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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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”.

Unleash The Power Of Digital Out Of Home In Pakistan

These are signs of changing times and they are everywhere. Banks, retail stores, exhibitions, malls, airports, restaurants — digital signage is being mounted at all these places. Enter the world where flat screens offer high-quality, value-added marketing content.

Digital signage is a broad term used to describe the integration of a variety of technologies, including software, that culminate in a single end result — a unique and powerful communications medium that provides unparalleled opportunities for marketers to capture audience’s attention, educate and inform, build brands, improve customer experiences and drive sales through the use of digitally powered signs (such as plasma display panels, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), kiosk stations (such as ATMs, computer monitors and normal televisions) to replace and enhance traditional media such as posters, outdoor billboards, etc. The concept has been around for some time, but now digital signage is fully coming into its own since the days of the dot matrix display boards, the first usage of this technology.


Digital signage is now a viable and affordable alternative to traditional printed signage because the prices of display hardware have tumbled. Thus this new medium of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) (also known as out-of-home advertising, in-store TV, captive audience TV, digital signage or dynamic digital display) looks set to offer advertisers one of the most targeted and powerful ways of reaching consumers. The type of content on this type of signage can vary. Pakistani marketers looking to improving the effectiveness of their marketing communication are fast replacing the static point-of-sale signage, especially in today’s multimedia world, where it doesn’t have the POP! it used to.

Aside from content such as TV ads, messaging on DOOH can also provide a website address, mobile number or even an IVR, which, when dialled, provides a pre-recorded message specific to the ad display location for exhibit, product or other information. DOOH can also be made interactive with sensors, touch-screens and other interactive devices which can be installed alongside these displays, allowing content to respond when consumers pass by. This enables the customer to fully engage in the communications experience, and this also provides valuable marketing data.

Dynamic dimensions

There are several dimensions of this technology, including comprehensive control over how, when and where your messages are delivered, based on the location or time of the day. This is called narrowcasting. Narrowcasting involves streaming specific data to specific audiences as opposed to traditional broadcasting, which targets a great swath of general viewers.

Digital advertising makes it possible to present messages on multiple DOOH displays through eye-catching dynamic content targeted by demographic, psychographic and geographic specifications, besides other customer-defined business rules such as the time of day, store zone, etc. Since the content can be changed or updated at any time from a remote computer containing the solution’s administration software, the displays are designed to show product information to consumers with the hope of encouraging sales that would not normally occur according to consumer’s traditional shopping patterns e.g., on a given day, different ads for a clothing store might be presented to reach the young people between 18-25 year olds through displays at bus shelters, coffee shops, on campus, in food courts, petrol stations, bank machines and in malls, depending on the time of the day they are likely to be there in large numbers.

This kind of specific targeting allows a marketer to communicate their message to the audience at critical junctures and cuts down the total spending on ads. The greatest strength, however, of digital signage lies in its immediacy. Digital signage enables “speed to messaging”, “faster time to market” and communications flexibility when content creation, composition, management, transport and presentation are all done digitally.

This allows the cost-effective re-purposing of ads across media platforms, since digital signage networks are largely automated and remotely controlled. This enables the launching of new communications campaigns with zero courier costs, no on-site personnel requirements and total security. Thus digital signs can literally be reprogrammed with the latest advertising campaign, price change or public message at the click of a mouse button. One mouse click and thousands of screens update automatically.

This also has the benefit of eliminating out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of messages for the consumer – no more posters or messages from last month’s campaign fluttering around. In the future, these signs will also be able to influence inventory and supply chain by promoting products that are in an over-supply and cutting off promotions of products that are out of stock at that location. Targeted, informative content that changes behaviour, such is the power that every marketer dreams of.

Also, since DOOH presents digital messages at the point-of-purchase, it brings “the power of place” (how our surroundings shape our thoughts, emotions, and actions) to life. There is currently no other medium which makes it possible to deliver compelling content at the right location at the right time for maximum impact, for example it is a known fact that over 75 per cent of buying decisions are made at the point of purchase (Source: POPAI). Setting up a digital signage at a shopping mall or retail outlet can influence purchasing right where it’s about to happen. This is what sets digital signage apart from traditional media. It allows you to run purpose-built, meaningful content that can be managed to meet the consumer experience.

DOOH also has been reported to increase customer dwell time. Dwell time is the period during which a dynamic process remains halted in order that another process may occur, e.g. a person stops to glance over at a range of biscuits in a super market. Retail studies have shown that the longer the dwell time, the higher the number of sales.
The use of DOOH has also been reported to enhance the customer experience through value-added ‘edutainment’. In waiting rooms, e.g., such as the doctor’s office, pharmacies, railway stations or banks, these displays reduce perceived wait time. People really enjoy watching the educational programming on these displays and believe that the time spent was less than it really was improving customer satisfaction.


Setting up a basic signage is as simple as plugging a DVD player and a DVD with your ad into a display console and putting it up in a shop. However, for a proper DOOH, the components needed for a digital signage system include: an authoring console equipped with content management software, allowing the playback of content in a variety of playback formats, a server to which finished content is uploaded and from where it is distributed to the different displays of the network, a distribution infrastructure consisting of a data network or fibre optic or CAT5 cable which broadcasts media from the server to the displays and digital signage displays which can be plasma displays, LCD monitors, CRT monitors or kiosk stations.

The distribution infrastructure is perhaps the most important part of digital signage, and choosing the correct distribution technology is a crucial element of any digital signage project. To date, the most common distribution infrastructure in Pakistan has been the data network platform, most commonly seen in the top retail stores of the country.

A data network platform uses a computer network infrastructure in order to transmit content in the form of compressed multimedia files (such as MPEG files) from the management station to the central server and from there to the computer connected to the display device. The central server handles distribution to multiple displays and the display-end computer decompresses the file for display on the display device. This solution requires a dedicated CPU in every single display device deployed.

While offering better approaches and new paradigms of message targeting, DOOH is typically sold on a rental basis. Thus the technology’s inherent capabilities for message targeting combined with attractive rates make DOOH attractive, providing high return on marketing investment. And the best part of it all is that marketers can maximize display value with measurable effectiveness, tallying sales data to the message that was being run on these screens.


The greatest interest in digital signage today is from the banking, telecom and retail sectors, although it does have other uses in healthcare, education and other displays of information, e.g. an average retail store has a footfall of over 500 people per day who can watch these ads and the preliminary results of studies by local major players show that a dynamic content’s impact is higher than that of static media on these locations. So it’s no surprise that the potential for this technology is huge.

Telecom franchises number well over 1600 alone, there are over 5000 high-end retail shops where this technology can be deployed and high-end banking branches number well over 4500.

As one of the suppliers and pioneers in this field, 3M Pakistan is currently assessing the potential of bringing this technology into Pakistan. They’ve already launched one of the components of DOOH amongst their range of products, Vikuiti, which is a range of projection display components. Vikuiti has been tested at over 50 locations in Pakistan so far and have been proven to be an excellent choice, surpassing the metrics of reach, frequency and recall over static media. Within one year of its introduction Vikuiti has already hit the targeted numbers for this market and is growing fast, slowly converting the POS market in Pakistan.

According to Dr Hugh Philips, a cognitive psychologist, human beings “select” or “de-select” what they notice based on the relevance of what is presented. That being the case, motion video and animation coming and going on a dynamic display has a high probability of being seen, and relevant or interesting messages can then fulfil the objectives. The numbers are already promising. Viewers are five to 10 times more likely to notice and recall dynamic media than static media (Source: POPAI).

It’s a high-definition world, and today’s time-starved consumers demand more from their experiences, thus using digital signage can make for happier and more energised customers. With its superior ability to target specific messages towards defined audiences and get noticed, digital signage offers unparalleled opportunities to anyone wanting to capture the ever fragmented audiences’ attention, educate and inform people, build brands and drive sales and profitability.

The advantages of digital signage

• Reaches defined audiences
• Targeted messaging
> Target your messages by screen, location, time or day
> Enables tactical marketing by audience segment
• Captures audience attention
> Increases message impact through eye-catching dynamic
> Enhances the customer’s experience through value-added
> Increases customer dwell time and reduces perceived wait time
• Speed and immediacy of message change
> Reduces time and cost to produce and deploy new messages
> Eliminates out-of-date messages to increase relevancy of
• Ensures local compliance with auditable playback
> Automated playback with no human interaction
> Compare proof-of-play reports to sales data
• Maximises display value with measurable effectiveness
> Creates content schedules containing multiple messages
per signage asset
> Easily tests different message executions and assesses the
impact of each

Published: Dawn Newspaper, Sci-Tech

For More Information on MI Digital’s Digital Signage Solutions, please visit

The Future of Digital Marketing: Pakistan 2015

It’s sad that at every turn we tend to focus on the negatives when this great country really offers endless opportunities amidst all this chaos – if one is focused to see the forest for the trees. Because of a lack of legacy infrastructure to burden us down, the marching advent of technology and telecom is shaking up the old and ensuring that Pakistan is coming of age in one of the fastest of the new growth industries such as Digital Media and Marketing which will only go up and up over the next decade.

Let me start by making a bold prediction. Expect 15% of all advertising in Pakistan to shift to digital, interactive, mobile, social and online video over the next five years. Why is it bold, because currently digital spending is estimated at US $5 Million and if the prediction were to come true, we’re looking at an amount hovering in the $40 -$50 million USD range. That’s a growth by a factor of 10 in just 5 years. It’s an impossible figure at first sight but like in the rest of the world, the increasing consumer connectivity (4 million+ broadband connections by 2013 – Source: PTA), Mobile and social technologies are rapidly evolving the very definition of marketing and commerce in our country and the on-coming world of 3G / 4G technologies, cloud computing, mobility and even SMS/WAP based services will quickly bring this prediction about. With this in mind, the following will be growth areas in our country over the next few years:

Prediction #1: The Ubiquitous Mobile Eco-system

If you think the Telecom sector is huge right now, wait for a few years. With close to 60 million phones and 90 million SIMs providing the foundation, already without a doubt the next big thing is going to be mobile. You maybe getting tired of hearing about how it’s going to happen, but it is coming and coming soon and it’s going to be not just about phones, it will be an entire ecosystem built around the mobile – any service, anytime, anywhere and on any screen.  Bring in location based services, m-commerce and Proximity forms of marketing enabled by a million strong SME sector and it’s a no brainer that mobile-assisted shopping will be integrated into the physical and m-commerce especially will become a necessary part of multi-channel retailing and an important component of Point of Purchase Promotions. With that we can portend the rise of mobile comparison shopping, mobile coupons, mobile affiliates and ever more SMS services. Add in social networks which are being promoted on even the Chinese mobiles, we can easily perceive that social media and social commerce on the mobile device will be a big part of our marketing efforts. For the marketers the challenge in this regard will be even more platform fragmentation.


Prediction #2: Digital Marketing Will Be About New Possibilities

Digital marketing will be about connecting information that’s otherwise not connected to create new possibilities and experiences. If my own personal experiences in game development are taken as an example, applying game mechanics to the customer journey, particularly product awareness/brand discovery – with levels, engaging fun challenges, and certain rewards can be very effective way to market your own brands even now and in the future will be certain to grow as ‘experiential marketing’ takes over from traditional activations. You’ve heard life is a game … this time we’ll be living it especially as augmented technologies come into play in this country – some we’re developing even now. For those who’d like to see what the Pakistani marketing world can be like in 2015 Google ‘Nike London Grid’

Prediction #3: TV Will Still Rule But The Focus To Something New Will Come

In a Feb 2010 published report by the European Interactive Advertising Association (IALS), the number of hours that the average person spends connected to the internet in Spain now exceeds that spent watching television. The study, conducted in 15 European countries, revealed that people in Spain spent an average of 13.3 hours per week connected to the internet compared to 13 hours in front of the television. There is quite a difference between age groups, with younger people spending most time online, while those over 55 years of age almost exclusively use only television. Whilst on the same note a study by Ipsos Reid last fall found that Canadians are spending more than 18 hours a week online, compared with 16.9 hours watching television. In the UK, According to a Sept 2009 news report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), online has overtaken television to become the biggest single medium growing to 1.75 billion pounds, with the medium accounting for 23.5 percent of all spend, ahead of television. If the European and Canadian trends are to be taken as a benchmark for our world in the future, than there will be a major shift in advertising from being predominantly TV focused to something new. The economic drivers are already compelling marketers to try their hands on digital.

Prediction #4: Digital will continue to remain a Paradox

Digital marketing will always remain a challenging paradox for the traditional marketers because the way currently marketers think about digital is flawed, fully racked as they are with a mindset tuned towards providing immediate gratification, a one-off mentality and a propensity to constantly chase the next shiny object. Understanding conversations, the loss of control, co-creation, engagement are forms which will take time before they’ll be manifested in the marketing communications here.

It can be said that digital technologies have changed everything, not because of the speed of access but because there is a direct connection to what we want which is always on. This has changed the experience from one which used to be disruptive (turning on the PC to check email e.g.) to embedded (checking email on the phone whilst on the go) and being integrated into everything we do. This is the same technology that will be powering our media and marketing over the next decade and giving us continuous hope and reason for bringing our country into the developed world at an extremely fast pace.

A truly connected world is going to be a radically different world from the world we currently inhabit and understand. It will be a world where mobile devices and computers will be as prevalent as the air we breathe. It will be where social media will compete against mass media and real time ‘Now’ will complement the traditional forms of ‘Search’. It will be a world where Apps will compete against ads and context will be king. The cloud, semantics, Android, mashups, mobile, social graphs & social-spheres, user targeting,  HTML5, location-based, gaming, ad exchanges, path to conversion, 3D, channel interaction, HD video, augmented reality, data visualisation, apps and even more, and all present even on the lowly Chinese devices will stand to drive the consumer on a different path to purchase than the current models. Already the trends show that consumer preferences are already shifting towards the digital landscape. We’re watching Indian soaps on YouTube, banking through our mobile phones, finding life partners and ordering grocery online. What happens when these technologies become embedded in our lives? We’re already witness to the decline of the ‘Broadcast Business models’ from newspapers & magazines to TV & music, none command the stature of previous decades and as technology progresses they’ll lose their importance even more. With this will come the end of noise & interruption form of advertising and the rise of context, relevance and real experiences for brand building.  Consumer behavior will continue to change as technology evolves and permeates even more into our lives, giving greater influence and control to the consumers over the relationships and the experiences that they choose to have with the brands.



The Blogging Scene In Pakistan

Ten years ago a set of 95 theses were organized and put forward as a manifesto, for all businesses operating within what was then suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. Titled ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, it put forward an idea that the Internet was unlike the ordinary media used in mass marketing as it enables people to have “human to human” conversations, which have the potential to transform traditional business practices radically. The authors asserted that a shift would occur through substantial and pervasive changes in current company-to-consumer interaction. Communication would shift from mission statements and marketing media aimed at consumer segments to open dialogues or conversations between businesses and consumers, whilst online marketing would be more about holding conversations with people rather than broadcasting half-truths about products and services. Turns out that tens years on that now everything is a conversation.

The fastest growing alternative media to the traditional channels (3.7 million results on Google Pages from Pakistan and 367,000 blogs found), blogs in Pakistan are now being credited from everything from bringing a giant corporate to its knees over its negligence during a reality show, greater consumer awareness, putting pressure on governments and politicians for greater transparency, showcasing the new and the trendy to the point where all gadgets now MUST have a blogger’s meetup at launch followed up by reviews, media practices, latest fashions, marketing and even general venting of frustration at All Things Pakistan.

The ability for anyone to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see for free has been equated with bringing in the same revolution as the printing press did 400 years ago. So much so that every traditional broadcast media & newspaper worth their salt has started their own blogging channels to avoid missing out on this cluetrain. Just on alone, one is treated to a myriad of subjects ranging from Politics, Satire, Sports, Technology, Business, Culture, Food to much much more. Politics of course is the favorite subject and one is treated to the widest range of topics from ‘Couldn’t She Find A Nice Indian Boy’ to deep philosophically inclined discussions on women’s rights and the burka. One is also treated to all the content that one would never be privy too in our traditional channels especially regarding our political leaders.  Sports too especially Cricket are the passion of the nation and nowhere is it more apparent than on the net with the keywords ‘Cricket Blog Pakistan’ resulting in 446,000 results from Pakistan alone.

The biggest benefactor of the blogging scene however has been the Citizen Journalism scene, everything from taking on the big bad corporate and their policies to exploit low waged workers and risk their lives in factories without proper precautions or rights, or to prison seriously injured workers in a hospital room to block them from the media and labor movements, action against exploitative advertising of baby milk or more minor issues like delays in payments has been documented and archived for generations to come. The citizen of Pakistan’s voice is finally being heard and it is loud and demanding remedial for the generations of anger, exploitation and squelching of our voices.

One of the management gurus Tom Peters said, “One of my grand theories is that, fundamentally, there’s only one source of innovation, and that’s pissed off people. I think anger is the essential motivator.” If this is the case than this is our time to change the Pakistani world the way we want it to be with the power of the word. It has been known for eons to be mightier than the sword and with digital distribution it’s a tsunami now which will shatter all that that comes in its path.


From The Archives (2007) – Mobile Marketing

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

by Umair Mohsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Case Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future Role of MNOs

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

[1] Source: Economic Survey, 2007

[2] Source: PTA, April 2007 Figures.

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

From The Archives (2008) – 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!


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.