Marketing 2.0: Traditional & Digital to join hands

Dig-it 2.0 2013 Recap

If there was one key takeaway from the two-day Digital Marketing Conference organized by Pakistan Advertisers Society, Dig-it 2.0 2013, it was that marketing professionals in Pakistan need to evolve themselves and all marketing initiatives needs to change themselves and bring digital brand planning right in the center of all brand communications.

Karachi played host to international experts from Denmark, Turkey, Saudi Arabia. UAE & Singapore, as well as local thought leaders – who shared case studies, latest ideas and research studies with the over 200 Pakistani marketing and advertising professionals attending Dig-it 2.0.

Marketers Need to Change Mindset 

James McClure, Head of Emerging Markets, Google South East Asia highlighted that there were immense digital marketing opportunities in Pakistan – and marketing professionals need to change their mindset towards digital to unlock its true potential.

McClure further highlighted that brand and advertising professionals need to look at online marketing together with rest of the marketing plan – and not separately – as today’s consumer is a connected consumer who is both online and offline at the same time.

He gave an example of a cricket match that is going on in the stadium, but people are watching it on their TV, tweeting about it, updating their Facebook statuses and going on Google to search details of the players/teams!

From a brand planning perspective, Salman Abedin, Consultant & Trainer from Pakistan, stressed that brand strategists need to shift their focus from keeping television as the central focus and make digital the epicenter of all communication plans and brand centric conversations.

With digital at the center of all communication plans – the brand ends up creating a singular point of contact and conversation with their audience. Information, product experience, purchase and post purchase all are online now. – Salman Abedin

With digital at the center of all communication plans – the brand ends up creating a singular point of contact and conversation with their audience. Information, product experience, purchase and post purchase all are online now – Salman Abiden


Reaching millions with Urdu Internet

Pakistan & Urdu Dr. Sarmad Hussain, Professor and Head, Center for Language Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan highlighted the most important issue restricting digital growth in Pakistan – lack of a Urdu interface. He pointed out that digital interfaces and brand communications need to be localized to cater to 68% of the population of Pakistan coming from rural areas.

Dr. Hussain further presented the solutions that he and his team have prepared to help publishers and developers to localize their digital marketing content and reach a wider Urdu-speaking audience.

At present digital platforms are the ‘step child’ said Fazal Ashfaq, CEO, B Solutions, who presented a study his organisation had conducted on Digital Advertising Spend in Pakistan.

Majority of advertising spend is to reach a very small percentage of English-speaking audience in Pakistan – and the brands ‘thinking digital’ need to rethink their strategy, focus on localizing their communications to Urdu so that they can reach a larger customer base and gain a higher value for their advertising spend.

Google also has created some great Urdu tools, such as Urdu Search, Google Translate in Urdu, Online Urdu Keyboard, Urdu Transliteration & Gmail Urdu input and interface – which were presented by Badar Khushnood, Country Representative for Google in Pakistan.


Mobile for Digital Brand Communications

Mobile phones are about to cross the numbers of the Human Population – that’s how pervasive technology is becoming – and the situation in Pakistan is no different!!

Mobile in Pakistan

Mobile is key to Internet of things, said Syed Abdul Karim, Brand Experience Director, Mobily, Saudi Arabia and there is a need to understand the device and how people connect with it, to ensure that the variety of content we create works.

In today’s fast paced life people want everything to happen right away in the moment of now – be it self-expression or instant gratification – and that is only possible on mobile.

How the platform of mobile can be effectively used for marketing was extensively covered in a syndicated session at Dig-it 2.0 by Herald Reedtz, House of Relations, Denmark with case studies and examples from Europe on building content for mobile, using mobile based games and applications, as well as monetizing on mobile.

Mobile as an enabler uses three platforms – voice, SMS and WAP – and in an emerging and technologically nascent market like Pakistan’s this is the easiest and simplest digital platform for brands to reach a wide audience number.

Qazi Fakhir, CEO, Converge Technologies, Pakistan highlighted how brand and advertising professionals can create buzz with successful push and pull strategies on mobile in Pakistan in multiple product types targeting different market segments. Mobile will amplify digital to the next level in Pakistan, he concluded.


Brand Advocates and Using Social Media

Brand Advocacy is increasingly becoming a hot topic of marketing conversations and Dig-it 2.0 had multiple conversations touching on the subject. For definition purposes, the below most simple explains what a brand advocate is:

“A Brand Advocate is a highly-satisfied individual who recommends their favorite brands and products without being paid to do so.” Zuberance, Brand advocacy experts

The speakers at Dig-it 2.0 repeatedly said that social media platforms (like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn) have an immense amount of content that is being created by users everyday – and the key for marketers as per Richard McBeath, Regional Director, Digital, Proximity, is finding the Brand Advocates (aka influencers) in this lot of content creators and let them spread the word.

It’s not just social media, its marketing in a social world, said Eleni Kitra, Agency-Client Partner, Facebook, MENA & Pakistan – and brands in Pakistan on ‪Social Media should understand their audience & tailor campaigns accordingly.

Consumers would be everywhere, but brands would need to define digital platforms according to their needs and target audience.

Other topics covered in the two-day conference included digital and social media analytical tools available to measure campaigns and audience, online retailing startups working in Pakistan and how brands should be planning in a digital age.


Article originally printed in Business Recorder on Nov 11. Online version can be read here.

About Samra Muslim


  1. Samra, there is no doubt that you are indeed an accomplished accademic in this umbrella of actvities related to marketing. But in none of your writings have you substanciated any working practices. All i read are theorised opinions taken from the developed world. Monkey see monkey do, as one of your readers pointed out.

    You talk about new media but, please indulge me in one strategy for any one of your previous clients and then tell me implementable, practical and cost effective practices that substantiates or bridges that theory/strategy into practice/value.

    Every one and i do mean EVERY ONE in marketing and advertising is a wanna be. You all want some thing and want to become something which is far fetched and frankly and ridiculous exisitence in the real world. Offcourse we live in a bubble in Pakistan. And in that bubble any thing is possible . Be grounded understand your traditions, we are unique and we have a lot to offer the world. Be comfortable in your skin.

    Ill give you an example, to simply put my money where my mouth is. For shezad roy’s charity Zindagi trust. How will you direct investment and donations in 12hrs towards Zindagi trust, using new media, social media and TV. And I shall point out that I am referring to a handsome amount and a fulfilling campaign which can actually make an impact and progress the trust to new heights. You guys cant even come up with a scedule of decent programming on one channel and you are talking about original content on social and new media. Hilarious !

    Bottom line you all are academics, so called brilliant consultants but in my decade of working in this industry I have probably come across 10 campaigns or people who have the answers which cater to our speciifc questions not in general.

    In marketing one activity should lead to another. One revenue source should generate multiple. And please you guys. Indirect Marketing and direct advertising.Also my rant may be above and over your understanding, so please do get back to me if you want me to elaborate.

    Again my apologies but its really getting old and repetitive and routine. fed up. :)
    Stop recomending new things, go ahead and actually put it to practice.

  2. great thought i love to read it so nice .

  3. Thanks for sharing Samra. It’s interesting that these ideas are as relevant to me in Canada as they are to you in Pakistan.

    I always think of building a brand strategy from the bottom up. Meaning I start the communication strategy thinking about the platform with the widest appeal and most functionality. Mobile friendly, Digital blogs / sites that can convert are usually the answer. Then I think of building a digital archive of proof to support the brand promise ie. social objects. Then I think about the platforms that the desired market uses where I can amplify the proof and push people into the funnel which is built to pull them in.

  4. Good piece – couldn’t attend the event but this is a good wrap-up of what went down!

  5. Yasmin Malik says:

    I was glad to see that Digit focused more on local digital initiatives this year. It is really important to highlight the potential and shortcomings of Pakistan’s digital economy and to share local data and statistics and above all, success stories in digital. This year, there was thankfully a focus away from just Facebook – which, incidentally, is not the end and be all of Digital Marketing! Focus on potential of mobile platform, e-commerce (by both local and foreign speakers) and Urdu Internet was really insightful. Some of the foreign speakers should have done bit better homework on the Pakistan digital environment. But this year, much of what the foreign speakers covered seemed more doable and applicable in Pakistan given that our digital economy has grown in the last year. Overall, I found Digit 2.0 to be a great learning experience and look forward to it next year. Samra, I have posted the link to your article on LinkedIn as well.

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