple with falling advertising revenues. This is where advertisers have a perfect opportunity to step in and lend a helping hand, both by creating more quality content, through branded content, and driving up program makers’ revenues, through product placement. In many markets, regulators are continuing to relax the current rules on product placement, which will only serve to increase this channel’s importance.

Online and on interactive TV platforms we have also seen a growth in marketing campaigns which bring brands to life through applications such as games. The early forays into this area have seen an increased level of engagement, resulting in dramatic increases in brand preference scores, albeit for smaller audiences. Internet gaming enables games to reach much larger audiences, but to date the cost has been prohibitive. However, this is set to change with some of the major games producers starting to embrace the ad-funded model. For example, in January 2008 Electronic Arts was able to launch its first free online video game, Battle Heroes, due to ad-funding. The major tipping point for advertising within games is predicted to arrive between late 2009 and early 2010, when a new streaming high-definition gaming site launches called OnLive. OnLive is set to dramatically reorganize the gaming sector by allowing users to play the highest quality games without buying. And because it is live, advertisers will be able to place ads into games by region with as much ease as placing an online banner campaign. We are also expecting to see game designers no longer hard-coding in cars and other products and instead having them as caching opportunities. Thus, Mercedes can insert different models by region, even after the game has been launched. So, by 2014 ad-funded gaming will be commonplace.

Another major growth area is ad-funded apps — an app being tech-speak for an online application that can be downloaded onto a social networking site. Ad-funded apps have already been created on social networking sites like Facebook and mobile platforms such as the iPhone. We believe it will not be long before we see widgets become brands in their own right. There are signs of this happening now. One example is RadicalBuy, a classified sales site on Facebook where users can buy and sell items from/to their friends, as well as selling their friends’ items for commission.

What Does This Mean for the Media Agency?

Creating content will become a much bigger and more important part of a media agency’s remit. At present, all of the major networks have content creation departments but, by 2014, these will be sizeable revenue generators. In fact, these departments will grow to become mini quasi-creative agencies, taking on more creative tasks and working alongside or even in competition with creative agencies. Media agencies will offer their clients a channel-led, full-service approach.

They will be staffed by a vast array of specialists, from product placement experts to software developers. The latter will be tasked with creating innovative digital assets and have close relationships with third-party software houses, working with them to create ad-funded applications. Software was heralded as “the new media” at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. By 2014 this will no longer be a “new” concept, but rather an accepted part of the media mix. Pioneering media agencies will also be seeking to share in the value created from these new branded products.

Blur 4: Consumer and Publisher

It is now hackneyed to say that the consumer is the new journalist. There are now approximately 20 million independent Weblogs, and most Google searches list user-generated content (UGC) on the first page. Bloggers are increasingly becoming media owners in their own right with a growing number influencing the influencers: a recent survey of 5,000 journalists found that 75 percent used blogs for research and many newspapers actually referencing blogs in copy. This has huge implications for brands, which can be damaged or boosted by the opinions of the satisfied or disgruntled.

Over the next five years blogs will become increasingly sophisticated with higher quality content, links to other sites, RSS feeds, online applications, video and images. Some blogs are already doing this, such as, which combines an RSS feed of forthcoming gigs overlaid onto Google Maps and then integrated with free music downloads from other sites. And sites such as Stumble and Digg index the high-ranking blogs. The influence of these blogging opinion formers will continue and those most active in the blogging sphere – teenagers – will also be a key consumer group in terms of spending in five years’ time. This represents an opportunity and a threat for advertisers.

By 2014, bloggers will also increasingly be looking to profit from their opinions. It is easy to imagine a situation whereby pioneering bloggers create their content, embed it with Google AdWords and post it as an RSS feed, receiving advertising revenue from the resulting clicks on ads. This will lead to the advent of “super influencers” – high-quality bloggers whose content is liberated and propagated by many. Understanding this ecosystem is going to become more and more important, particularly for high-value product categories where consumers undergo significant research before making a decision about, for example, cars and holidays.

What Does This Mean for the Media Agency?

Understanding how to influence the influencers will be crucial. As the IPA Future Foundation Report predicted in its study on agency requirements in 2016, communications agencies will have to become adept at online reputation management. For example, if a hotel client receives negative reviews on a hotel recommendation site, such as, it will be the agency’s role to first alert the brand to this criticism and then advise on appropriate action to regain credibility. This could, for instance, be a posting from the CEO apologizing for any mistakes made and pledging to correct them as soon as possible. This has predominantly been the domain of the PR agencies, but there is no reason why media agencies cannot deliver this skill set.

Blur 5: Online and Real-Life Experience

Over the next five years we will see the “Y Generation” (the 16-30-year-olds of 2014) increasingly blur their online identities with their offline social lives. This age group is completely at ease with creating identities online, whether it is via an avatar, blog or social networking site. For younger kids, it is all they have known, with sites such as Webkinz and Disney’s Club Penguin currently proving popular. These social networking sites will continue to link to mobile phones in the future, tapping into the benefits of location-based data and opening up a whole new world where users can see where contacts are on a map of their area while interfacing with them through an avatar.

What Does This Mean for the Media Agency?

The implications will be similar to those outlined in Blur 3 and again expand the creative remit of media agencies. Agencies will employ software developers that understand these communities and can create engaging branded experiences for them. There are a few new consultancies starting to offer these services, but this will become mainstream by 2014.

Can we make any other predictions about what the media agency of 2014 will be like? Yes, we certainly can.

Prediction 1: By 2014, clients can expect the same level of control, accountability and transparency that they currently enjoy for direct media, for all media.

We can confidently say that clients will continue to challenge agencies to demonstrate the ROI of all communications. By 2014, clients can expect to see improved software systems that provide a similar level of control, accountability and transparency as they currently enjoy for direct media. This process will be accelerated by new players that offer clients total accountability of their marketing spend, such as Google TV, which not only serves relevant ads to viewers but can track every penny of an ad campaign. Over the next five years, agencies will follow Google’s lead and will have successfully developed models that allow clients to see the payback of all media. Debate is currently raging about how to do this effectively, but everyone agrees that well-maintained customer data is vital to any solution.

Prediction 2: The media agency will take the lead in driving forward this new age of accountability and transparency.

Media agencies are in a prime position to take the lead because they have vast databases storing historical learnings from thousands of previous campaigns spanning a vast range of media channels, from which predictive models can be created. Expect to see powerful channel planning systems in place in five years’ time. But why, you might ask, are media agencies in a better position than their creative, digital or direct counterparts to spearhead this specialism? Because media agencies tend to have longer and more senior relationships with clients and, so, a bigger bank of primary data from which they can build these databases and build connections. Also, more than any other type of agency, media agencies have had to transform and modernize for the changing media environment: they couldn’t differentiate themselves by creative work so they were forced to up their game in other areas — data being a key area. Additionally, they are the only type of agency that can truly claim to be channel-neutral in their approach.

Prediction 3: Econometric modelling will be cheaper and more widely available to clients.

Savvy media agencies continue to build the infrastructure to capture data because they know that this gives them the power to understand what drives consumers. Increasingly, agencies will combine all of their network learnings into dynamic software systems in order to create predictive models that can be updated with real-time information. Through economies of scale, this will lead to agencies reducing the price for econometric modelling (currently expensive) and running more tactical and cheaper models that can be made available to more clients.

Prediction 4: Agencies will automate wherever possible.

More and more of what media agencies do will become streamlined, optimized and automated by better software. Media agencies will do what Google already does and create automated media planning and buying software. Clients will have the option of operating this software themselves. In fact, PHD has already launched a first stage version of this software called “Director,” which allows the client to “direct” direct response campaigns. However, we predict that most clients will have no interest in operating this software and continue to handover the task of planning and buying campaigns to their agencies. Automation will also have an effect on digital, where the pressure to keep down costs will be relieved through more automated systems for campaign management.

What automation will mean for planning/strategy

The role of planning/strategy in five years’ time deserves special attention because we believe this function will undergo the biggest transformation. With all of this automation, strategists and planners will be freed up to deliver a much more sophisticated and evolved form of planning. This is just as well because, in five years’ time, planners will be faced with an even greater number of potential channels and ways of influencing a target audience.

In 2014, planners/strategists will be seen as “marketing investment managers” (MIMs). They will be valuable resources that clients can tap for ideas on all aspects of their business. Clients will ask planners/strategists questions such as: Should we spend more or less on advertising? Should we change our packaging? Should we create a new variant? Should we enter a partnership? Should we launch a new product?

It’s true that media agencies before now have not invested enough in strategy. This is why small strategy shops sprung up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, investing in strategy-supporting resources is now a priority for global networks. In five years’ time, we believe there will be a number of new resources to support planners/strategists so they can fulfill this wider role, such as:

* Psychological-based research: to better understand how communications affect cognition. PHD is already a big investor in fMRI scanning, which we have invested in since 2005 with the launch of our global planning product, Neuroplanning. Other players have made similar investments. By 2014, leading communications agencies will have neuroexperts and consumer psychologists working in-house.

* Marketing investment planning software: This tool will be created by combining analysis of historical client activity with secondary source research such as TGI and MRI, providing a powerful new channel-planning tool. Omnicom Media Group’s BrandScience has already started doing this.

* Scenario planning tools based on computational marketing (also known as game theory): This takes into account how a host of factors affect a market (such as distribution, climate and word of mouth) and derive planning insights that are not evident from traditional planning techniques. Weather forecasters, for example, are currently using similar approaches. This will enable clients to scenario plan different strategies and see the effects on sales. This will give clients that invest in them an unrivalled competitive advantage. PHD is already working with Fleetwell Analytics to develop this area.

* NPD resources: Agencies such as Bartle Bogle Hegarty have already launched NPD departments, but these will be much more common by 2014. They will be hubs where new marketing ideas can be explored.

* Digital relationship managers (DRMs): These managers will be found in the digital department and will prove an invaluable resource to planners. They will build and maintain databases of consumers who can be tapped into for new ideas and who can be used to gauge the influence of a brand. These consumers will contribute ideas and feedback in return for exclusive information and free products and will be segmented according to their interests. DRMs will provide such a competitive advantage that clients will ask to audit agencies’ databases as part of the pitch process.


That is our vision of the media agency in 2014. We believe technology will play the central role in shaping the media landscape in five years’ time, particularly technology that blurs the lines between traditional boundaries. And we will continue to monitor technology and seek to understand the next-step effects for media. Above all, the consumer and how he or she chooses to use technology will drive us.

Nevertheless, whatever happens, we believe that the media agency must be at the center of any change, taking the lead in driving forward this new age of accountability, creativity and strategy.

At PHD we urge you to stay ahead of the curve — the view’s a little different there.

Mark Holden is one of PHD Worldwide’s thought leaders and managing partner of PHD Australia, an Omnicom Group company.

Global Entertainment and Media Practice

Marcel Fenez, global leader of the entertainment & media practice, talks about why there’s nowhere to hide from the migration to digital, and how the economic crisis is accelerating this process.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

To add to this, a new study from market research firm TNS and digital marketing firm Eyeblaster concludes that the digital era is blurring the line between channels designed for branding and those that trigger consumer action. The study, based on a worldwide survey of 400 marketing executives involved in branding, advertising and media buying and selling, was conducted in March.

“The common misconception among marketers is that brands are built offline and response is driven online,” the study contends. However, data from the survey suggests that “all media channels share a dual role: brand and response.”

With digital creeping across the media landscape the line between online and offline is becoming very blurred. It’s no longer either/or with respect to branding versus response. All channels will do both.

The PWC Outlook supports this trend and findings.

Here’s to a great digital future. 🙂

Hp Strategy Presentation

See Chin Tek talks about the transformation happening at HP at the conference “Touch The Future Now”, held at Ritz Carlton, Beijing, China. I took pictures of the presentation and have uploaded it with his speech as a slidecast.

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more about “Hp Strategy Presentation“, Audio Recorded via Nokia N82

Hp ‘Touch The Future, Now’ Design Presentation

HP’s Design Presentation

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more about “Hp Design Keynote Presentation“, posted with vodpod

HP ‘Touch The Future, Now’ was held in May, 2009 in Beijing, China, where they launched several products, including the HP Mini 110 netbook, the HP Pavillion MS200 all-in-one Desktop PC, an upgraded HP DV2 notebooks, and some new HP ProBooks. The conference served as a wonderful opportunity to better understand as to what makes HP tick, and what their philosophy is when it comes to deciding what kind of product to design and create.

This was delivered by Stacy Wolff, Director Notebook Design & Randall Martin, Director Desktop Design.