“it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.”

we are a boutique digital media agency focusing on companies who want to be digital challengers or are at the cusp of being disrupted by digital challengers 

Expect cost of placing Facebook's ads to get more expensive consistently

Facebook is about to hit middle age. Middle age for Social Media companies means your mature market Daily Active User is plateauing or slightly dropping. In frontier and emerging markets still going through broadband penetration wars with service providers and with runway for teledensity penetration, you may still be gaining viewers but they will follow the same cycle as mature markets eventually. 

But the thing is if you look at Facebook revenue numbers they are blowing past their previous results. They are not putting more ads per screen on. They have maximized ad load and new avenues like Instant Articles are a failure (The sheer folly of allowing that to happen is another blog post). They are not gaining viewers in markets that monetize well. In fact after recent changes to news feed they should see a drop in both active users and time spent on platform. So how are they getting the revenue numbers? It is simple. They are charging more for reach in their ads. That shows serious holding power. As someone who uses the platform for advertising daily I can tell you for demographics based reach it is still vastly monetizable. In many cases I could give ten times the price I am already giving. 

Facebook is only a growth story in optics. From a monetization point of view it will need to rely more and more on raising ad prices to meet its numbers.... And it will do exactly that.

A very short blog post on where people go wrong with design thinking

I'd have to say one of the biggest missteps people do in ideation and design thinking is when they are making personas. Both marketers and customers are guilty of this: Assuming personas based on who they imagine their customers to be and not doing it through primary research or having the wherewithal and discipline to be free of those assumptions during primary research is killing any potential benefits you do intense consumer journey mapping and value chain analysis.

People with great social empathy help; the ones who can place culture in context. Often they have a humanities background. Best person I know for gleaning personas had an English Literature background.... Use ethnographic interviews but be prepared to personalize for each client. And never dive into even a project without knowing the digital transformation strategy of your client. If they and the whole world is changing why should you be aiming at a stationary target in the past?

On succeeding as a startup....


Not a startup expert although I'm on my second one. But I make plenty of pitch decks for them as part of our digital marketing and strategy offering and I talk to plenty of founders. Some basic facts become clear:

  • If you have an amazing team but a crap market you'll fail
  • If you have a crap team but an amazing market you'll win
  • If you have an amazing team in an amazing market you can be wildly successful

Choose a hyper growth market for your startup no matter what field you are in or even if you are a mature business. If you are in Fertilizers choose nano technology and binding. If you are in industry choose IoT and edge computing. If you do Value Added Reselling pick their most advance technology programs to specialize in or build competency in. For IBM that is Design Thinking and Block Chain. For Microsoft its edge and cloud. For Cisco Internet of Everything and Fog Computing. Stay on the bleeding edge and bleed. You'll watch your competitors in the rear view mirror.

Will cryptocurrencies open new avenues for brands?

In not so recent past, I was introduced to a social network which incentivizes its user for engagement by giving them a bit of the Bitcoin. I was really fascinated with the idea and really wanted to implement the solution back in my homeland but sadly due to some genuine restrictions, I had to let go of this passionate idea.

That whole facade brought my attention to this phenomenon of Crypto Currencies majorly focusing on Bitcoins, that are no doubt a huge buzz in the digital world these days. Before we further talk about it, let’s come back to the social network and talk about how these guys are doing such awesome thing over the internet. Like I said, the core objective of the network is to incentivize consumer by giving them Bitcoins for their engagement. Also, they opened channels for brands to come and give consumers discount vouchers or even sell the brand over the social network via Bitcoins. In short, the consumer is not just earning but spending on the same social network. The whole ecosystem of supply and demand is so fascinating that it attracts consumers and brands on its platform automatically. However, not a lot of brands are able to understand the true essence of Bitcoins and some of them were really reluctant to get on board due to certain reasons. 

To my luck, within my circle, I got to meet Syed Hassan Talal, who is doing in-depth research on crypto currencies and its future in Pakistan, and as per him “Bitcoins are one of the most beautiful amalgamations of math and tech ever”.

Now for brands, let me share my experiences by starting with the basics:

What is Bitcoin?

It is a “decentralized” Virtual Currency which is distributed, open source & math based peer to peer Crypto Currency. In simpler words, a new mechanism of digital transactions in business via online / peer to peer & networks that are open source, secure but has no central administration that can keep track of it.  

The Blessing:

Since it is a peer-to-peer system that preserves the anonymity of its users, Bitcoin eliminates the role of the central authority, as it’s self-sustaining and self-regulating cryptographic algorithm not only launches new ‘coins’ (digital coins) but also authorizes transactions; prevents the inclusion of counterfeit Bitcoins; and distributes the coins to its Miners.

Its universal recognition makes it even more convenient for consumers/organizations. Also, there is almost no transaction fee involved (yet) which makes it even better option than usual online payment methods.

Singapore’s recent steps towards “Project Ubin”, in which they are using “Ethereum” to digitize their national currency. Although their focus is more towards building a concrete “interbank payment” system as of now. But the level of trust that cryptocurrencies get after this will open new avenues for people in financial sector and brands to use them effectively.

The Anathema:

With all its ease and advantages. It does have some problems. Since this whole phenomenon is disruptive and is reshaping the financial and payment industry. Bitcoin has proved itself to be a challenge for global regulatory authorities. The market capitalization of this non-guaranteed, unbacked, decentralized virtual currency is soaring. Although the number of users, the avenues, and business opportunities are growing. But the overall regulation puts a huge limit on its scope and also raises questions about its legal status in several countries.

Recent ransomware incident also raised a lot of questions by several authorities where they titled it as “Currency for Cyber Criminals”. Such issues are raising a lot of eyebrows for the not just regulations but the brands to either utilize it for the brand awareness, building or even promotion side.

Bitcoin and Brands…The Possibilities:

Although this area is still unexplored and we can do wonders with it. But in my humble opinion, I personally foresee it focusing more towards rewarding loyal consumers by building brand eco-system around consumer world. Big brands like Walmart, Ikea or any chain that offers points, based system can utilize crypto currencies and reward consumers with them via Bitcoins. Not just sharing but also giving them opportunities to use and avail several products in form of digital voucher will ensure consumers use them as often as possible.

Another opportunity that was also initiated by BitLanders is to work closely with brands during research phase where they engage with consumers and ask them questions, in return, they incentivize consumers with Bitcoins and also give them opportunities to utilize them and purchase items online. This just not makes consumer interested but also the response time with opinions increases.  

Although there is a lot to discuss, debate or even negate about crypto currencies. But at the back of our mind, we all know it’s an inevitable future and we need to further experiment, customize and adapt it swiftly to ensure we can use the best of it within due time. Maybe one day we will get an opportunity to have a digital wallet that can carry Bitcoins as well and we can use it universally on all brands and enjoy crypto currencies over multiple platforms.

Augmented And Virtual Reality for brands: Present & Future

*This post is by our Brand Evangelist who we think should be spending more time working - Editor*

It is critical for an organization to ensure they are engaging with their target consumers through every possible means. Almost every category is, in some way or the other, trying to maximize the connection with their consumers and introduce new and innovative ways to do so. But often this experimentation fizzles out.

AR & VR are potentially perfect tools for such activities as they keep your audience engaged in innovative and immersive ways, keeps the message consistent and the recall value is always higher than the usual “activity” based communications.

It brings experiential marketing to life, and the consumer gets the best of the messaging that the brand wants to convey. We need to start inserting AR/VR in our communication plans as “Digi-Capital” expects that virtual and augmented reality will become a $120 billion market by 2020. Such predictions are a clear sign of the level of expectations AR/VR is expected to fulfill.


Once Upon A Time
Let’s take a recap of how its effectiveness has been highlighted as an integrated part of successful campaigns. The initial AR Campaign done by National Geographic 5 years ago was a mall-based activity, which projected images of animals, dinosaurs, astronauts, and even ambient environments amongst numerous curious shoppers. Their core idea was to engage shoppers via an AR experience.

To enable them with experience, participants stood at the center of an empty plane that featured the National Geographic logo. Large LEDs in the front wall showcased the images of velociraptors hopping, a leopard taking a stroll and pausing for a quick nap, a looming thunderstorm, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a solo astronaut on a space mission, among others, popped up for people to interact with.

This concept had such a strong impact that 2 years later, BBC did a similar activity in malls to engage consumers – this video can be seen below. In this case, National Geographic is clearly a winner, where it displayed the forgotten world around us in a very innovative way and ensured their equity became stronger through this engagement with minimum physical effort.

Samsung did an interesting campaign by opening a scuba diving shop in the middle of the desert in Australia, where they introduced their virtual reality gear to the consumer and showed them the power of imagination. It became a lifetime experience for most customers as their chance to access the sea were slim. But this campaign showed a new perspective to introduce a brand to their consumers.

These campaign ideas clearly show how brands are using this technology to engage consumers – be it a virtual walkthrough (Union Square), gaming experience through Sony’s VR GearDXBor DIOR using VR for a backstage view. There are now a lot of innovative ideas through which brands are trying to engage their consumers for maximum recall value.

As It Stands
Recently Facebook introduced an Augmented Reality Social Experience through which one can connect with their friends via VR Oculus Rift and interact with them through a virtual world. The idea itself is fascinating in how you can sit in a virtual room, watch movies, play games and interact with friends who not physically present and could be sitting on the other side of the world.

The gaming industry has run full steam ahead and is now creating games played via VR Gear giving as realistic a feel as possible. HTC, PlayStation and even Oculus are developing games for consumers. We can talk a lot about gaming and VR itself but let’s focus on the business side of using this technology. As it stands currently, brands are trying to connect Augmented / Virtual Reality to the following areas for maximum engagement:

  1. All-in-one shopping experiences
  2. Product trials and consumer interactive dialogues
  3. Interactive ads
  4. Events

The scope of hardware used is not just limited to VR Gear but also includes mobile devices, innovative screen-based solutions, and your gaming consoles are entering the market too.

The Future
Clever campaigns focusing on augmented and virtual reality should happen more often as brands look to differentiate in how they engage with a consumer suffering from attention deficit. Creating "dwell" via AR/VR will lead o some interesting use cases.

Major players like Facebook, HTC/Valve, and Sony will not just push to improve their hardware but will also work to make the overall virtual experience better. This will also open opportunities for dozens of start-ups to initiate more engaging and cost-effective solutions to mobile and VR.

The price of entrance to AR/VR is the single biggest deterrent to expanding the ecosystem. As this comes down expect consumer engagement to proportionately improve.... But waiting quietly but lethally in the wings is holographic technology that will require no devices.... Grab the popcorn!