By Rai M Azlan
The premier digital marketing conference of Pakistan DigiMark 2014 was held on October 14, 2014 at the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club , Lahore.
Participants of the event included key leaders of the industry, marketing and branding professionals, and students from Lahore’s leading educational institutions. The day-long event covered different aspects of digital marketing to address the theme of “Digital Takeover.” DigiMark 2014 is the third digital marketing conference organized by Training, Events,Consultancy (TEC) TEC in Lahore.
The event was held in collaboration with China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak) Zong, Pakistan Software Export Board Nestle, Commtel Digital , Mobilink Business, Strategic Alliancez . Jang Media Group was the official media partner, ProPakistani was blog partner, and ReBrand was publishing partner for DigiMark 2014, Also supporting the event were Fabi studios as production partner , NetMAG as magazine partner and McAfee, Rozee.pk
The first session started with Mr. Fouad Bajwa, Public Policy Analyst (Internet & ICT). Bajwa talking about Envisioning Digital Marketing in Pakistan. The talk provided an overview of the opportunities for digital marketing in Pakistan. Pointing out untapped areas where digital marketing can play a major role, Bajwa said, “Only 11% Pakistanis use the internet, but on the brighter side there is a huge market in terms of remaining 89% that can be accessed, tapped, and utilised. “ He added that “this 11% is not a small number as it is more than the total population of many western countries, so the market size it still very robust”
The second speaker was Monis Rahman, Chief Exceutive Officer of Naseeb Networks, who delivered the keynote address on Online Pakistan: Coming of Age. Giving the latest statistics, he talked about how 3G and high speed broadband can boost e-business, electronic payment solutions, and create new digital marketing and business opportunities in Pakistan. Rahman said, “In Pakistan you can buy an Android smartphone for around Rs.4,000 almost U.S. $38. This means that in the coming one year, even persons from a low income bracket will be using smart phone with 3G. This is a bright sign — not just for the mobile phone and telecom market but also for entire digital marketing arena.”
The first session ended with Obaid Saleem, Director Strategy, China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak), Zong. Obaid talking about how businesses immediately employ 3G and 4G. He said, “Since 2005 we have progressed significantly but with high-speed 3G and 4G LTE the growth in proliferation of Digital services will catapult.” While presenting future plans of Zong, Obaid said, “With 3G-4G auction in 2014, Zong has become the most technologically advanced operator in Pakistan. It has launched 4G as well as Super 3G, which is double the speed of ordinary 3G. Zong is planning to complete 4,000 3G sites mark by December 2014 to enhance its broadband coverage.” Obaid also revealed that Zong is the only mobile operator in Pakistan that is launching its own smartphone at an affordable price.
Obaid Saleem also mentioned the significance of upcoming digital platforms and how mobile operators can target potential areas such as video calling, mobile broadband, location based services, surveillance and live traffic monitoring, and of course emails and office tools. Obaid said, “There are potential upcoming digital services in collaboration with developer and business communities focusing several industries such as advertising, HORECA, FMCG, transportation, health and education, geo-disposed companies, government, and law-enforcement agencies.”
The second session started after a tea and networking break. Ehtisham Rao, Director Marketing B2B, Mobilink was the first speaker of the session. He discussed how businesses can leverage of digital marketing and analytics for business-to-business (B2B) growth. Rao’s talk was focused towards the B2B aspect and how its operations in the digital marketing sphere should be different than the business-to-consumer line.
Rao said, “It is time that strategic firms in digital media consider paid media, owned properties, and Earned Media. If you want to set up a B2B business, realize that the world has gone into converged media. When selling to businesses, you have to decide what to do – you have to kill the marketing clutter. Today businesses are so obsessed with generating leads that they miss out on amplification.”
Ehtisham Rao took the audience on a guided tour of how B2B marketing can benefit from the evolving digital media.“This is not an one-agency thing – the world has strictly moved to integrated and specialized communication. Today, you need to define the kind of engagement, the level and the platform for communication”
The second session was followed by a panel discussion on Customer Service and Brand Loyalty in the Digital Age moderated by Furqan Mehmood, Customer Service Trainer, VP ExecuTrainings International, Asia Pacific. Panellists included Omair Bangash, CEO, Tossdown.com, Maha Khalid, Group Brand Manager Bareeze, and Mudassar Ajmal, Head of Digital Advertising, Bata Pakistan. The panel unanimou0sly agreed that in this age of real-time feedback, organizations must be active and present on the digital front to respond to consumers in a timely manner. The panellists were of the view that negative reviews or critical comments provide an opportunity to test one’s skill to turn the situation around through efficient customer service and quick response.
In his talk, Peter Lucas, Director Online & OOH Solutions, Jang Media Group gave a Publisher’s Perspective about the Digital Landscape of Pakistan. This was followed by a case study on Branding in the Post-Digital World by Bassam Qureshi, Brand Manager (Pakistan & Afghanistan region), The Coca Cola Company.
The third and final session of DigiMark 2014 started with a case study on Maintaining Brand Reputation Before Crisis Hits by Zeeshan Suhail, Manager Public Affairs, Nestle followed by a talk on User Engagement Process Gamification Touseef Ikram, Head of Technology, Digital Media Assets, Geo / Jang Media Group, in which he emphasis how this emerging trend can increase brands digital media presence by demonstrating it with examples.
The second panel discussion of the event was on Minimizing Expenses with Digital Media to Improve Return on Investments (ROI) , moderated by Usman Latif, Founder & Lead Consultant , Digital Marketing Pakistan™. Panellists included Salman Mazhar, Head of Marketing, Wateen, Khurram Amin, Director, Business & Strategy, Commtel Digital, and Abdullah Gardezi, Manager Digital Marketing, Stylo Group. Answering a question, Salman Mazhar said, “Even in this day and age ROI is important. It is no more an outdated concept and in fact it is easy to calculate and forecast now today on digital marketing side. And today we have different forms of ROIs: for some it is Likes, for a few it is lead generation, and for others it is the conventional revenue.”
Muaz Raja, Chief Strategy Officer, Strategic Alliancez gave a talk on the topic of Social Media is Beyond Likes/ RTs. The talk focussed on the practical aspect of social media in terms of its power and utilization in our daily lives. He gave examples of social media activism trends such as the Arab Spring where social media played a vital role when the conventional media was under strict government restrictions, the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign, Save Gaza, Ice bucket challenge, and Pakistan’s very own #GoNawazGo campaign.
Raja said, “Today 38% of the consumers search brands on social media as their prime information search medium, 90% of the apps we use or download are social media apps, social media marketing is 100 times cost-effective as compared to direct publisher.” Sharing an interesting fact about a leading brand in Pakistan, he said, “Among the top ten Pakistani brands, seven haven’t updated their website in a while, six don’t have a website but only have an active social media presence, however five of them only have presence on Facebook.”
Abid Ali, Country Head Pakistan, McAfee talked about How Companies can Secure Their Data Digitally. Abid said, “Ironically many of us don’t even know what to do when our Facebook pictures and other information is compromised. We need to learn and understand cybercrime and cyber security laws because the kind of privacy we talk about is a 20th century concept. We need to realise that our content is our asset and like any asset, that needs to be secured too.”
The last talk of the evening was “Evaluate Your Digital Marketing Performance” by Azm Dar, Growth Hacker, KickStoro. Azm used the examples of KickStoro, his very own startup, which raised almost Rs.70 Lacs in Accelerace, a Denmark Acclerator , to explain the performance measurement touchstones for social media. “Customer acquisition cost and churn are the factors we need to measure, and Mixpanel and Heap analytics are the prime tools for that purpose.”
DigiMark 2014 concluded with a panel discussion on the role of digital media in retail branding moderated by Abdul Aziz, CEO, Lumensoft Technologies. The panel for the discussion included Ahmed Khan, MD Asia, Rocket Internet, GmbH, Co-Founder Kaymu.pk, Mansoor Nawaz, COO, Mausummery, Idrees Butt, COO SMS All. Responding to a question , Ahmed Khan said, “Pakistan’s economy as a whole has started to espouse digital platforms as a feasible passage to promote their businesses. While our e-commerce industry is still lagging behind compared to other nations in the region, the advent of 3G and 4G service has accelerated the growth route.”
Despite being held on a week day, during work hours, the event held the interest of the 300-plus participants who remained engaged in the discussions through the lively question and answer sessions throughout. The event also provided a networking opportunity to professionals and students alike.
DigiMark 2014 also provided a platform to the titans of Pakistan’s digital arena to share their views on this rising industry.
Zain Majid ,Vice President Marketing, TEC, said, “Our aim with DigiMark and other conferences has always been to design sessions and discussions that can be helpful for the attendees so that they can apply them. For instance, in the case of digital marketing they find out new ways to develop their audience and build traffic, create brand awareness, improve customer service, and develop better use of digital tools in order to get productive business outcomes.”
Talking about the successful event, Iftikhar Hussain Vice President Business & Strategy, TEC said,, “We are truly thankful to Almighty Allah who helped us and our team from the preparations up till the successful execution of this event. The number of attendees from different sectors of the business fraternity of not just Lahore but from other cities too shows that there is an interest towards this relatively new tool of marketing and everyone wants to know more about it and its utility with respect to building customer loyalty, increasing sales, improving lead generation, or driving greater consumer engagement.”
He added, “I have seen many students among the attendees today , which is a sign that they are trying to learn and understand this aspect of the business at quite an early stage of their higher education. This will surely be helpful for them as individuals and the business fraternity as a whole.