Saturday, April 24, 2010

Monetizing digital content

I made this presentation for my session on April 21, at Web Analytics Wednesday in Duabi

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Digital Strategy

I haven't posted anything for ages. I guess I have lost my motivation for advertising to a certain degree.
I have moved my career into digital, my friends say I work "in the internet", but once you combine that with advertising it tends to get somewhat boring.
I have tried to attend so many seminars and workshop about the topic and the outcome of each is "the industry is still premature" or "a lot of things will change", "we are not sure what will happen", "we are still experimenting"; I was fed up with all of this and decided to attend an executive education course at Harvard called Taking marketing Digital, which only proved the same thing - yet with bigger players admitting the same including the likes of FaceBook, Twitter, and Second Life.
The only place i felt I learnt something was at "The Battle of Big Thinking" in London, where the key take out from all the big agencies was: There is no such thing as social media, there is only being social; and that digital is built into products, it is not an advertising layer added after the product is developed.
Moving this further I have come to believe that digital needs to be functional as opposed to advertising which tends to take the emotional route.
What I also like about this is that digital is something to discuss with the product teams and R&D as opposed to the marcomms team which to a certain extent has very little leverage on the product.
I'm currently working on my next big presentation about digital strategy, focusing on how digital needs to be functional and built into products following the product attributes and not the "brand essence" or "campaign idea".
I would like your comments on this please...
I promise to have my next presentation up by end of February.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Arabia 2.0 Censored

Slightly late, however we made it. Web 2.0 is the buzz words at most organizations in Arabia. Every Tom, Dick, and Harriet want to lead their company into the new global digital era (and rightly so). This conversation is taking place in some of the most advanced board rooms in Arabia.

We need to make customers feel that they are part of our development process and get their feedback on the things we do.

The first proposal; be it from the board, the marketing team, or the ad agency is generally a blog. A very simple proposition, a basic website that is almost free to develop and easy to upload articles to. Sounds like a great idea, let’s do it. We will mark it as very urgent, and need to have it up in two weeks – it’s about time.

During the development process, one of the key decisions that need to be taken is whether to allow comment moderation (meaning; can customers directly upload their comments or do they need to get prior approval from the blog owners). Does this mean that anyone come on my blog and tell me F$#%@ you? No way! This should not be tolerated, we will need to review the comments before they are published on our property. This is generally the first flaw in Web 2.0 adoption within Arabia. This will apply to all things open social, and not restricted to blogs.

The premise behind Web 2.0 is Transparency (also known as radical transparency, and transparency tyranny), this implies that you need to be confident with your offering, and trusting of your customer. It is also very necessary to get your customers on board. I don’t know about you, but I can care less about helping out a company and giving my opinion, if they want to scrutinize the comment before it is public, and possibly reprimand my actions. The price of fame you get from the web is transparency (be it for personal or business gain), and negative comments are the risk directly related to the positive comments reward you would get.

Instead of trusting the community, which as we saw globally has made the likes of Wikipedia through crowd moderation; Arabia has decided to follow a Database marketing approach where we offer users a free ringtone in exchange for their personal information and constantly send them spam messages whereby they can only reply to us, and most of the time we forget to include the opt-out hyperlink forcing them to take our verbal diarrhea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some thoughts about Dads

Myself and the charismatic Nicolas Chidiac of Leo Burnett have been looking for a term to describe the unfortunate phenomenon of overestimating someone's intelligence during your younger, less experienced years; and then post a significant time lag you reconnect only to realize the gross overestimation you had made during your earlier years.

So after long heated debate, myself and the cerebral Nicolas coined the term Paternal Enchanment to describe over estimating someone intelligence when you don't know any better and Paternal Disenchantment when that moment of that tragic epiphany of 'he's not as astute as I thought he was' strikes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Attending Click 2009: Dubai

Here I was randomly invited to
Click 2009: Digital and Online Marketing Summit, when I am requested to fill in for a panelist (a PHD professor of Corporate communications at Singapore Management University) who did not make it. What’s the topic? “Effectively Using Online Social Media and Networks to Boost Your Marketing Efforts” I thought piece of cake, no one knows anything about the topic anyway so I might as well sit and preach – or at least give my opinion.
The first question asked to the panelist was: “Do advertising agencies understand social networks and how to best get ROI”? I found it a perfect opportunity to bash every ad agency in the region (if not globally), then a sense of ethics kicked in. I answered the following: “does Mark Zuckerberg understand social networking and how to best get ROI, because
Facebook is not making money” needless to elaborate on the financial situation of other social networks.
We cannot blame advertisers and marketers (solely) for the issues we are facing in monetizing social networks and the internet. Obviously a banner ad does not work, and the only forms of digital advertising that have gotten some traction in terms of ROI are applications and widgets (the good ones at least). But is this advertising, or does it classify as product development? Is it something that the digital media owners should offer, or are they things brands should create from scratch with the likes of

Yes it is time, we are in dire need for you to quit your job, and setup the next Agency 2.0 that will remodel digital advertising, make the difference, and rake in the billions.

Other highlights of the summit included:

- The Tragic Assassination of a Soap Bar: A very good presentation by Leo Burnett’s Strategic Planning Director Nicolas Chidiac
- A person presented the Nakheel water saving initiative as an example of a great campaign LOL! Because all of the people who believe in water conservation and making a difference will actually purchase property from the maker of the Palm, the world, another Palm etc.

- The other presentations and conversations I had there were pretty much stating the obvious, or trying to sell ads on certain digital properties

- I learnt about
Netlog, a Social Network focusing on Teens and Youth with a claimed 2.5 million users from the Middle East

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shared Uncertainties

Our CEO Osman Sultan has recently mentioned the following quote in one of his presentations “we are moving from an age on unshared certainties to one of shared uncertainties”. Indicating that previously industries were completely separate from each other, and each specific industry had its certain ways of doing things. After the new 2.0 era and the basic symptoms of convergence all industries are trying to change and to a certain extent integrate with one another. This has resulted in similar uncertainties that are shared across industries.
As humans we like to be in control, and know what to expect. This is why we try to forecast figures for the future, see clairvoyants and set 5 year plans. We are now at a stage where we cannot forecast for next week and it makes everyone frustrated.
It’s like being hit by a sandstorm (as is common in Dubai), and it has resulted in a feeling of claustrophobia and frustration; one where we cannot plan our upcoming vacation, cannot make long term financial commitments, nor being able to work towards a long term goal.
Welcome to the age of real-time or JIT (just in time), the age of digital. It’s as if the off-line world has miraculously changed to suit the online one. An age where we cannot call a travel agent, give them an itinerary and wait for their proposals because we want to travel tomorrow. An age where waiting more than one minute is considered a long long time. One where you’re internet connection speed determines the pace of your life.
I have personally always loved fast paced city life, but am currently very frustrated by the lack of clarity. I cannot make plans for next weekend as I don’t know if I will need to be called into work; so if the weekend comes and I know that I am free I go online and buy a ticket to travel for two days to make the most of the days I have off.
There is no conclusion for this article, it’s more of a situational analysis indicating that we need to change the way we look at things. We need to be more impulsive, and possibly learn a few lessons from the Vodafone Mayfly...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Advertising on the mobile phone

I presented this at the MenaCristal advertising Festival in Lebanon, January '09

Monday, October 20, 2008

Let's all feel bad all the time

Why do we all love to feel bad?

Let's see, I know this girl who recently broke up with her husband one day before their wedding night, poor gal that is so bad I feel sorry for her. What an interesting conversation to have over coffee... but please tell me why should I give a shit, I hardly know the girl who told me this story about her friend which I don't even know. My point being, we constantly seek things that my make us feel bad. Why do we always talk about these things, and in our free time see how bad Jack Bauer had it when his daughter was kidnapped and he was trapped in a hostage situation attempting to save the president? At other times we desperately seek to find out more information about the distressed citizens of Georgia.

Why do we care, why do we always want to see, hear, and learn more about things that make us depressed? Some say that we want to make everyone happy, that is why we want to help tsunami victims and contribute to charity, so with the aim of ensuring happiness we fill our time with discussing and trying to resolve all issues that make us feel bad.

Lets follow another route of thinking, we look at the sad things to appreciate our situation and happiness i.e. seeing the traumatized participants on Jerry Springer makes us see how good our family is.

The truth is however, that in the pursuit of happiness we have managed to virally disperse the negativity, turning each negative scenario into a community, country, or global epidemic.

Drop your Celine Dion music collection and watch some sitcoms, focus on things that put a smile on your face.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What makes branding suck?

Lack of reality.

I think we need to stop trying to live dreams and enjoy reality. Overpromising selling lines, “larger than life” CGI productions, unachievable aspirational values, and model casts.

Snap out of it!

Reality TV shows took over for a reason, so did ergonomic design, healthy food, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Yes when developing a brand, campaign, or a product; sky is the limit. This is why creative directors preach never killing an idea in a brain storming session.
It is good to dream, but we can do this on our own unless you are selling a dream enhancing machine.

A brand is meant to represent the company’s identity – applying this the other way around has proven miserable. Steve Jobs thought different, Richard Branson was a nonconformist, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin where true believers in simplicity and user-friendliness, Howard Schultz poured his heart into it (Starbucks), and P&G were boring.

Today’s companies, thanks to the expensive advice of corporate identity (CI) agencies, have been cross-dressing with queen outfits only to look rich and respectable.

I think the worst customer experience is when a brand promises something… and then they hear the CEO speak, visit the stores, or use the products only to realize that it was the CI and Ad agencies talking to them as opposed to the companies.

As lame as it sounds, my advice for everyone in the process of creating a brand or re-branding (which is the trend today) is BE YOURSELF. Promise what you believe in, and act as yourself. Customers can smell a fake a mile away, and they love reality. By selling what you love (I hate to use this term, it makes me sound like a consultant) it’s a win-win situation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It is transmedia planning, Interactive communication, and tastes like chicken

As the mundane marketers go for multi-million dollar campaigns that boosts their ego, and emphasizes the ivory tower stature – other brands have come down to the consumer level, they talked to them, met with them, added them to face book, and got their comments to tailor their strategy for a fraction of the cost – or in other words they did the cluck!
Leo Burnett has developed the ultimate campaign 2.0 for Nando’s Kuwait.
The campaign is about the life journey of Fred the Chicken, an outcast HipHop mascot who has worked all his life to get into Nando’s and finally got rejected for not living up to their chicken quality standards. Fred later started an organization against chicken discrimination known as Chicken Power.
You can view the work on
Fred’s blog where he posted his life journey, riots in malls against chicken discrimination, his fight with Nando’s chicken Fernando Amore, tours of his crib, his music video, and finally a video were he barges into Nando’s and demands to be eaten.
Fred also has his group on Facebook, Videos on YouTube, and a music video on Melody Hits all of which are getting an exponential number of hits and many comments from Kuwaiti customers some of which are in love with him. Fred is very close to his fans, he responds to their comments, acts in accordance with their requests, and occasionally gives them flowers.
I truly hope that this approach gets adopted by other regional companies / operations and contributes to the rise of true interactive marketing, only with no comment-moderation this time.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The "Stand out" theory

Have you ever thought that you are right and everyone else is wrong? The truth is… You are right; but so is everyone else. We are generally prohibited from doing what we think is right due to our fear of risk or dis-consensus which results in pointing the fingers of blame. There is never one right way of doing things, typically each way has its draw backs but generally when you know you are right you put significant effort in whatever you are doing, you end up with a better result.
We have developed committees to avoid going with one person’s whim, however committees tend to dilute passion and ownership in addition to general risk taking which forces us to concede to lesser things for the sake of consensus – resulting in a shallow low risk alternative to our potential.
Believe in yourself and force your belief upon organizations that try to dilute your thoughts, do not opt for the mainstream alternatives to get acceptance, but seek eccentric ideas to stand out.
My underlying premise is that everyone is insecure at a certain level, and when they tell you no – they are as insecure as when you tell them yes to try and push your idea through.
The above is not meant to discard feedback, but to use it as a catalyst for improvement and not destruction. In my case and I believe with many others, feedback has resulted in the death or dilution of most great ideas, only to see them implemented by others with more self confidence and drive.
The world has many means to control risk and push for main-stream ideology, allowing only those with self-confidence, charisma (convincing skills), and drive to push their findings through; making them main stream for all of us to let go of our beliefs and follow.
Abstinence is always easier than confrontation, which I would say is our world’s way of separating the stars from the sheep. The sooner you paint yourself black, the faster you climb up the ladder and lead the herd.
Democracy is a deterrent to excellence, because the only thing that everyone agrees on, is the safe option that will keep us the way we are. Even though I sound as if I am endorsing the “Who moved my cheese” theory, I believe in the power of individuality and the strong positive effects of the following theories, one: trial and error, two: if it’s good it they will adopt it, and three: if you believe in it you will make it work.
We are in the world of customization and mash-ups, anything that works even if partially, will be used in part or whole to create a better bigger picture resulting in mental if not physical evolution.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Settle Down

I was thinking of my New Year’s resolution for 2008 and here is what I came up with:
- To settle down
Not settle down in terms of getting married, stopping drinking, or getting a 9 to 5 job in one country; but settle down in general. It involves giving more attention to the things I care about and less time to “pure entertainment”.
I’m writing this on because I feel that it is highly relevant for the industry. I have worked in numerous ad agencies and with many telecom operators, and all the work was geared towards “pure entertainment” i.e. what the agency enjoys doing or what the client personally likes. My advice to everyone is: Settle Down.
Settle down by becoming more focused, more tactical, and more relevant – put your efforts into telling the customers / public what they want to know, and not what you think they should see in order to decipher your message. The telecom industry is filled with jargon, technical details, and hundreds of services that very few people understand – at least the communication should make life simple. More so, mass media is dead – or should be assassinated because people are not the same and they should in no way be targeted with the same piece of communication! When operators communicate, they should focus on individual segments, it makes no sense to see a long-winded brand ad on every commercial break during a TV program or a sponsorship bumper after every program. Operators should also try to be relevant; the best ad I’ve seen is a 5-seconder pack-shot TV ad for Maybelline mascara. What was good about the ad is that it came during a movie after the main actress was putting mascara – making it extremely relevant, tactical, and focused.

My advice to all operators in MENA for 2008 is “Settle down”.Think more, spend less, focus, be tactical, be relevant.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The computer is not personal again HP!!!

Let us all be professional and use PowerPoint to make all our presentations. We also need to use guidelines and ensure consistency in font size and location across all slides. Let us also have a department dedicated to designing the PowerPoint presentations so they all look consistent.
I would beg to differ. Consistent = Monotonous.
Here is a thought, why do sports coaches use pen and white board as opposed to PDAs?
When was the last time you saw a presentation on a flip chart or received a hand written letter?
I live in Dubai where people complain because everything is “perfect” and “neat” therefore impersonal. People miss the traditional old streets and buildings that are withering away.
Think of the spontaneity and passion in drawing a line on a flaw chart with the screeching sound of the pen as opposed to the click of a mouse and the appearance of that perfect line on a digital projector.
Just to clarify I’m considered a modern day geek, I love computers, the internet, and web 2.0 – but some things have a diluted effect when trying to make a point.

The way I see it is that you can either read a book to someone or tell a story, and the moment you click that mouse its like you are picking up a book – and no matter if you memorized the story, once you hold the book you are bound to read from it as opposed to tell it like a story.

Passion is what sells in a presentation, and when you are presenting you should be the presentation not the virtual image made on the white canvas by the projector. Whereas this analogy may seems a bit far fetched, but imagine a Yoga instructor showing slides on how to do Yoga as opposed to performing it! The most motivating person referred to in corporations is a football or basketball coach and I think us “suits” should learn more from them. Computers are good but not all the time, we need to show more spontaneity, improvise more and put more action into our presentations. After all there is a reason why paintings are more expensive than photos, and drawings are worth more than Photoshop generated designs. Another great example is black boards used by teachers, imagine class being taught over a PowerPoint (which is done in some cases).

My advice would be: when you have a meeting, think of how your performance can differentiate your presence in the room from an email, phone call, or even video conference.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The attention currency

Who does the money for advertising go to?
Traditionally advertising was intended to subsidize media. TV ads came about as a means for free to air channels to exist; they were sponsors of the TV medium. Similarly; press ads allow free or cheap publications, radio ads allow free radio channels or music, outdoor ads on highways allow toll-free roads, online ads allow free access to internet sites, and sponsorships make it affordable for us to watch live concerts in expensive venues by performs who earn more than the cumulative cost of all the attendees ticket costs.
This works, because as a customer you would accept someone force-feeding you advertisements in exchange for a free experience or a discount at least.

Advertising is considered a secure source of income, this is because it is a diversified investment from many industries (FMCG, Technology, Hardware, etc.) – and it is powerful to the extent that it can support an entire medium over generations, think of TV, newspapers and radio.

Something went wrong during this process as some people started becoming greedy.

Why does the municipality take the money for ads that target you on a highway, even when you pay a fair toll to get on it, and enough taxes to build roads? Or why do you have to see ads on airplanes when you clearly pay a lot of the money for airfare? Why are we forced to watch ads in taxis when we clearly pay the full fair? Why are we given branded boarding passes to planes that we pay for?

I presume this is because you the consumer are being sold. If you walk into a pharmacy, this pharmacy owns your attention and will then sell it to ‘dietary supplement’ brands and the like in the form of shelf talkers and display stands.

In these cases, entity X is taking money from an advertiser to get the share of attention that you may have innocently given to X. I would personally much rather get that money myself! To put it simply if my attention is worth $0.5, why should the pharmacy get that money instead of me? Will advertisers eventually develop their own media in which you view an ad and get a dollar?

In summary, it pays to be popular (literally), and the next time you say “now you have my attention” you should prepare an invoice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Important figures about Facebook & Microsoft

- Facebook shows an estimated $150 million in revenue

- Facebook has recently been valued at $15 billion

- 24-year-old Mark Zuckerberg is now worth between 3 and 5 billion dollars

- Facebook has 50 million users today

- FaceBook’s revenue model today rests on banner ads and $1 virtual gifts.

- Microsoft was willing to pay $240 million for a 1.6 percent slice of Facebook

- Microsoft wanted to block Google from horning in on its advertising relationship with Facebook.

- Facebook is Microsoft’s largest advertising partner.

- Microsoft -- CEO Steve Ballmer has publicly boasted that
online advertising will be 25 percent of Microsoft's revenue within a few years -- it's currently a big disappointment, and is the only major division of Microsoft that's losing money

- Online Services Business, which encompasses online advertising, Live Search, MSN Messenger and Hotmail, among other things, showed a net loss of $262 million in the company's most recent quarter. Its revenues, $671 million, represented just 5 percent of the company's quarterly total.

All this information is available on wired

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Important Blogging Statistics

Here are a few statistics about blogging from the blog world expo taking place on November 8-9 in the Las Vegas convention center

- Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
- More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
- Over 57 million Americns read blogs.
- 1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog.
- 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
- 9% of internet users say

they have created blogs .
- 6% of the entire US adult population
has created a blog .
- Technorati is currently tracking over
70 million blogs .
- over 120 thousand blogs are
created every day .
- There are over 1.4 million new blog posts
every day .
- 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world
are blogs .
- 120,000 new blogs are
created every day .
- 37% of blog readers
began reading blogs in 2005 or 2006 .
- 51% of blog readers
shop online .
- Blog readers average
23 hours online each week .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Virtual Reality (yeah right!)

We have been using the term virtual reality for a very long time, ever since the digital world existed, however with all our advances in the virtual world, very little was used to change / update our understanding of this term.
Here is the WikiPedia definition:
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment, be it a real or imagined one. Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or through special stereoscopic displays, but some simulations include additional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones.

Is the best way we can link the digital world to reality through images, and movement? What about the virtual world interacting with the real one in terms of experiences?

Why can’t we buy real life stuff on second life, interact with brands on FaceBook (no I don’t mean web banners), or follow the progress of something real on twitter (other than our friends).

I am writing this article because I think there is a lot of potential on doing real things as netizens.

There has been several attempts to make people share their every minute thoughts and needs with everyone online or via SMS namely Blogger, FaceBook, Twitter, hi5, and ASW. All of these applications offer you a place to mention and constantly update your status, mood or needs. The issue with these programs is that they only link you to your friends (or friends or friends), but not those directly around you, and in many cases not to the people or items that you are looking for.

There is no conclusion behind this article.
Actually there is one that I would like to use as a premise to set up a company in the future.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Face Recognition for the lazy bastards

I bought a Sony camera a few weeks ago; one of the main reasons I chose Sony was because the camera had "face recognition" which allows the camera to recognize the people's faces in the frame and ensure that they are in focus. I thought this was a very handy feature in addition to "image stabilization", and the conventional "automatic flash" would allow my parents (whom I was buying the camera for) to take perfect photos under any circumstances, all they have to do is say "say cheese". But apparently not anymore, I just came across this article in the Economist:

Now face-recognition technology is getting even smarter. Next week, Sony is due to launch a digital camera that can be set so it won’t release the shutter until people in the picture are smiling. The software analyses the scene for facial expressions associated with happiness—including the upturn of the corners of the mouth, the separation of the lips, and the wrinkle of the eyes. You can designate which of up to eight people in the viewfinder to focus on, and select three different facial expressions: smile, grin or laugh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Again, my affinity with wired is dictating my blog content. The below web2.0-influenced coined terms are sample content from Wired’s Geekipedia. All rights reserved.
I think they are a phenomenal representation of the latest trends and people’s adoption of them. You can vote for entries submitted by other readers on Geekipedia

E-tard by Mike Smith
Someone, who despite repeat education on technology, are incapable of using it. Thus, Retarding (means to set back) the person even more as new technology comes out. These are the people who should be never allowed to us a computer; for all they will bring is headaches to those around them.

pry-vacy by TC

The "right" of your; boss, spouse, federal government to look at anything on your computer or cell phone. Warrant not included or necessary

Warcraftofile by Mike
Its what happens when girls in RL can't excite an otherwise healthy male who plays Warcraft.
When only jumping LVL12 druids can get the juices flowing.

Machinima by Paul Marino
A fusion of cinema, animation and video games, Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) is the application of live-action filmmaking practices within a real-time 3D virtual environment - most often done using 3D video games.
Notable examples include Red vs. Blue (made using the Halo, Halo 2 and Halo 3), Person 2184 (Unreal Tournament 2004) and My Second Life (obviously, Second Life).

Wi-Five by Staphyl
The act of giving someone a high five without actually touching them, such as from across the room. Very useful if you cannot give physical contact, but would very much like to express your admiration or respect.

Blogologist by Jean Poulot
First recorded by Jean Poulot, September 19 2007 in Wired Geekipedia.
From blog, shorten form of weblog, from web and log, and logist, specialist.
An inarticulate person who has a strong opinion on things he or she does not know, who cannot spell or use punctuation properly, yet poses as an expert.
Synonym: One who rants, a wannabe, an alias user.
Antonym: An authority. Someone who does not respond to blog ranting.

Picnic by Dave
When responding to a desktop assistance help call the problem is simply user error and easily fixed. "P"roblem "i"n "c"hair "n"ot "i"n "c"omputer. "PICNIC" Thus it is as easy as going to a picnic.

mult-y-tasker by myerman
The uncanny ability of generation y workers to play WoW, IM their friends, listen to their iPod, write a report for the big client, and do none of those things well.

Monday, September 17, 2007

2014 as predicted by the Museum of Modern History

I don't feel I can comment on this, but believe that everyone should see it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0

This post has been plagiarized from Stephanie the Web 2.0 guru.

The Japanese agency IA has released the 2007 version of the web trends:"The 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective. The original raster (the Tokyo metro map) has been substantially modified to fit the needs of an Internet Trend Map."LOVE IT!It just made me happy to see all my favorite sites gathered in one big funky map that makes sense (I'm such a web junky).Have a closer look at the map here.(the screen saver is really cool, but it's only available for Mac users)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The telecom (re)branding lifecycle - Part III

This is part III of the article, please read Part I and PartII before:

Ad Agency: We need to prioritize the deliverables as they are unachievable by your launch date.
Some priorities are given but eventually the priority changes on a daily bases and many items are added to the list on a daily basis as the marcoms team find random stuff that need branding (from sugar sachets to the vouchers in the queuing machine)
Ad Agency: Here is the launch campaign we propose.
CEO: I do not like this campaign; I need something more grandiose that makes people cry and gives goose bumps.
Ad Agency: We need to talk to the customer on their level, we need to be their friends – our communication should not be very grand and give off the feeling that we are talking to them from our ivory tower, hence implying that we are unapproachable.
CEO: We have investors paying millions of dollars and they do not want friends, they want to see their accomplishments, you can do those friendly campaigns when launching products and services.
Ad agency: We do not recommend going with the selling line proposed by the CI agency as it does not make sense, and they are not the experts in this domain – here are a few proposals.
Marcoms (to agency): We need more options.
Marketing (to marcoms): We still need more options.
CEO (to everyone): I still need even more options, I want everyone to contribute to this process and involve all the staff.
After the final list and options are received no one likes any of the selling lines, and they decide to compromise by going with the one that they least hate.
Marketing: Let us have a big promotion for the launch, maybe buy a line and get XXX free credit in order to give the customer some benefit.
Ad Agency: NO! we cannot launch a new brand with a promotion it would cheapen the brand, and make the brand name seem week, we do not want to directly associate it with price reduction. If we are to launch with anything it should be a strong value proposition that is applied across the entire operation of the services.
A major debate across all the operations is held, and the CEO finally takes a decision on the launch promotion.
Marketing: We need to develop the campaigns for the products and services in line with the launch campaign.
Ad Agency: Here are the product and services ads.
Marketing: But these do not follow the same theme as the brand launch campaign.
Ad Agency: They cannot follow the same concept in the brand campaign in all ads especially since the campaign was too grandiose.
Marketing / Marcom: Then we need to develop a value proposition for our brand.
After many exercises to develop a value proposition going back and forth, they settle on a generic value proposition that has a very wide umbrella to fit all communications, along the lines of “better services” or “better prices” or “get more” or “live our brand”

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The telecom (re)branding lifecycle - Part II

This is part II of the article, please read Part I before:

Marcom: It is a very good we will give you the guidelines and you will need to develop all of the communication material. You need to become the brand guardians.
CI Agency: We need to remain the brand guardians and approve all of the work done by the agency.
Marcom (to CEO): We need to extend the contract of the CI agency beyond the logo development. As we need them to develop more collateral and ensure a smooth process. But we will ensure that everything is done according to guidelines
Marcom (to CI agency): You will be the brand guardians and we will send you all artworks to approve
Marcom (to Ad Agency): You need to be the brand guardians and ensure that everything is done according to guidelines
Marcom (to consultants): We need you to be the brand guardians and ensure that everything is done according to guidelines
The ad agency develops the first piece of communication according to guidelines, usually a very minor item i.e. application form
Marcom: No this is not according to guidelines we will send it to the CI agency to check
Consultants: This can work but please send it to the CI agency
CI Agency: No this is not according to guidelines
Ad Agency: The guidelines don’t specify anything about application forms, and this design fits everything proposed in the guidelines booklet
Marcom (to CI Agency): Can you please design the application forms for us
CI Agency: Sure, we will help you out with this. We will also amend the guidelines to include application forms
Ad Agency: Please we need a list of all the items that you need to (re) brand so that we assign the correct resources and give you a timelineMarcom (to Ad Agency): We have developed the attached list of deliverables here it is:

... to be continued

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The telecom (re)branding lifecycle - Part I

Here is a short script of a (stereo)typical telecom (re)branding lifecycle.

CEO: We need a strong human, emotional, and aspirational brand similar to Orange
Consultant: You need to build a monolithic brand to avoid having many sub brands which will be expensive to maintain and difficult to communicate with the blurring of boundaries that will result from convergence in the near future.
Marcom: But we have a lot of brand equity for our existing brand and sub-brands. Our prepaid name is very common in the market and people love it.
CEO: We will spend a lot of money on our launch campaign and will build strong equity very quickly.
Marketing: We cannot spend this much money on brand communications we have targets to achieve and we need to sell a lot of products. We should focus our budget on product communications and promotions, otherwise our competition will launch many offers and our customers will churn. Customers don’t care about the brand they are price sensitive and will go with the cheapest rates.
Consultants: We need to think long term, cutting prices in the short term would only get us un-loyal customers that will churn the next day, we need to have a long term vision and build a brand that would captures the heart and not only the pocket of customers.
CEO: I totally agree, change is the only constant, and now is the right time to do this. This decision is final.
Marketing: Yes Sir.
Marcoms: Yes Sir.
Consultants (internally): We do not have any experience in advertising, we need to recruit a few branding specialists from other local telco’s / ad agencies.
Marcoms (to advertising agency): We have a very large project, this is a test for you as an agency, if you do not do a good job we need to re-pitch. We need to build a very strong brand that stands out amongst all teclos in the regions (this is the brief).
The agency presents many logos that are not liked by the operator without any explanation
CEO: I do not like this agency, they do not have any telecom experience, “I can develop a better logo myself”
Marketing: I never liked this agency, it is there fault we are not meeting our targets, if it wasn’t for them we could have doubled our revenues this year
Marcoms (to Agency): Your contract is on the line here, you have made me look bad in front of management, your work is un acceptable
Ad Agency: It is not the job of an ad agency to develop a logo, you need to go to a corporate identity agency
Consultants (internally): This is true, we should have known this. Who did the corporate identity of the big telcos we need to recommend this.
Consultants (to telco): We recommend you give this job to a specialized CI agency. There are several good ones in London that have developed the biggest brand like BT, O2, Vodafone etc.
CEO: This is worth spending money on, we need to hire a CI agency from London, I want the best brand for this company.
CI Agency: We have developed one option only and think this is very good. It is the best logo we have made and it fits very well with the Middle East market, even though it does not include Arabic. Here is a 30 page rationale.
CEO: I love it, these people really know what they are talking about
Marketing: We love it!
Marcom: We love it!
Ad Agency: We HATE it!

… continued here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Advertising 2.0

Advertising 2.0 is a consolidated hybrid of the following:
  1. Traditional advertising agencies
  2. Media Agencies
  3. Web development agencies
  4. CRM agencies
  5. Geeks

Similar to web 2.0, advertising 2.0 will also be heavily dependant on social networking. There will also be a ‘media neutrality’ debate similar to that of ‘network neutrality’ (whereby the internet is considered as a utility similar to electricity as far as ISPs are concerned). Should brands be consistent based on one media neutral execution; or should they let go and allow multiple messages, each consistent with its respective medium and relevant to the overall campaign objective?

Advertising 2.0 will give rise to a new breed of ‘creative geeks’ capable of working on TV ads, online communication, as well as offline print material and direct mailers. Copywriting will also need to converge with art direction. Eventually, the suits or client servicing people, who merely act as intelligent secretaries, will gradually be swept aside and replaced by strategic planners who may either be based within the advertising agency or even on the client side.

Moreover, advertising agencies will start to develop their own R&D departments to create new ideas that are beyond ads, creating fake brands for testing when brand equity for existing brands is too valuable.

Enter social networking. A communication agency needs to be more like a Wikipedia, whereby teams across all disciplines can add their input or understanding of different ideas and where each team has their My Space to share their knowledge, portfolios, or concepts in development.

Advertising 2.0 should be more focused on CRM and personalized communications, especially since web 2.0 is allowing for more individuality - making it much easier to track specific lifestyle patterns. This would allow television ads to be personalized to the extent of using footage you relate to: mentioning your name; using you as the main actor/hero. Online text can also change automatically, depending on electronic detection of your reading habits.

User generated content will become more and more subsidized through advertising. This will blur the boundaries between advertisements and real content, as well as the overspill on all media from water bottles to projection on the water flushing down your toilet.

Typically, advertising will become more interactive and calls to action on ads would become indirect sales channels (i.e. in line with the toilet flush media you will hear: “flush twice to order this product”). As this happens, feedback will become immediate, enabling marketers to target ads more effectively and evolve the same ads almost instantaneously.

Ads will become more discreet and become imbedded within consumers’ everyday life interactions, possibly having the Verizon logo on the Colgate tooth-paste (the actual paste and not the tube). The media landscape would also grow exponentially to include the branding of entire websites and potentially thematic content as opposed to lonely banners in confined places.

Advertising will become a much more intricate process for any company involving customers in the process of product development – from business plan idea to testing, development, distribution, and advertising – this will become more and more feasible with the increasing sharing capabilities of web 2.0.