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
R/GA?

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