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”.

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The Rise Of Digital Marketing In Pakistan


Posted On Express Tribune: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/159/hello-digital-world/

As we celebrate almost two decades of the internet’s presence in Pakistan, intuitively it makes sense to believe that as the consumer in Pakistan gets ‘Digital’ and the technologies mature, there would have been innovations & change of behaviors in the marketing practices of companies. Yet astonishingly despite the fact that the computing grid is now increasingly available all around us via GPRS / EDGE Services, Wireless Broadband, DSL, etc, there is still a parallel and increasingly irrelevant universe which is inhabited by marketers and their agencies still clinging on to practices & notions of a pre-digital world where even in the best of times marketers used to admit that only 50 percent of their advertising worked and even then they weren’t sure which 50% it was.

As Pakistan comes close to approaching almost 20 million of its residents having access to and using the internet, instead of the gap between the consumer and the marketer shrinking, it only seems to be getting wider by the day. Marketers seem impervious to the fact that with over 80 broadcast channels catering to the masses, over 12 channels on the radio, over 4000 publications, such media onslaught is causing unprecedented fragmentation in media habits of a precedent which have never been seen before and still insist on doing things the traditional way. Add new channels such as internet, gaming, mobile, DirectToHome and activations and we can see why the number of touch-points to reach the average consumer have exploded making the job of the average marketer is now so much harder than the time not so long ago when you could have reached the entire country by advertising on the 9.00 pm news.

Traditional advertising models developed because the economics of the industrial era demanded it. 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. Customer was not as much aware since means of peer to peer advocacy were expensive thus believed whatever the advertiser wanted them to believe. With the advent of the information age however and cheap digital interaction, these models are falling apart. What’s replacing it is digital media models where consumers are now in control. They can and do debate and discuss expected costs associated with and the benefits of the brand in incredibly rich details. The more cheaper this interaction gets, the more connected consumers 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 disappears in these circumstances and marketers are left scrambling.

Increasingly marketers will start realizing 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. The traditional marketing model has been broken and 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.

Of course the next question arises, what is Digital Marketing? Is it this thing called SEO? Is digital marketing having a website? What about this Facebook phenomenon is that digital marketing too?

I like the following definition and I use it in all of my seminars and workshops.

Digital marketing Is:

Applying interactive technologies to Contribute to marketing activities Through Developing a planned approach to improve customer knowledge to Deliver communication & services that matches Individual’s needs.

This means that whilst Digital marketing depends on tools such as websites, banners, SEO, Facebook, Mobile, Email, Digital Signage etc, these are not digital marketing itself. Digital marketing is about using these tools to reach customers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost effective manner through Engaging the customer with your brand. How to do so will be covered in the future topics in this blog. We will also cover the forms of insights & information available to advertisers thank to new media. 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.

Most marketers  still work at siloed organizations that are built in a hierarchical and vertical way, reflecting an ancient management paradigm whilst the customer is leap-frogging ahead. Alvin Toffler said that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be the ones that cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, un-learn and re-learn.” I believe this perfectly encapsulates the zeitgeist and for many marketers this will be the last iceberg they will ever see, if they do not learn to grasp this technology.

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


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

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

Course description

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

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

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

Why This Workshop

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

In this workshop you will learn why:

1. Digital Is Not About ‘The Internet’

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

3. Digital Is About Behaviors, Not Technology

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

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

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course participants will:

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

The e-brochure is posted below:

Digital Marketing Workshop Brochure

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

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

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

Digital Workshop Journey

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

From The Archives (2008) – Online Marketing & Kids


Online Marketing & Kids
Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, September, 2008

by Umair Mohsin

Imagine a giant commercial that kids can enter, where they can talk and play with products and brand mascots / characters, a commercial that gives marketers access to a plethora of information about individual kids who interacted with their brand, including knowing their inner-most dreams and desires. This is the power of the immersive worlds that marketers can create on the World Wide Web, a medium which is fast becoming an important marketing tool in Pakistan.

Current kids (age under 12) in Pakistan are becoming the first totally wired generation of our country, especially the ‘millennials’ (children born in or after year 2000), for whom the internet and mobile technologies have always been there. Increasingly because of this factor the difference between online, digital and offline medium is fast disappearing. Trouble arises however when one wants to estimate the number of kids online. According to the latest figures released by PTA the total number of Internet subscribers crossed 3.5 million and total number of users crossed the 17 million mark in December 2007. The growth rates in telecom and broadband that our country is going through has put us in the top 10 fastest growing countries in Asia – 8.861% growth in internet users between year 2000 & 2007 alone. However specific data related to kids or their online usage is still not available from any agency. At best, we can guesstimate the size of the users by looking at the statistics from various websites and initiatives undertaken in Pakistan. The biggest success story of online marketing to kids is P&G and Commander Safeguard. The total number of kids who registered themselves for access to Commander Safeguard’s online material on the website http://www.commandersafeguard.com numbered two million whilst it was on the air. A more recent data is that of miniclips.com, an international website on which approx. three million impressions are generated monthly by a Pakistani audience aged between 7-15 years of age. Also recently Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant Google Pakistan on his personal website/blog @ www.badar.com.pk estimated that around 5% of the Pakistani users online are less than 20 years of age. It’s hard to gauge which figure represents the truest picture, but it can be safely assumed however that the number of users in Pakistan below the age of 12 in Pakistan has crossed the millionth mark.

This is important for marketers because with kids influencing the purchase of billions of Rupees worth of products (see Aurora Article – Meet Generation NOW & Whose Afraid Of New Media), this audience is clearly an important part of the marketing mix. Kids may not have the spending power of adults but there is little doubt about their ability to influence purchases through ‘Pester Power’.  It can also be easily assumed that kids with the most access to the net also belong to the SEC classes with the highest spending power.

To date there are few examples of online marketing initiatives aimed at kids in Pakistan which one can use to identify best practices or key learning however one of the most-oft repeated tactics that marketers have employed in targeting kids online is to combine advertising with entertainment. Traditional advertisements don’t work on the Internet, so advertisers seamlessly blend advertising content with games and / or other activities. This engages children interactively, allowing them to react to the content provided by the marketer and participate in online environments. This branded entertainment, particularly games (also called advergames), have thus become the tool of choice for marketers.

For children, an “advergaming” website can be more than a place to play and to explore. As a form of mediated communication, it departs in significant ways from television, the medium advertisers have traditionally used to reach children and which engages children only as passive consumers. The adver-gaming medium is much more powerful than that. Online games can provide a more highly involving and entertaining brand experience than is possible with conventional media. We can even characterized these as “virtual amusement parks”, where there are no natural breaks between commercial and non-commercial content typical of television which allows kids to escape the core marketed message with the single press of a button. Here the message is the experience.

At a more fundamental level, marketers have also used the immersive world to serve as a central organizing platform for an entire integrated marketing communications program. It can and has been used to create synergies among various brand building programs so that the total impact is greater than it would otherwise be. Internet here is not displacing television viewing but rather supplementing it. Children already are doing more “media multi-tasking” or using multiple types of media simultaneously which gives marketers an ideal opportunity to ensure that the core message is heard across all mediums. This best example of this is the recent Energile campaign.

Unilever has shown a leadership stance in this, utilizing both of the tactics successfully with the launch of http://www.energilefootball.com. This initiative was made part of the Energile Youth Football Championship (EYFC) 2008 which heralded the beginning of Energile’s commitment to football in Pakistan. Partnering with brands such as Nike and Karachi United FC, the aim was to set up at a grassroots level, a forum where the best young talent of the country can showcase their talent. Aside from other features, the site utilizes an ‘adver-game’ highlighting its core energy message and the football platform. Unilever’s integrated this campaign further by developing ‘Energile Football’, a mobile game that can be downloaded by consumers in Pakistan. This game was recently promoted through SMS and internet advertising, and allowed consumers to post their hi-scores through fugumobile’s (developers) proprietary Game Tournament platform. High scorers were then eligible to win prizes from Energile. So far Unilever has kept mum about the results of the initiative but looks set to grow it further.

From a historical perspective this is nothing new. Companies creating branded content to appeal to kids is as old as the first days of television. However what is different in these virtual worlds that changes the equation for brand marketers is that a child’s interaction and emotional engagement is very high. Young consumers have to seek out desired content and interact with it in some way. This is an inherently active process: surfing through a website demands a continuing series of decisions and actions. It is this feature that distinguishes the Internet from a more passive medium like television. Rather than capturing children’s attention for 30 seconds, the advertiser may now actively engage children for several minutes and maybe more.

Beyond its power to create brand engagement, however, the Internet also has several additional advantages from a marketer’s perspective. First, it is a cost-effective way to deliver a brand message. While the cost to air a television commercial ranges from approximately Rs. 0.60 per thousand viewers (depending on channel, time slot, frequency, budget, etc), there are no media distribution costs once a website has been created. Once development costs are spread across the number of users interacting with the site, the cost per thousand will be significantly decreased and will continue to do so as the site expands. So there are real economic efficiencies to be gained.

Secondly, the technology of the Internet also provides audience tracking capabilities. While it can be difficult for a marketer to gauge the impact of a television commercial, the Internet allows a much more precise assessment via measures such as the number of visitors, time spent on a site, repeat visits, etc. Traditional marketing tools such as diaries or even people meters may give advertisers a general idea of their audience profile, in terms of age and maybe gender but individual children are anonymous. Internet marketers on the other hand are able to collect data about specific users, through the use of online registration forms, quizzes and surveys.

Thirdly, TV advertisers purchase time slots between TV shows, which they select because they hope their product or service will appeal to the same audience the programs attract. On the Internet, brands create their own programming. They build entire online environments to create associations with their own products, to establish brand loyalty, and to collect information about their present and future customers. Just some of the methods that can be used by advertisers to involve kids with their products include the creation of virtual environments that make kids feel as if they are entering an actual place, friendly cartoon mascots that encourage kids to identify with the brand, interactive games and activities like coloring pages, quizzes featuring brand-name products and their characters, downloadable screensavers or email “postcards” that can be sent to other kids, clubs that kids can join or contests they can enter to win prizes. Even the prizes that are offered can feature product logos, slogans or characters.

One thing is changing for sure however because of which marketers in Pakistan cannot afford to maintain the status quo. Thanks to the online medium, creating a clear profile of your kid’s audience is no longer a straight-forward marketing exercise that falls into simple categories. The only common denominator that exists in this group is the fact that they’re all kids. The similarities stop there. Kids often have one type of image at home and a totally different image online (Please see Aurora Article “Cats Don’t Bark“ published) and marketers will need to learn how to cater to both.  One brand which maybe regarded as totally cool in say a kid’s school maybe regarded as the opposite in a virtual world. This is simply because online dynamics are different, since the audience is behaving under different conditions. Their identities are changed with perhaps totally different friends and thus they have different needs. Thus they may adopt completely different attitudes towards brands that will appear contradictory.

Thus it is essential that the link between the product, brand values, online & offline marketing vehicles and relevance is clear at all times. Relevance itself will have two dimensions. First in relation to the particular personality segment you are addressing, and second, to your core brand values. If you don’t fulfill both aspects, it’s more likely you’ll end up tuned out and turned off.

There have been exercises by many marketers who have tried to enter this medium but without an understanding of its dynamics. They’ve felt the need to break through by creating a really disruptive experience for their target users. This is a world where the audience does not like to be disrupted however and no one hates it more than our kid’s audience. A disruptive advertising experience in their space is equivalent to creating a bad brand experience. They want respect and will only respect those brands that show them that.

For kids more and more “Going on the Internet” is ceasing to be something special and unique simply because now it’s always there and becoming an inherent part of their lives. They are increasingly immersed in the “digital” lifestyle and in the future this will change the world of marketing, technology and communications. The challenge is for marketers to understand that not only their media but their whole world is now fragmenting. Life for today’s kids increasingly resembles one of those ubiquitous blogs that go up every second: random, breathless and intensely personal. To market to this dynamic population, companies will need to tap into platforms well beyond traditional media such as broadband video, immersive environments, mobile marketing and maybe even instant messaging.

Thus marketers should start to engrain themselves in kids’ interactive lives. Youth marketing currently is already flushed with sponsored events, games, contests and ringtone promotions yet today’s teens are more sophisticated, demanding and powerful consumers than their parents ever were. Tomorrow’s teens will be even more so because they’ve been wired from the day they were born and it will take a lot more to appeal to them. That’s why it’s very important to learn to live in their world from now.

What To Expect In Pakistan’s Technology Sector in 2010


Published Dawn, Sci-Tech, January 3rd, 2010

With growth expected to return to the global IT industry in 2010 with 3.2% expected increase for the year, returning the industry to 2008 spending levels of about $1.5 trillion (Source: Gartner), BRIC countries growing 8–13% and Pakistan’s GDP crossing the US $160 Billion mark, technology industry will do well for 2010.

The upcoming year appears poised to build on the strength of trends already in place: greater mobility, greener technologies, mobile technologies, more powerful hardware and web-enabled products and applications that focus on collaboration and interoperability. Here’s what we think is in store.

Hardware Gets Smaller, More Powerful and Greener

This is a no brainer. Intel Pakistan has announced that its new 32nm architecture codenamed Sandy Bridge will arrive in 2010. It will succeed the 45nm Nehalem architecture and will have up to eight cores on the same die, 512KB L2 cache and 16MB L3 cache. Also new will be the addition of Instruction AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) which might be as significant as the introduction of SSE in 1999. To complement this Intel will also introduce the new Clarkdale family across the mid-range segment. With clock frequencies from 3.2GHz up to 3.46GHz, It will be Intel’s first 32nm processor and will grab the baton from the Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad series. This will bring a revolution in gaming, applications, HD & multimedia and at a price that is really sweet.

Online Reaches Critical Mass

Pakistan is among the five dynamic economies of developing Asia in terms of increased penetration of mobile phones, internet and broadband says the Information Economy Report, 2009 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In the area of internet penetration, Pakistan is placed at the third position and for broadband penetration the country is at the fourth position in Asia. With Wimax taking off and providers such as Wateen already boasting of 100,000 connections, we can safely predict that internet in Pakistan will reach critical mass this year (up from its current 11.6% penetration) and move from being a niche channel to figure more prominently in our lives.

The Year Of The Mobile: m-Commerce, Mobile Web and Micro-lending

Expect the mobile phone to further its hold over our lives. 2010 will see it being used for micro-lending, micro-payments, reporting violence and human rights abuses and crowd-sourcing crisis information.

It will also become the default charity tool. For a while now, we’ve been able to leverage the immediacy of being able to donate instantly to a cause through SMS text to give campaigns. Expect NGOs to further improve these platforms in 2010, allowing you to donate instantly.

The mobile Web is also starting to emerge in Pakistan as a low-cost way to deliver simple mobile applications to a range of devices. Expect more financial institutions to take initiatives in this field and more consumer oriented ventures such as music platforms to be announced this year.

The next big thing in mobile however will be location based social networks (marriage of mobile and social networks) and real time web – also known as cloud computing. We’re expecting some company to announce a venture in this field this year.

Enterprise Computing: Green IT & Sustainable Computing

Rising energy costs, the rise of the carbon credits market and pressure from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference will make sustainability a source of opportunity for the Pakistani IT industry in 2010 locally and globally. We predict that new IT companies dealing with Carbon Management Software will be setup and existing enterprise software vendors will announce forays into the field. This market stands to become bigger than the global financial software market, so it’s impossible to think firms will not take advantage of this.

Intel Core i5 750 – First Look


Intel Core i5 LogoIntel took a big leap forward in the design department when it launched Core i7 900-series processors last year. Just a few of these improvements included a new triple-channel memory controller integrated into the chip, a new QuickPath Interconnect system to replace (and improve upon) the front-side bus architecture of old and the return of hyperthreading that split the chip’s four physical cores into eight virtual cores for increased system performance.

The Core i7 900-series chips were based on a new Intel X58 chipset and LGA1366 socket, therefore aspiring enthusiasts had to invest in new motherboards to reap the benefits of the Core i7 900-series platform. This rig was also expensive, so Intel recently launched a more mainstream processor – the Core i5.

The Core i5

The new Intel Core i5 750 is the first release in a series of processors based on a mainstream version of the Core i7 platform. It is a quad-core part based on the “Lynnfield” architecture, fabricated using a 45nm process ( Intel’s newest processor architecture known as Nehalem) and utilizes the new LGA1156 platform (note: Different from the Core i7’s LGA 1366). The Core i5 750 CPU is set to cost around the Rs. 16,000 mark and will operate at a 2.66GHz speed. It will feature a whopping 8MB L3 cache, but no Hyper-Threading support will be present.

Like the i7, the Core i5 CPU also run on Intel’s latest P55 chipset, which necessitates a new motherboard purchase for use. What’s changed, however, is that the Core i5 CPUs has adopted a different permutations of the fanciest of the Core i7 900-series’ features.

Core i5

What has been dropped

To make it more economical Intel has removed the QuickPath Interconnect and triple-channel memory controller and replaced it with a Direct Media Interface (DMI) and dual-channel memory controller. The difference is that QPI is like hyper transport with bandwidth of 25.6GB/s. It is the new “front side bus” being a direct link from the CPU(s) to the north bridge. DMI on the other hand is a connection between the north bridge and the south bridge with bandwidth of 2-4 GB/s. Does it matter? Not much. Most software don’t require such heavy power just yet offered by QPI and given the minute performance differences between current dual- and triple-channel memory configurations this is not much of a loss. This is however bad for future proofing. If you were to go out, and buy an Core i5 rig right now, a year down the road, when prices drop and you’d like to purchase the i7, you’ll have to buy another motherboard and new ram from scratch. It is not designed with the upgrade consumer in mind. But even remaining on the same platform means plenty of options such as future offerings including the 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 processors that will have a thermal design power of just 73 watts, 23% less than that of the 45nm Lynnfield architecture. Also meant to use the same platform are the Core i3 series and let’s not forget the Core i7 800 series.

Secondly, an integrated PCI Express graphics controller on this Lynnfield CPUs can either deliver 16 lanes of bandwidth to a single PCI Express 2.0 videocard or split this connection into two x8 lanes for an SLI or CrossFire setup. Although it’s a cut from the full 32 lanes (for a dual 16x or quad-8x configuration) provided by Core i7’s X58 chipset, the bandwidth reduction should only affect those who SLI or CrossFire dual-GPU videocards.

Third, like we mentioned earlier, the core i5 has no hyper-threading. While Core i7 is a quad-core, it appears in Windows as having eight cores. This further improves performance when using programs that make good use of multi-threading. Core i5 products, however, will not have this feature, which means operating systems will recognize the processors as having four core and no more. This will have no affect on the performance of most applications, like web browsers and even games, but it will be a blow to those who use 3D rendering software and other such programs that excel with multi-threading.
Performance

For the most part, the Core i5’s internal workings are identical to existing Core i7 processor and offsetting the superficially dumbed down feature set is a more aggressive implementation of Intel’s auto-overclocking feature known as Turbo Boost. Whilst the Core i7 900-series CPUs will only increase their multipliers to a maximum of two additional steps according to system demands (effectively taking a 3.33-GHz processor to 3.6-GHz depending on how many cores are in use), the new Lynnfield Core i5 750 processors are able to jump up four multiplier steps (2.66-GHz to a maximum 3.2-GHz) with Turbo Boost enabled. With over-clocking you can easily expect to hit the 3.6 GHz mark and even up to 4.3 GHz if you know how to. This chip has a lot of room to spare.

Our Test

Instead of using a high-end system, we decided to put the Intel Core i5 750 to the test using a real-world system that mostly anyone can afford and running just a gaming test for lack of other options.

System Configuration:

Manufacturer: Intel
Family: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU 750 @ 2.67GHz
Architecture: 64-bit
MultiCore: 4 Processor Cores
Capabilities: MMX, CMov, RDTSC, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, PAE, NX, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2
Cache
Level 3, 8 MB
Level 2, 256 KB
Level 1, 32 KB

Graphics Card: 1GB PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT (Microsoft Corporation – WDDM v1.1)
DirectX Info: Version 10.1
RAM: 2 GB DDR2

Test Results

Core i5 Specs

Benchmark Results

3D Mark Advantage Specs Core i5

Checking the scores online shows that the Core i5 750’s score of 12624 falls right around the scores set by competing PCs that use Core i7 920 processors and is better than the scores set by the Core 2 Duos and most of the Core 2 Quads of the world.

CPU Test 1 Score: 1794.93 Plans / sec

AI: The AI test features a high-intensity workload of co-operative maneuvering and path-finding artificial intelligence calculations. The test setting is an airplane race course crowded with planes, all attempting to navigate through a series of gates while avoiding collisions with each other and the ground. The test load consists of the movement planning for each airplane. The workload is entirely parallelized, and can utilize multi-core CPUs to the fullest. Faster CPUs will be able to compute more frequent and timely movement plans for the airplanes, resulting in smarter flight routes.

The CPU tests run at a fixed resolution of 1280×1024, and most of the graphics options are drastically reduced. There are almost no post-processing effects, no complex shaders, no shadows, and none of the world outside what you see on screen is modeled. The idea is to limit the impact of the GPU so much that even budget, entry-level cards can display the tests so easily that they’re entirely CPU-limited.

The i5 blew past this test with flying colors better than a 3.0GHz Core 2 Extreme 9650 quad-core CPU would perform (score: 1678).

CPU Test 2 Score: 15.52 Steps /s

Physics: The Physics Test features a heavy workload of future generation game physics computations. The scene is set at an air race, but with an unfortunately dangerous configuration of gates. Planes trailing smoke collide with various cloth and soft-body obstacles, each other, and the ground. The smoke spreads, and reacts to the planes passing through it.

The test spawns one pair of gates for each CPU core. So, four gates in a quad-core CPU. If there’s a hardware physics card in the system, subtract one from that number and then add four (seven gates in a quad-core system). Each pair of gates is its own independent physically simulated “world” and does not interact with the other pairs of gates.

Since we didn’t have a PhysX card, the system performed at normal levels expected for the configuration.

Our Evaluation

Gaming

The tests of Core i5 indicate that its gaming performance will match or is better than that of the Core i7 920. This, more than anything, is likely due to the Lynnfields’  improving on the Turbo Boost feature. However, if you already own a high-end Core 2 Duo or Quad, upgrading only on the basis of gaming performance isn’t the best idea. If you are in the market for a new one, definitely buy the Core i5.

Power

We couldn’t test this feature ourselves, so we’ll take Intel’s word for it. Intel has been going to great lengths to ensure their processors use as little power as possible. Core i5 is no exception. The new power management feature throttles down the cores automatically when they aren’t being used. This, along with a general refinement of the manufacturing process has resulted in a processor that just sips at power. It is our guess that a Core i5 system, even when paired with a high-end graphics card, will idle at under 100 watts – for the entire system. This is an impressive achievement.

Overall:
The Core i5 750 looks to be a solid winner. Its true strength lies in the Turbo Boost Technology. With it, the processor can automatically overclock all four of its cores independently to match the workload at hand. Down-clocking works equally as well thanks to new power saving features. The only thing it is lacking compared to the other Lynnfield processors is hyper-threading.

This system is highly recommended for those looking to dip their toes into the Nehalem platform without breaking the bank. The Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad parts will eventually die out, putting an end to the LGA775 platform, so it only makes sense now to buy  this far superior system than invest a new in an old one.

Cheat Sheet:

If you’re as confused as a whole lot of us with all this information over-load, here’s a cheat sheet for use to compare different Intel’s offerings. (source: PC World)
Intel Lynnfield Chips

Beyond The Core – Intel Roadmap 2010


Ashar H. Zaidi, Country Manager, Intel Pakistan recently shared Intel’s Vision for 2010. One of the more interesting things shared was a roadmap of Intel’s Tick Tock development model until 2012. Each tock is the introduction of a new architecture while each tick is the introduction of a smaller production process. Currently Intel is introducing the 45nm Nehalem “tock” and in 2010 you can expect a 32nm shrink of Nehalem

Intel Tick Tock Model codenamed Westmere.

A new architecture will also arrive in 2010, that tock will introduce the 32nm Sandy Bridge. Sandy bridge is the 32nm architecture will succeed the 45nm Nehalem architecture in 2010. Sandy Bridge (formerly also known as Gesher) will have up to eight cores on the same die, 512KB L2 cache and 16MB L3 cache. Also new will be the addition of Instruction AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) which might be as significant as the introduction of SSE in 1999. According to Intel the introduction of AVX will enhance the performance of certain matrix multiplication instructions by 90 percent.

Even though Asher didn’t go into further architectures, the next actually after that will be the introduction of a 22nm shrink of Sandy Bridge. Most of you will probably already have heard about these upcoming processors, but if you haven’t, than know that in 2011 you can expect the 22nm Ivy Bridge and one year later you can expect the new 22nm Haswell architecture. The 22nm architecture is expected to replace the Sandy Bridge architecture in 2012. This architecture is probably still four years away from us in Pakistan but early information tells us that this processor architecture will have a native eight-core design, a whole new cache architecture, “revolutionary” energy saving technologies, the FMA (Fused Multiply-Add) instruction set and possibly on-package vector co-processors.

Asher also talked about the chip giant’s plans for the Value, Mid-range, Performance and Extreme segments. Already in the works is Intel’s Lynnfield (LGA1156) platform will start out with a trio of processors, two Core i7-8xx models and one Core i5-7xx model (i5-750 review coming up next). However, by 2010 Intel will introduce the new Clarkdale family across the mid-range segment. With clock frequencies from 3.2GHz up to 3.46GHz. It will be Intel’s first 32nm processors and grab the relay baton from the Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad series.

Intel Client Roadmap 2010

It is expected that in 2010, Intel will also announce the six-core Gulftown processor that is listed after Core i7-Extreme in this presentation. Rumor have suggested that Intel will make this processor the Core i9 series. Asher said to keep tuned for a January announcement.

Intel Roadmap 2010 - WestmereAsher talked a great deal about the upcoming Westmere. Like Nehalem, Westmere will support Intel technologies incorporated into Nehalem like Hyper-Threading, Intel Turbo Boost, and an integrated memory controller. When it launches, two Westmere-based cores will be offered: Clarkdale for desktops (mainstream/ value segments), and Arrandale for notebooks (mainstream/ value segments).

Both Clarkdale and Arrandale will sport two processing cores with Hyper-Threading, bringing support for up to four threads to run simultaneously, and they’ll also be the first Intel CPUs to feature integrated graphics on the CPU package (although it won’t be on the same piece of silicon as the CPU die). Intel also says both CPUs will support dual-channel DDR3, with 4MB cache. In another first, the new processors will also support Intel’s new AES instructions: these are 7 new instructions focused on delivering accelerated encryption/decryption. This should reap benefits for users concerned about data security who would like to encrypt their hard drive.

The performance benefits for these chips will largely come from the improved bandwidth and reduced latency Intel obviously reaps by integrating the CPU and GPU closer together on the same package, as well as higher clock speeds. Unlike the 32-nm Westmere CPU, the graphics chip used will be based on Intel’s existing 45-nm process.

Intel 2 Chip Solution

This move will make life tougher for someone like NVIDIA, which has touted their superior graphics performance before with integrated graphics products like GeForce 9400M, which has won numerous design wins including Apple Macbook. But with graphics moving off of the chipset and directly onto the CPU itself, it’s more efficient for someone like Apple, Dell, or HP to just use the integrated graphics provided by the CPU rather than going to the expense of using an NVIDIA chipset. Fortunately Clarkdale and Arrandale support switchable graphics, so a discrete GPU could be combined with the CPU to deliver superior 3D performance when needed for apps like gaming, and then switch back to the integrated graphics to conserve power.

Finally Intel has also talked about  a renewed emphasis on packing more features–such as better graphics–into mobile chips, particularly those going into laptops.

Netbooks

Atom

My Own Thoughts.

It seems that the recession is biting Intel. How else can you explain the increased focus on the mainstream and value segments, than the extreme. Gulftown e.g. is not launching till late 2010. Intel knows that one of Core i7’s key weaknesses is cost. All Core i7 CPUs require Intel’s X58 platform, and pricey DDR3 memory, and as any enthusiast can tell you, motherboards based on Intel’s X-series chipsets have never been cheap. While X58 motherboard price have come down considerably since launch, X58 motherboards still start right around the Rs. 24000, with the price quickly going up from there on more feature-rich motherboards.

To address this issue, Intel is planning to introduce mainstream derivatives of Nehalem. These processors will utilize a new CPU socket and 5-series chipset, making them incompatible with the X58/Core i7 platform and vice versa. They’ll also utilize a dual-channel memory controller rather than the triple-channel controller used on the Core i7.

But I also believe that Intel realizes that it’s very much ahead of the competition.  AMD’s quad-core Phenom II parts are more competitive with today’s Core 2 Penryn CPUs than Nehalem, so again, there’s no rush to introduce new parts in this space when your existing lineup should be more than adequate enough to outperform the competition. Intel isn’t even bother with Quad Core versions of Arrandale & Clarksdale, it’s so far ahead.

Anyway, here is a quick summary guide for those who got lost in the tick-tock wave (Source: Wikipedia):

Typically, the same dies are used for uniprocessor (UP) and dual-processor (DP) servers, but using an extra QuickPath link for the inter-processor communication in the DP server variant


Mobile Desktop
UP Server
DP Server MP Server
Dual-Core 32 nm
Dual-Channel, PCIe, Graphics Core
Arrandale
80617
Clarkdale
80616
Quad-Core 45 nm
Dual-Channel, PCIe
Clarksfield
80607
Lynnfield
80605
Jasper Forest
80612
Quad-Core 45 nm
Triple-Channel
Bloomfield
80601
Gainestown
80602
Six-Core 32 nm
Triple-Channel
Gulftown
80613
Gulftown
80614
Eight-Core 45 nm
Triple-Channel
Beckton
80604

For the presentation:

A Quick Review Of Telenor’s Internet Data Connectivity on Persona Package


Telenor PersonaI recently shifted my phone connection to Telenor’s Post-paid Persona Package with Unlimited Data Connectivity. The reason for choosing Telenor was that it offers the widest EDGE connectivity when compared to other operators in Pakistan, supposedly in more than 2000 cities & towns of Pakistan, which is very useful for someone like me who travels a lot.

Secondly, being a heavy user of the prepay version, paying @Rs. 15 per MB was burning a hole in my pocket, the size of  a small Earth.

Here’s a quick recap for those who don’t know about the features of the Persona’s Unlimited Connectivity Package.

  • You Get 2GB of data bandwith (which is calculated as Upload + Download) for only Rs. 500 + tax per month.
  • Additional data usage will be charged at Rs. 5 per MB w/0 tax = Rs. 6 with Tax.
  • Refundable Security is Rs. 1,000.

I have been a very satisfied user of Pre-Paid internet and have always encountered fast speeds, thus I expected the same on the post-paid package, so after buying it, i put it to the test.

My Testing Equipment:

1. Nokia 5730 Phone Connected To My Core 2 Duo Laptop via Nokia Ovi Suite 2.0.

2. Multiple Online Tests Such As http://www.speedtest.net and download from http://www.download.com.

3. Areas Tested: Korangi, Clifton, PECHS.

Testing Telenor Persona Connectivity

Results:

On the Post-paid package the average speed i’ve encountered is 56 kbps (7 KB per second) to a maximum of 104 kbps (12 KB per second) during bursts.

telenor persona connectivity test
Maximum Burst Copyright@iStrategem

Most of the time however the speed stays within the 6 KB – 8KB per second limit.

Telenor Persona Connectivity
Average Rate Copyright@iStrategem

The Ping & Latency rate on the connection is very high and most times the packets time out. As you can see below, testing with the Sprint servers, the average speed (up and down) is 82 kbps/84 kbps (9.5 KB per second) with a latency of 462 ms. In the real world, this means that services such as streaming music (internet radio) don’t work at all on the connection, whilst watching YouTube videos through the connection  will ensure that the video will constantly buffer.

Mobile Broadband On Telenor Persona

Conclusion

Coverage:

Generally coverage is quite reasonable. The network offers above average reliability (it always connected fast) and as far as EDGE coverage in Karachi is concerned, it was very good.

General Usability:

Telenor is offering a GPRS level of service at most places. It’s good enough for email or basic surfing but don’t expect to open content rich pages or watch videos on your phone anytime soon.

Conclusion: At most places you will only be able to get a GPRS level of service (48 Kbps) and not the speeds promised by EDGE (384 kbps) and in that manner you are paying a very high price.

Due the comparatively slow and unstable speeds, it is recommended only if you only intend to use it for general/basic Internet activity.

On the whole it certainly makes for an effective remote working or land-line backup connection. which still makes it a useful, if not quite yet a true mass market land-line broadband alternative.

Update: 1st December, 2009

Since the publication of this post, Telenor seems to have updated its service levels. The average speed now regularly hits 18-20 KB per second.

Telenor Persona Speed Check

Updated: 22nd December, 2009

It was too much to expect for the service levels to continue. The speeds didn’t last. Whatever it was, it was fun whilst it lasted. Speeds are back to the pre-updated levels hovering between 5-6 KB per second.

Nokia 5230 XM Launched In Pakistan. Nokia X6 Announced.


Nokia 5230Nokia’s launched it’s budget line of smart-phones with the 5230 Xpress Music phone in Pakistan on Wednesday,  5th of November, 2009. Following are its specifications:

  • 3.2 inch touch screen display with full-screen QWERTY keyboard and handwriting recognition
  • 2-megapixel camera
  • A-GPS navigation and the latest version of Ovi Maps

    Nokia 5230
    Ambiance At 5230 @Copyright iStratagem
  • Memory expandable up to 16GB via a microSD card
  • 33 hours of music playback time
  • Bluetooth 2.0 and a 3.5mm AV connector

Like the 5800 XM, it runs on S60 5th Edition and therefore is touch-enabled. It also means that you get access to the same GUI, with a Media Bar with quick access to your favorite media and applications, such as music, photos. The Contacts bar features thumbnail images for up to 20 close friends and provides easy access to them and their communications history including emails, phone calls, photos or other social media updates. It’s priced between 8000 PKR to 12000 PKR.

 

Nokia 5230 Launch
Shot With A Nokia 5730 Copyright@iStratagem

Nokia X6

It was also announced at the launch that the X6, Nokia’s new, top of the range, Xseries mobile phone, will also be launched into the market soon and that along with it, Nokia is trying to launch the  ‘Comes With Music’ platform in Pakistan too. The X6 phone was announced by Nokia around two months ago and is likely to cost around the 50,000 PKR price point. Nokia’s broken away from its brick form factors and used a long chassis for the X6 which now (thankfully) supports a healthy

Nokia's Brand Ambassadors
Copyright@Nokia

capacitive 16:9 aspect ratio display, measuring 3.2in along with a built in 5-megapixel camera complete with a Carl Zeiss lens plus a dual LED flash. The built in memory – 32GB, while other features include a TV-out socket, A-GPS, a web browser and support for Flash Lite.

Cristophe Corsi
Copyright@Nokia

Nokia’s Head Of Marketing For Live Platform, Cristophe Corsi was also present and gave Nokia’s understanding of the new multimedia platforms that are being enabled due to the digital revolution, though how it’s different from Apple’s Strategy & platform, still beats me. They also have a ‘Music Manager’ (erm!…like ITunes) in place complete with DRM.

Marketing 2.0 – Leveraging Facebook For Brand Building


Facing Up To Facebok

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

Facebook
Facebook

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

Description

Facebook.com

Zedge.net

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.