Breaking through Digital
Over the last two years we’ve heard a lot about “Digital” within the advertising and marketing community. BM’s, ABM’s and BBM’s are all talking about what to do with digital media.
If you look over the online marketing landscape in Pakistan you’ll find many brands who have at least some sort of “presence” – I use the term “presence” very loosely as in most cases that’s truly all it is, just a couple of pages online that haven’t been updated in about three months.
BUT this article is NOT about the problems that exist within digital media or a lack of understanding of the medium across the marketing and advertising industry; like anything new it’s going to have teething problems, but they’ll get worked out soon enough. This article is about the absolutely MASSIVE POTENTIAL that digital media has in a country as big as ours!
First off for those of you who don’t spend your lives plugged into a computer at all times, digital media means, wait for it, THE INTERNET! Just kidding, sort of…
When we talk about digital media we are talking about a spread of tools such as, the Internet (not kidding this time), SMS, MMS, IVR (You know that robot lady on the phone who keeps telling you that the account number you entered is invalid) and mobile phones.
The latter is probably the most appealing for marketers and currently has the widest reach; everyone has a mobile phone, it’s now a mater of how to get your message across to that device.
Before we get started on what you can actually do we should go over some statistics. Let’s talk about how many Internet users we have, please remember when we talk about users we mean anyone who has access to the internet either at work or at home or by stealing their neighbors wifi connection – we are not talking about the number of connections!
According to the CIA’s world fact book we have just over 20 million Internet users and according to the World Bank we had 18.5 million Internet users in 2009. Local research presented by several local research agencies puts the figure somewhere between five and six million.
As you will notice there is a gross discrepancy between those figures and I firmly believe that we are somewhere in the middle of those two. Why? Because of Facebook!
Anyone who has a Facebook account has the ability to use Facebook’s marketplace advertising engine, that’s why the ad platform is so successful – it’s the most accessible ad platform in the world! Now if you go into the engine and select “Pakistan” as your target country it will display the estimated reach for your ads, this figure is about 4.5 million. If we truly had 5 million users that would mean that Facebook would have a penetration of 90% of all Internet users in Pakistan! Even for Facebook that’s highly unlikely!
Now if we look at 20 million users it would mean that roughly 11.5% of the entire country has access to the Internet, although I would like to believe that, it is also unlikely.
We could estimate anywhere between 12 million and 15 million people in Pakistan have access to the Internet. This number is only going to increase, so if you don’t side with me on my estimate, just wait a year or so and we’ll get there, how do we know we’ll get there? Because the cost of connectivity is becoming cheaper and cheaper by the day. You can get a Wi-MAX connection for Rs.650 per month or use unlimited Internet on your mobile phone for Rs.400 per month, that’s cheaper than getting a large pizza once a month or driving from the airport to the FTC in Karachi! Suffice to say Internet is cheap and it’s going to grow!
When you think digital think digital 360, most Internet users will follow a trail of platforms if you give them enough reason to. Make sure that you incorporate a mix of social media, websites, SMS and even IVR to keep people hooked and engaged. You must remember that digital media is a 2-way conversation. Allow people to comment on your content, create content and give them a chance to be heard. Most people are satisfied just to know that brands are actually listening to them.
For example if you create a campaign make sure that you don’t just ask a web development firm to build you a website and then expect millions of hits just because your website is there. You have to work for traffic and the key to traffic is a mix of good content, engagement and advertising. If you setup a set of social media platforms make sure that they are supported by a brand website; somewhere to keep people engaged in the long run, somewhere where people can come for more information. There are tons of ways whereby you can capitalize on the traffic you get on a larger platform by sending visitors from there to where you need some extra traffic. An example would be to announce a sale on your Facebook page with 150,000 fans and ask them to go and printout the coupon located on the front page of your website to get an extra 10%. Traffic can flow any way you want it to, provided you have something to entice visitors with.
How do you entice people? Competitions are one way, but they are short-term traffic drivers, a good way to get things rolling, but to keep people engaged you need to make your platforms useful and informative. A great way to do that is by creating custom content; this can be anything from creating your own blog (groan, I know you hear that all the time, but you have to do it right for it to actually work) to having your own TV show which you only show online! Imagine that! Be sure to include useful information about your products and services and give consumers the tools they need to make purchase decisions right there on your website; pages of text and stock photography are boring – remember when you create a campaign online you’re competing with every digital campaign that has ever been done, the Internet is wide open and people know what other brands in other markets are doing.
Great right? There’s a whole bunch of things you can play with online, that’s great if your product or service was only sold online! The real trick is to use digital to create engagement and action in the real world, to get consumers to buy your products and use your services! So when you think digital 360 don’t only think digital.
Truth be told, digital media is just another medium, the dynamics and mechanics of that medium are different, but it is another medium to add to your communication mix and it should be treated that way. Make digital a part of your ATL campaigns right from the start, build it in as an integral part of your message and call to action. Do the same on digital by pushing people of to traditional media and BTL activities.
Let’s talk short-term for a minute, imagine if you had a competition that revolved around ATL, BTL and digital – true 360 engagement and communication.
Your competition would require people to interact with print, television, outdoor, radio, and digital media. Here’s how it would flow. You see a TVC with a web address on it, it leads you to watch a piece of custom content which directs you to an address where you find a billboard with a QR code on it, you scan the code and it gives you a password, you enter the password into the brand website and it tells you to look for a picture in next Sunday’s print communication; and we can go on and on…
The idea is not what the mechanics or the prize of this integrated campaign would be, but it’s the practice of adding digital media into your communication mix and understanding that if you don’t have a digital backbone now, you’re going to get left behind by all of the smaller brands who are using digital to a much greater extent and reaping the benefits.
Digital in Pakistan is there for the taking and there’s no shortage of ideas or space for everyone!