Festival of Media Asia Pacific 2015 - Post Event Thoughts

Google Singapore managing director Joanna Flint (center)
 taking a group selfie with her selfie stick. 
I am back in Sri Lanka after attending the Festival of Media Asia conference which happened in Singapore last week. I’m sure some of you would have followed me on Twitter for all the live updates and pictures from the event.

I wanted to do daily sum-up posts here but it was too tempting for me to get some time off after the conference to go and explore the Lion City :-). I had to make maximum out of my time in Singapore, so I didn’t want to be stuck in a hotel room and update my blog after the conference is over.
All in all, it was two days with highly concentrated high quality content on latest trends in media and communication. Selection of speakers for the event was excellent, and timing of sessions, the order of activities was organized in such a way that participants would never be bored by being there for two days.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
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Official website of Festival of #FOMA15 announced today that Twitter has teamed up with the Festival of Media Asia Pacific, Power98FM and Starcom MediaVest Group to launch #YPL (Young Promising Leaders Program), a competition where five internships are up for grabs at Twitter.

The #YPL program promotes the mission of supporting young talent deserving of developmental opportunities with a view of spotting, nurturing and training the next generation of leaders in Singapore. Candidates are invited to enter the first stage of the competition by submitting a pitch via a Tweet (text, photo, video) on why they should be selected, along with three Vines of supporting endorsements.

 Finalists will be invited to make presentations at the Festival of Media Asia Pacific conference, where the public will be asked to vote and tweet for their favourite candidates. The five winners will be announced at the Festival's awards gala dinner ceremony on the evening of Tuesday 24 March 2015 at the Capella Singapore Hotel.

 Check out the details of #YPL program on FOMA website here.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Understanding ICC’s Brand and Content Protection Guidelines for Marketers

With the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup coming closer to its business end, we see more and more local and international brands getting aggressively involved in Cricket World Cup related marketing promotions campaigns. Even in Sri Lanka, we see a lot of radio and TV stations, super market chains, Telco companies and many more companies doing various marketing activities in parallel to the ICC Cricket World Cup.

However, most of these marketing campaigns are done in a manner they violate the stipulated rules and regulations by the ICC to protect ICC’s own intellectual property rights (IPR) and the best interest of the ICC commercial partners.

Oh wait…Are there regulations like that? I suppose, some of you may ask. Yes, it’s true most marketers in Sri Lanka do not know that there are such regulations governing a brand’s ability or inability to run a CWC associated promotion and from the ones who are aware of that fact, a vast majority is simply ignoring the rules thinking that the ICC is not enforcing those regulations in Sri Lanka.

I am not a lawyer, so please don’t take any of the opinions and recommendations mentioned below as legal advice. If you are a marketer who is concerned about the implication of these ICC regulations, please consult your company’s designated legal partners to get the best interpretation of ICC regulations.

Let’s start with what are these guidelines and where are these rules published. You can download the full ICC branding and promotions guidelines for CWC 2015 on this link.

This document clearly defines what are the protected IPRs of ICC and clearly explain why the interests of ICC commercial partners are protected in these guidelines. All the ICC commercial partners pay a huge sum of sponsorship fee to ICC for the conducting of ICC Cricket World Cup. After investing that amount of money for this gala event, is it fair for ICC to turn a blind eye on the competitors of these commercial partners getting mileage out of Cricket World Cup? Definitely not. That’s why, ICC is putting this much emphasis on the rights of the commercial partners.

For example, after investing a huge sum of money to become the official beverage partner of ICC World Cup, Pepsi would never want to see Coca-Cola running an under the crown promotion to give away World Cup match tickets (a simple example). By now I guess you realized it well; this is why the Sri Lanka cricket team is not wearing their official sponsor’s logo on their world cup jersey. Because, Reliance India is the official telecommunications partner for Cricket World Cup so for their best interest ICC has ruled out the possibility of any other telco brand to have space on player jerseys for this world cup. Yes, Dialog may be the official sponsor for Sri Lanka cricket team but ICC is bigger than SLC. In that scenario, Dialog is considered a competitor of a commercial partner of ICC for this world cup and hence being deprived of taking any advantage of their national team sponsorship during the World Cup matches.

 Now, does this mean none of the ICC commercial partners can do any marketing communications with related to the World Cup? No, it’s not the case. As you may realize, all these things are governed by a “law” and as always every law has a flaw in it.

There’s so much that ICC can do to protect their commercial partners. Beyond that, the competition can take control. For example, according to the television broadcasting rights agreements, every channel who gets the license to broadcast CWC matches in each country are supposed to offer their sponsorship deals exclusively to the ICC commercial partners in the first round of offering (no bidding allowed). If any of the ICC commercial partners are not buying the advertising properties on the TV channel, then the channel can put it openly on sale for any interested advertiser. This is how Channel Eye studio discussion advertising property ended up in the hands of Mobitel. Now, Mobitel being (technically) a competitor of Reliance, can still use a CWC property to advertise their brand (which is perfectly legal). Problem arises, if Mobitel (for example) start running promotions during this broadcast directly linking to the CWC matches. For example, asking questions like “what would be the first innings score of today’s Pakistan Vs UAE match?” and then selecting a winner would be a violation of ICC promotions and brand regulations (refer the doc).

Now, there are lawful ways of brands sneaks through these promotions guidelines.

In reality, Reliance, LG, Pepsi, MRF, Emirates, Reebok, Castrol, Moneygram, Hyundai, ESPN Star, and SAP are the only commercial partners ICC has who can have a commercial association with the ICC World Cup.

Any competitor of those brands attempting to create a commercial association (running promotions directly linked to CWC matches, offering tickets to the final etc) with World Cup is both unlawful and unethical.

HOWEVER, anyone (including brands - who are legally "persons") can use their Social Media profiles to "report", "discuss" and "engage" about matches which takes place in the CWC with an intention of "information sharing" (no commercial/trade association).

For example, when Mahela Jayawardene scores a century, Samsung or CEAT Facebook pages may put a status congratulating his achievement, but LG or MRF can't make a lawsuit out of it for violating ICC regulations. Technically, a tweet is not an advertisement, so mentioning “Congratulations Mahela for that wonderful century against Afghanistan” on Samsung Twitter account is not at all creating a commercial association between the Cricket World Cup and brand Samsung.

You can run promotions for your brand during the World Cup season, using only the word “Cricket” (and not World Cup) or the other way around (World Cup, but no mentioning about Cricket). You can run “Cricket Quizzes” and give away non-CWC15 related gifts during the World Cup season, which is perfectly a legal way of riding on the cricket wave. Or, you can run “World Cup” related raffle draw and give away non-CWC related gifts. Because, ICC’s IPR protects only “Cricket World Cup”, as FIFA, IRB and many other sports bodies maybe sharing the term ‘World Cup’ so nobody can claim exclusive rights for that.

OK, those were my interpretations and as I mentioned before, take this advices at your own risk or consult your lawyer :-) I am not responsible for you getting sued by ICC for trying out any of these suggested options.

For better clarity, read the full document published by the ICC. For simplicity, let me quote two of the most relevant paragraphs from that document to end this blog post.

What uses are unlawful without a licence from the ICC?The unlicensed and unauthorised use of any of the ICC CWC Names, ICC CWC Marks (or any other marks or logos that are confusingly similar to, or likely to be mistaken for, them) or ICC CWC Footage is strictly prohibited. For example, without a licence from the ICC, it is unlawful to
(i) use the ICC CWC Names and ICC CWC Marks in a manner likely to cause confusion among P a g e | 6 members of the public as to the existence of a commercial association with the ICC CWC 2015, or
(ii) reproduce or distribute items using ICC CWC 2015 IPR in the course of trade. The ICC CWC Names and ICC CWC Marks cannot be used on goods, in business names or in advertising or promotions without a licence from the ICC or one of its authorised licensees that, in turn, has the rights to grant sub-licenses.

It is also unlawful, through the use of ICC CWC 2015 IPR, to falsely represent or imply any association, affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship or similar relationship with the ICC CWC 2015. It is important to note that a formal or pre-existing association with any of the participating national teams, players or the tournament venues does not permit a team partner, team sponsor, player sponsor or venue sponsor any right to use the ICC CWC 2015 IPR (other than the specific rights such team is authorised by the ICC to licence) without the prior authorisation of the ICC.

When can the ICC CWC 2015 IPR be used?
The ICC CWC 2015 IPR can be used with the licence and authorisation of the ICC or its authorised licensees that have been expressly granted the rights to grant sub-licenses. Such licence and authorisation will only be given to official ICC CWC 2015 sponsors, partners, licensees and noncommercial partners. There are very few situations in which the ICC CWC 2015 IPR can be used without the ICC’s explicit licence and consent.

The ICC CWC Names, ICC CWC Marks and, to a limited extent and subject to the ICC CWC 2015 Media Accreditation Terms and Conditions and news access guidelines (and all relevant copyright laws), the ICC CWC Footage, may be used for news reporting purposes in noncommercial editorial-only pieces without the ICC’s prior authorisation. In certain circumstances when reporting and providing information on the ICC and/or the ICC CWC 2015, journalists are able to use the ICC CWC Names and ICC CWC Marks to illustrate their editorial-only feature subject to full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Such use of ICC CWC 2015 IPR must be in compliance with these Guidelines. The ICC’s intention is not to restrict people from interacting with the ICC CWC 2015 or providing or sharing information on the ICC CWC 2015, but, when they do so, the ICC’s legal rights must be recognised, respected and fully adhered to.

Mentioning on certain brand names on this post was solely for the purpose explaining the concepts, but in no way I intend to mean those brands are violating the ICC brand and content protection guidelines.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Full Agenda Announced for Festival of Media Asia Pacific

Finally, it’s confirmed. I will be travelling to Singapore for the Festival of Media Asia-Pacific which will take place from 22nd to 24th March 2015 at Capella Singapore, Singapore.

They have announced the finalized agenda for the conference and there are some exciting topics lined up throughout the two day conference.

I’m particularly looking forward for some sessions, covering the emerging techniques in digital media.

TV and programmatic is the topic for Chris Dobson, Executive Chairman of The Exchange Lab which is scheduled for the day 1 of the conference itself. “Traditional media has become digitised; cinema distributors have moved to digital formats, outdoor has invested in digital billboards. TV is the last of the traditional media sectors to move into programmatic. These 'next generation' advertising solutions all have one thing in common, technology. It's the connective tissue between content and the consumer, brands and advertising.” That’s an impressive synopsis of the session Chris is planning deliver at FOMA15.

On day 2, there is another interesting topic lined up “Working offline for the masses”, a session by Deepak Ravindran, Co-founder & CEO of Innoz. This session discuss a topic very much relevant for the Sri Lankan market. How do brands reach millions of consumers that own mobile phones, but not smart phones? How can you create effective campaigns that resonate and generate brand engagement for the offline mobile user? It’s going to be very interesting to find answers for these questions before us.

These are some of the topics I found very interesting among much more valuable sessions lined up. It’s only four weeks more for the conference, and you still have chance to reserve a place for you.
Drop me an email (contact me) if you are planning to take part on this conference, we can catch up during one of these networking sessions :-)
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Social Media Bootcamp Colombo – Saturday 4th April

Please note the change of date. Workshop is postponed to 4th April 2015

I am conducting the first Social Media Bootcamp for the year 2015, on 4th April 2015 at the Grand Oriental Hotel Colombo. This is the 2nd public workshop I’m conducting after I returned to the business of Social Media training :-)

For those of you who are new to this blog, I conducted my first Social Media workshop in 2009, and then I conducted several successful workshops with eBusiness Academy in 2010 and 2011. Busy work scheduled kept me away from the social media training scene for a while, until I joined Suranga and Rohan for the Digital Marketing Bootcamp in December 2014.

This time, the one day workshop will focus only on Social Media. I will be covering topics like ‘developing a social media strategy, social listening and monitoring, social media crisis management, calculating the ROI of social media, optimizing Facebook newsfeed visibility, and advertising on Facebook.

If you are interested in participating, contact EPITOM Consulting on 071-3195614 or 011-5920258 for inquiries. 
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

I Want to Target Top CEO’s and Business Leaders in Sri Lanka. What’s the Best Email List?

Well, this was a question asked from me just today, by a colleague working for another Ogilvy discipline in Sri Lanka :-). Of course this wasn’t a question she had; she just passed this question to me when a client of her pointed the question at her.

I did answered her question, explaining why I cannot recommend such a silver bullet email list solution to target all the top business executives, CEO’s, CFO’s and CMO’s in Sri Lanka. I’m not going to re-post my answer here but the point of this blog post will be about this primitive thinking behind most marketers about targeting their audiences.

 Email Marketing Myth in Sri Lanka 
For most marketers in Colombo, eMarketing or digital marketing still means sending out an email blast to a list of addresses. While email marketing can be a real effective way of communication, the way it is abused in Sri Lanka by some of these ‘email list marketers’ is pathetic. They come up with a list of 100,000 or 200,000 email addresses (they say, but nobody have seen the list) and sell it to these unsuspecting customers at Rs.2,500/- or Rs.3,000/- a blast who believes once an EDM is sent to one of these lists, it will actually receive those 200,000 addresses.

When we start working with many new clients, they automatically want us to have these EDM shoots in their emarketing mix. We explain them the ineffectiveness of these shoots, but rarely people understand and tell us “It’s just Rs.3,000; why don’t we give it a try”. Like that, they spend Rs.3,000 into 4 to 5 shoots with 3 different list owners which makes their monthly budget on these list shoots about Rs.45,000/-. Still cheaper than what you will spend to buy a 20 seconds spot on TV, right?

But have you really measured the effectiveness of these campaigns? In the past we have asked for click through reports and open rate reports from these email list marketers for some of the campaigns they did for our clients. They never support their campaign performance with such trustworthy reports. Then we used Google Analytics UTM tags to track clicks coming from these EDM’s to our clients’ websites. After doing this with multiple list suppliers for multiple campaigns we realized a shocking fact. An average EDM shoot which cost you only Rs.3,000/- only attracts 17 clicks in average to your website.

 We once showed this analysis to a client who used to do email shoots for so many years without measuring the effectiveness. The marketing team suddenly realizes the point we have been trying to make, and immediately decided to discontinue this ineffective tool. But yet, in most of the companies the marketers still trust email databases as an effective way of doing online marketing. They don’t understand the fact that these are unsolicited, non-opt in, spam email addresses they are dumping EDMs. It not only damages the image of whichever the brand uses this method of communication, but also shows how primitive your company’s digital strategy is.

If your brand is backed with a proper digital strategy, and if your digital presence is managed by properly qualified people, you will not ask questions like “what’s the best email list I can use to send EDM’s to CEO’s and CMO’s in Sri Lanka?”. Instead you will ask better questions like “how can I target CEO’s and CMO’s in Sri Lanka more effectively?”.

For questions like that, a good digital marketing consultant will have many options as answers. Even with repeated explanations about ineffectiveness of EDM list marketing method, some of our clients still brief us to use this technique.

I have realized they want us to do these EDM shoots foe one or more of the below reasons.

1. It honestly works for them in one way or another. Good for them!

2. “I don’t trust the agency advice. I know my digital strategy” attitude

3. My boss checks promotional emails. If he doesn’t see our EDMs in his inbox (spam box) he blames us not doing “digital” right.

4. This EDM list marketing company is owned by a very good friend of mine

Finally, to end this post let me say one thing. We live in an era where pin-point targeting is a reality with various precision targeting methods made available by advanced digital advertising tools. Sending EDMs to a list of unsolicited email addresses is not a digital strategy. There are no such email databases which will guarantee you reaching top CEO’s and CMO’s in Sri Lanka. If you want to do proper email marketing, spend some decent budgets, subscribe for some decent tools, pay for a decent agency/consultant, and do it the right way. There are no short-cut solutions to implement a proper digital strategy.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How In-Market Audiences on Google Adwords Can Improve Your Marketing Budget ROI

In-market audiences and affinity targeting on Google display network are two great tools you can use to reach your precise audience through better targeting.

In-market audience targeting was available for Google Adwords users for quite a some time but many people did not harness the maximum potential of this option due to lack of understanding on how in-market audiences work.

Let’s take a quick look at how Google’s in-market audiences feature works. A prospect in an in-market audience for you is someone who is currently actively search/interacts, researching or comparing the exact types of products or services you sell. Using in-market audience targeting you can reach to your potential customers at the right time, when he or she is researching about products or services that you are selling.

This is somewhat different from affinity targeting. Affinity audiences consist of people with a strong history of interacting with certain types of content/products on the internet. As against to this, in-market audiences focus on people who are currently interested in the types of products you are selling.

Let’s take an example. Imagine I spend two to three weeks researching about professional cameras, reading reviews, comparing products and clicking on ads for cameras. Over this three week’s period my behavior will create a huge affinity towards cameras and photography and I will be added to the affinity category “shutterbugs” by Google. Now, think you are Nikon and want to target your latest camera at me, through affinity targeting. Eventually you will target me based on three weeks old data, by which time I have already purchased my Cannon camera. Being the marketer for Nikon, you have spent your ad money on targeting a person who already converted to Cannon.

Compared to this, if you use in-market audience targeting you will reach with your messages to the people who are currently having a purchase intention for buying a camera. This method will help you to further fine tune your targeting and hence increasing your media budget ROI.

Here’s a small video clip from Google team, explaining In-Market Audiences in plain English.

If you are Sri Lankan and have no clue about what I’m talking about; affinity targeting and in-market targeting are the latest additions to Google Display Network’s targeting efficiency. Google Display Network already was a thousand times efficient method of reaching the right audience at the right time compared to a typical TV advertising schedule for your brand, and now with affinity targeting and in-market audiences, the efficiency has been further fine-tuned.

And yes, these are already available for anyone who wants to try this in Sri Lanka J
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

EFFIES Sri Lanka Workshop Session on Programmatic Marketing

Yesterday I delivered a presentation at SLIM Sri Lanka Effie Awards 2015 workshop powered by HP Print solutions. Organizers of the event wanted me to cover a topic somewhat futuristic for Sri Lankan context but yet realistic in global context. This was largely to go along with their theme for the day ‘strike big with digital world’s best kept secrets’. J

I naturally went for the topic Programmatic Buying which is a hot topic in the recent past. I was pretty impressed by the reception of the audience about what you can do with programmatic marketing. Several people inquired me after the session on possibilities of implementing real-time targeting mechanisms for Sri Lankan businesses using programmatic buying. I discussed three barriers ahead of us, using big data and programmatics in marketing.

One, the barrier of budgets. With the current scale of budgets Sri Lankan companies spend on digital media buying, implementing a big data driven programmatic targeting mechanism is just a dream. This barrier would eventually be broken as the internet penetration grows fast in the country, and when companies suddenly get to realize they are missing some important part in their media mix.
Second barrier is less evolved privacy laws in Sri Lanka. Data protection laws in Sri Lanka are not that evolved, so there are risks of people abusing these technologies making the consumer a victim. Companies who will become early adapters in this, should have proper integrity and self-regulations to set the right standards for the industry in future.

Third barrier is fear of failure. With enough budgets, enough data and good internal regulations, companies would still not adapt these technologies because of their fear of failure. As usual my advice for them is to fail now, learn now, and prepare for the future. You should rather fail in a low internet penetrated market than wait till it get to 50% penetration to make your first mistake.

In time to come I will blog more about programmatic marketing and precision targeting on this blog. Stay tuned!
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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