Samer Shoueiry: Build­ing brand in a dig­i­tal age

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Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion is ev­ery­where. Tak­ing a look at any process in any given in­dus­try, things are chang­ing and dig­i­tal is be­ing in­voked to make the pro­cesses more and more ef­fi­cient. From re­spon­sive web­sites to public re­la­tions via the so­cial me­dia, dig­i­tal is the way to go. While Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion im­pacts pro­cesses, it has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on brands too. Brands con­tinue to be im­por­tant as more ad­ver­tis­ing moves dig­i­tal, but new strate­gies are re­quired in or­der to im­prove brand pres­ence. To un­der­stand what a 21st cen­tury dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­egy looks like, Samer Shoueiry, head of dig­i­tal and so­cial mar­ket­ing at Publi­cis Groupe ME, pro­vides ad­vice.

We need to ac­cept that the way sto­ries are told has changed: peo­ple to­day have a voice equal to brands. We need to think of how we en­gage with our au­di­ence and al­low them to con­trib­ute through dif­fer­ent medi­ums and co-cre­ate these sto­ries.

How dig­i­tal and new tech­nolo­gies have changed the way brands are built?

Here’s a sim­ple equa­tion that will put things into per­spec­tive; we had less brands, less peo­ple and less chan­nels v/s all the brands, all the peo­ple and the un­lim­ited chan­nels we have to­day. Be­fore dig­i­tal be­came main­stream, ev­ery­thing had to be de­liv­ered be­tween TV, Ra­dio and Print. Mas­ter­ing these medi­ums with well-crafted ex­e­cu­tions and big ideas en­abled a few brands to sus­tain a dom­i­nant pres­ence on a limited num­ber of chan­nels. With the com­ing of the In­ter­net and the power of the mo­bile phone, ev­ery­one is now reach­able. This new ecosys­tem of me­dia that was en­riched by dig­i­tal and in­no­va­tion is in con­stant evo­lu­tion. We have new chan­nels be­ing built as we speak, with new tech­niques to mas­ter, all this avail­able to us thanks to the tech­nol­ogy break­through that is al­low­ing us to cre­ate ex­pe­ri­ences that were not avail­able to us be­fore.

What does it mean in prac­ti­cal terms for mar­keters?

To­day brands need to be more mean­ing­ful and dis­tinct. They need to be more use­ful and help­ful. A brand pur­pose needs to come across with ac­tions that de­liver on a brand

prom­ise. This is what peo­ple re­act to. Peo­ple don’t want in­ter­rup­tions, they are ask­ing for an added value. Brands have be­come pub­lish­ers; they pro­duce con­tent, not ads, con­tent that peo­ple can build upon and en­gage with. The best par­tic­i­pa­tory cam­paigns are acts that rep­re­sent tan­gi­ble proof that a brand prom­ise is brought to life in a mean­ing­ful man­ner, by help­ing and be­ing use­ful. When this hap­pens peo­ple will en­dorse and par­tic­i­pate. We need to ac­cept that the way sto­ries are told has changed: peo­ple to­day have a voice equal to brands. We need to think of how we en­gage with our au­di­ence and al­low them to con­trib­ute through dif­fer­ent medi­ums and co-cre­ate these sto­ries. What dig­i­tal has done is giv­ing a share of voice to con­sumers, hence mak­ing them in­trin­sic play­ers in the build­ing of any brand. To­day dig­i­tal and so­cial al­lows you to join, guide, lead con­ver­sa­tions that will con­trib­ute in shap­ing your brand per­cep­tion. Charles Val­lance once de­scribed the chang­ing au­di­ence be­hav­ior in to­day’s me­dia by say­ing “we’ve moved from a download cul­ture to an up­load cul­ture”. This has an im­me­di­ate im­pact on how brands tell sto­ries and how we as brand builders con­trib­ute to these pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences.

How to re­in­force the brand across nu­mer­ous dig­i­tal plat­forms?

Here, I would like to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween dig­i­tal and so­cial. Peo­ple go on so­cial me­dia for a pur­pose. They ex­pect brands to do the same. Every chan­nel on so­cial me­dia is dif­fer­ent. We can­not treat Twit­ter the same way we treat Face­book. The be­hav­ior and ex­pec­ta­tion of peo­ple go­ing on Youtube is dif­fer­ent than when they zap on In­sta­gram. For peo­ple, a brand is equal to a friend on their news feed. Brands need to un­der­stand this and they need to be more in­ter­est­ing so that peo­ple want to spend time with them. But most brands go on so­cial me­dia without a clear so­cial pur­pose, a cul­tural hu­man pur­pose. Brands need to make sure to have com­pelling mis­sions that will res­onate with peo­ple. The ar­tic­u­la­tion of the so­cial pur­pose, what we talk about and how we do it, all need to an­swer “What is our brand about?” Dig­i­tal, how­ever, can al­low for big­ger flex­i­bil­ity that other chan­nels can’t have. Dig­i­tal can cre­ate more en­gag­ing and in­ter­est­ing spa­ces that al­low en­hanced cus­tomiza­tion, be more fo­cused, and of­fer peo­ple bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ences.

How dig­i­tal al­lows you to mea­sure a brand’s value?

We cur­rently live in the age of data, and to­day, on dig­i­tal, ev­ery­thing is mea­sur­able. We can start by list­ing all the met­rics that we can mon­i­tor and cap­ture. We have equipped our­selves with the best in class global tools that al­low us to mon­i­tor even the small­est in­ter­ac­tions that can feed and in­form our strate­gies. Set­ting up cam­paign KPI’S based on a busi­ness ob­jec­tive is cru­cial. Still, re­think­ing what else can be mon­i­tored is also im­por­tant, as an evolved medium re­quires a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing. Of course dig­i­tal al­lows you to mea­sure your brands value, but value is not only gen­er­ated on dig­i­tal. As we men­tioned ear­lier, it’s peo­ple who cre­ate brands. Peo­ple live on dig­i­tal. They do so by leav­ing traces, by in­ter­act­ing with brands. The more a brand cre­ates mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions the big­ger the value. The higher level of thought here is to make sure that you are en­gaged in the con­ver­sa­tion when the scale and rel­e­vance is of use to you. Make sure you gen­er­ate as much pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions as pos­si­ble to im­pact pos­i­tively your brand’s value.

+RZ GLJLWDO KDV LQÁXHQFHG tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing?

Peo­ple don’t see the dif­fer­ence be­tween dig­i­tal and tra­di­tional me­dia, so why should we? We sim­ply need to adapt our strate­gies and think­ing to make sure that the split be­tween dig­i­tal and what we re­fer to as tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing is in­vis­i­ble. We have great sto­ries of brand ex­pe­ri­ences we’ve cre­ated, where we used on­line to drive off­line be­hav­ior, with TV spend ty­ing it all to­gether. TV is im­por­tant, and so are print and OOH. We shouldn’t for­get that TV in our re­gion still has a sig­nif­i­cant role in our lives. TV is not only a seg­re­gated box, it is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing dig­i­tal. A suc­cess­ful cam­paign ecosys­tem needs to have a TV ex­pe­ri­ence that is tied to an on­line ex­pe­ri­ence, and vice-versa. Only then will we see the ex­po­nen­tial im­pact that a cam­paign can have and how these ef­forts can be more ef­fi­ciently com­bined. Be­fore we end, I want to stress on the fact that the abil­ity to cre­ate sto­ries in a fric­tion­less con­text will be am­pli­fied by dig­i­tal. It will be more mea­sur­able, and should def­i­nitely be­come more lo­cal and drive more in­te­gra­tion. Dig­i­tal is a ter­mi­nol­ogy that came from the in­cep­tion of the In­ter­net. Its story started 20 years ago, and so­cial me­dia’s 10 years ago. But this is just the be­gin­ning. The im­pact of dig­i­ti­za­tion in our daily lives is only bound to grow. With new tech­nolo­gies be­com­ing main­stream and with the com­ing of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, these are ex­cit­ing times that will con­tinue to grow our me­dia land­scape. We at Publi­cis Groupe are do­ing ev­ery­thing to re­main at the fore­front and iden­tify these changes as they hap­pen. We do this by in­vest­ing in our peo­ple and of­fer­ing our clients the best of both cre­ativ­ity and tech­nol­ogy.

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