Archive for February 2015

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

Who Will Speak at Festival of MediaAsia-Pacific 2015?

Last week I brought you the news of Festival of MediaAsia-Pacific. Since then, few people inquired me about the content of the conference and the speakers.

From the information I gathered from the organizers when I contacted them for more detailed, what I realized was the list of speakers are still not closed but there are few speakers already confirmed for the event. Please note this event is not something purely digital media. The event cover the broader subject of media & communication, and as very obvious in this digital age a bulk of the topics they will discuss are going to be topics related to new and emerging media.

According to the event website the 2014 event featured 40+ speakers from across the entire industry ecosystem. Here is a brief profile of some of the speakers who have already confirmed for the event this year.

I’m still awaiting few feedbacks from the organizers before I confirm my participation. As I said last week, if there are other people who are interested in attending the event from Sri Lanka I’d love to get in touch with them beforehand.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How to Get Started on Facebook Business Manager

Late last year Facebook announced they are going to convert all Facebook Ad Manager Accounts to a newer and improved versions ‘BusinessManager’ effective mid-February. Option of converting into a BM account was there for Facebook advertiser but most people waited till last minute, not knowing what exactly will be the changes. In developed markets, Facebook offered support through their sales reps in the conversion process but markets like Sri Lanka never happens to get such assisted transitions in situations like this.

Being a part of Ogilvy worldwide network, we had the privilege of getting Facebook support in the conversion process. We recently completed 100% migration from older version of Facebook Ads Manager platform into the new and improved Business Manager platform.
If you are a small business owner or an individual advertiser who doesn’t have access to assisted transition to Business Manager, this post will help you understand some fundamentals in the new platform.

Better User Access Control

Overall, Facebook’s Business Manager is an advanced (in terms of access controls and usability) platform than Google Adwords My Client Center (MCC). If you are already familiar with Google’s MCC for Adwords, you will find it extremely easy to adapt to Facebook’s Business Manager. Just like in Adwords MCC, you will be able to manage different ad accounts from a single login to your Business Manager.

One major drawback in Google’s MCC is access control. You can control the levels of user rights to the MCC, but you cannot control which ad account (or accounts) a particular user can access or cannot access. For example, if you grant “standard access” to a user to a Google MCC, she will be able to have standard access to all child accounts in that MCC.

Compared to that, Facebook’s Business  Manager will let you decide which ad accounts can be accessed by each of the ‘employees’ added to the BM. (There are two types of users you can add to a BM. Admins and employees). For example, if I am managing company A’s and company B’s Facebook ad accounts through my BM, and if there are dedicated employees for each company, I can restrict the employee responsible for company A from accessing the FB ad account of company B (and other way around too). This is an extremely valuable option for larger agencies who manage dozens of different client accounts.

Add Multiple Payment Methods

In the old ad manager, once you add a payment method that will apply for all campaigns you run on that ad account. If you are running FB ads for two different clients in the same ad account, and if your payment method fails, that will affect both the clients. In the new system you can add separate payment methods for each ad account you separately create for your clients and manage the entire billing process independently. This enables agencies to be more transparent with clients, by letting clients to access their ad accounts with access control.

One Login, Multiple BM’s

To login to any number of different Business Manager Accounts you have access to, you need to use only one login ID that is your personal Facebook ID. Earlier, for each personal Facebook account one ad manager account was assigned. As a reason, people who are supposed to manage Facebook ads for their employers used to create a separate Facebook account to manage the FB ads and maintained their personal Facebook profiles independent from work life. This was clearly a violation of Facebook’s T&C which says, “no one user should create more than one Facebook account under any circumstances”. To worsen things, people use to share these “official FB accounts” with their bosses, clients, and other colleagues. Facebook now identifies these accounts as “shared accounts” or “gray accounts” and allow you to add all past data in such ad managers into your new Business Manager as a ‘shared account’. Once you do that, Facebook will block access to your ‘gray account’. If you have two or more business manager accounts, you will still need just your personal Facebook account to login to it. All you have to do is, going to and login using your Facebook account. At the next screen, BM will ask which account you want to login to (if you have access to more than one BM account).

Things You Must Know Before You Convert to Business Manager

 First of all you need to have a fully functional personal Facebook account to create a Business Manager. You must have admin access to the official fan page of the company/business you are creating the BM account for. For example, when we created the BM account for Neo@Ogilvy SL, the person who initiated the process was supposed to have admin access to Neo@Ogilvy Sri Lanka Facebook page. Facebook identified this as the primary fan page of the Business Manager account.
Once you create your Business Manager account, you can import your old ad manager account data by going to the “Ad Accounts” tab under ‘Settings’ on your Business Manager interface.
You can add ‘employees’ and more ‘admins’ under the ‘People’ tab on the BM interface.

I only started using the Facebook Business Manager yesterday. I will continue to learn more cool features of this platform as I use this for practical purposes, and will share some more tips on this blog in time to come.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Festival of Media Asia-Pacific 2015. Are You Attending?

Last week I mentioned in one of my blog posts, about this international conference happening in Singapore towards the end of March. Since that post, the organizers of Festival of Media Asia-Pacific contacted me with an invitation to participate and they shared with me some key highlights of the event.

Even though I haven’t still 100% sure whether I’m going to attend this conference, I thought it would be good to share some details about the conference with the readers of this blog.
Festival of Media Asia Pacific is a regional event dedicated to the evolution of media. The event brings together over 700 senior executives from 25+ countries worldwide for three days to network, discuss and understand the latest trends driving the media in Asia Pacific. This will be a valuable event to attend by all those who are involved in marketing and communications field. With digital communication mediums taking the front seat in the region, putting traditional channels to secondary importance, I’m sure the content of the event will focus a lot on the latest trends in digital media planning and social media landscape in the region.

The event features a conference with keynote speeches from industry veterans from the region, an award night to recognize the media excellence in the region, and several other elements.
If you represent a start-up business, there is an interesting section of the conference for start-up businesses called “EMERGE”. This is an exclusive start-up program which will identify the most innovative, game changing start-up businesses from across the region.

The organizers promised to share with me the finalized agenda for the conference and the speaker profiles which I will share with you in due time.

If you are interested, learn more about the event here. If you plan to attend the conference, please do drop me an email so that we all can be there as one bunch of delegates from Sri Lanka J

Sunday, February 8, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Impact of 2015 Presidential Election Result on Digital Advertising in Sri Lanka

I may be a little late to write this post, but ever since the final result of the election was announced I always wanted to do this comparison as a blog post. I immediately shared my opinion as a Facebook status on 9th morning, but work and other commitments kept me away from writing this post. Anyways, it’s better late than never!

In my opinion the presidential election of 2015 was one major milestone in changing the attitudes among marketers about digital advertising in Sri Lanka. Before the election, ex-president MR dominated the traditional advertising channels with humongous budgets to schedule one TVC after another, on all five major TV channels. Add to this, his campaign covered almost all the key pages on daily and weekly newspapers. Contrary to this, his opponent’s campaign was largely focused on the internet and Social Media. More than being a strategic decision, I thought they (MY3 camp) were forced to be restricted to those mediums as they were clearly lagging behind MR when it comes to advertising budgets to spend on mainstream media.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

How to Use Facebook Audience Insights for Campaign Planning

If you haven’t already noticed, your Facebook ads account now comes with an inbuilt tool to analyse various aspects of your target audience which you would have previously done using third party tools like SocialBakers Market Insights.
By using this tool you can play around with different targeting options you may use in your Facebook ads campaigns. For instance, Facebook custom audiences tool  allows you to narrow down your potential target audience on Facebook using several demographic and behavioral filters.
To access your Audience Insights tool, go to your Facebook ads account and look for the “Audience Insights” link on your left hand sidebar.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe


At last I managed to give my blog a ‘new look’ after almost six years! When I started this blog back in 2007 I never expected to sustain this for more than one year. It was experimental at the beginning, but I kept going posting at least once a month on this blog up until 2012 but my frequency of posting dropped drastically in 2013 and 2014.

Last two years I was kept busy with work and several other new projects I’ve ventured into, so I had very little time to focus on ‘blogging’. On top of that, convenience of Facebook and Twitter compelled me to use those two Social Networks to express my opinions more often, than going through the hassle of creating blog posts here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
Tag :

Getting Ready for the Digital Media Trends in 2015

This year I declared myself the year of rekindling my knowledge about marketing and communications. We live in an era where the landscape for marketing and communications industry changes so rapidly, with fast tracked changes in mobile communications and digital technologies. Social Media and Web 2.0 are the buzzwords of the past and the world is moving forward fast with latest trends like multi-screen planning, programmatic media planning and much more efficient and effective tools for marketers to use in their communications planning.

Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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