Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Facebook overtakes Google - really?

How Facebook overtook Google to be the top spot on the Internet

Posted using ShareThis

I thought this article was best at summing up this phenomenal event that's taken place over the weekend.

The media will go on and on using superlatives like 'crushed' and 'Facebook wins' and all that, but as a true marketer you have to look at this objectively.

What happened: Facebook became the most visited 'standalone' site, above Google. By standalone, I mean more people typed in into their browsers than ''.

This in itself is a phenomenal achievement and will definitely be something the FB guys need to be proud about.

Now, I'll leave you to the article. Enjoy. Share. Socialize.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do event companies in the UAE need to be regulated?

Do we need a regulatory body for the conferences, exhibitions and events industry in the Middle East?

Repeatedly in conversations with various professionals in these industries I've constantly been hearing complaints against the same few companies who are breaking every single law - written and ethical - in the way they do business.

These few - some who've actually been around for a long time, and some fly by night operators who have come into some capital and think 'hey lets open an events company and make some money' - are ruining the market and reputation of this industry for most of us who are actually doing the right thing, both in terms of business quality, quantity, operations and ethics.

Challenges to a regulatory authority that I can think of at the top of my head would be:
Who heads it?
How will the team comprising it be unbiased, as it would have to consist of ex or current events professionals who would obviously be linked to some events firm?
Under which government authority would they come under?
What role and influence - negative or positive - will DWTC and DICC have on this body?
What sort of penalties will be legislated and who enforces it?

Lack of fatigue in the market
Spam control
Quality increase


I'd be interested to know the opinion of other event professionals.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The wonderful world of .ae

So in a nutshell, here's a nice story:

TRA (the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) is faffing about telling everyone with eyes and ears with its bright billboards and in-your-ear radio jingles that .ae is the domain they should consider if they want to have a successful business in the UAE.

It goes: 'If its in the UAE, its got to be .ae'


Anyway, there is a multinational company which uses .ae for its UAE based business, and for the last 5 days, their .ae domain hasn't been working because of a problem at the UAE based ISP.

So nothing, not one single email or their home domain, is working.

I wonder, will the ISP pay for the revenue lost?

The top 5 marketing mistakes of Dubai #4: Stop lying to your staff

There is a culture of self-affirmation which is prevalent in this country and it is at a silly level.

I am going to be very blunt in this post but someone has to say what all others are thinking:

Stop awarding each other with 'best xyz' awards which no one else is competing in!

Every year, you hear of Shaikha X winning Humanitarian of the Year type awards from their fellow UAE nationals.

You'll also hear of the lip-service (which is a silly term to be used in today's innuendo laden English) being given to the oft-touted 'Emiratisation' movement.

This is the government's attempt at ensuring the local i.e. UAE National working-age adults get jobs in roles across industries in the country. Guess what, it ain't happening.

Why? Lets look at this closely:

Total UAE population: 6 million
Total UAE Nationals: 990,000 (although this is disputed given the number of older UAE nationals who refuse to divulge information no the number of females in their homes due to cultural norms)

Lets take away, say, 10% of that number as 'elderly', which leaves us with 891,000.

Take away 20% of them who are below the legal working age of 18, leaving us with 693,000.

Now, take away those UAE nationals who have family businesses, and / or are quite well-off enough to not have to work at all. I'll put this number at 5% not wanting to take a shot in the dark by putting a larger percentage, despite us knowing its probably the case. That leaves us with:


The total number of working expatriots in the UAE is approx. 4 million. Even with the most aggressive Nationalisation scheme, this means they would still only be filling less than 20% of the required number because of nothing other than their total local population.

This doesn't take into account the fact that it seems unfathomable to everyone including UAE nationals that they would want to work in anything other than a job that pays over AED 4,000, which is what a majority of the workforce in the above 4 million earn.

Without benefits.

I've not sidetracked from my reasoning for this post. There are almost 7 different 'localisation' events. One of them is an event I'm marketing myself as well.

These events have been around for almost 5 years at the minimum. Yet, every year there seems to be a problem with Nationalisation and the reasons given by different sources all contradict each other.

However, ONE reason seems to be recurring amongst them all, and has proof to back it up in the form of surveys by reputed firms as well as simple market knowledge and grapevine:

Emirates don't want to work in low paying jobs of long hours and minimal benefits.

In other words: no hard work which makes you sweat.

In more other words: completely the opposite of what the government wants them to do.

So here we are again: with the complete lack of accepting as fact what the consumer really wants i.e. easy, high paying jobs; true, deserving awards to others in the community than Shaikhas; real, visible embracing of human rights, there is a culture of 'if I advertise X enough, no one will notice the 'y'.


Everyone doesn't just see it, they're smelling it. Around the world. And they're not hesitating speaking it.

I would safely say this is one of the biggest mistakes Dubai has made, wherein it has assumed that if they have enough money, they can allow for a culture of sedentary lifestyles to become rampant and they'll simply advertise the highlights enough to allow the brightlights to drown out the darker underbelly.

Lesson: Don't lie to your staff. They have to be convinced that what you're selling is the truth. And it HAS to be the truth. If your property won't be launched for at least a YEAR after the date your salesmen are quoting, put the actual date. Buyers prefer waiting the extra year than finding out later of the delay, and then pulling out, leaving you with nothing instead of something.

Solution for Dubai: set up accountability and transparent employment laws which are implemented. The sooner your National workforce realises that sweating a bit for a lower pay grade has more rewards than money, the sooner they will start building this country even stronger than the Expats have.

And this time, a recession won't crush you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Digital marketing wars between Apple, MS and Google

The Digital Marketing War between Apple, Microsoft and Google

Brilliantly analysed report. Digital marketing's importance put in a very vendor focused way which should make brands stand up and take notice.

My Love for Blogging

My Love for Blogging

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The top 5 marketing mistakes of Dubai #3: No one at Dubai Inc. knew what was going on

The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.

Too many times in companies, the lack of communication between marketing and sales teams and even the management has led to disastrous results in terms of consumer satisfaction.

Marketing copy saying something entirely different to what sales is offering; or the corporate public image is in stark contrast to internal customer services.

This is the issue that has been the ultimate downfall of Dubai: its PR spin could only last so long.

While claiming to offer the best, the brightest, the most luxurious and the biggest, Dubai long kept hidden from prying journos its dark underbelly of human rights violations, deplorable living conditions and utter lack of employee rights.

In a market built, developed and sustained by a workforce never really advertised to the world, soon the bubble of containment had to burst and the spin doctors could do little to control the news in an era of social media, youtube, twitter and WOM.

Financial Times, The Times of London, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg all featured at some point or the other over '08 and'09 varying footage and news reports of the issues mentioned above, from video evidence of living conditions of the construction labourers who build the glittering skyline of Dubai, to expatriates living in their cars due to being evicted from their apartments by fraudulent or greedy landlords who use the loopholes in a property law already having as many holes as a sponge.

In the end, people - both within and without - began to mock what they called the facade of Dubai, and now despite its many efforts to regain its lost glory, it will take more than a few 'oil discovered' news stories to allow people to trust it again.

Lesson: Don't promise something in your marketing unless your entire organisation has been thoroughly informed and trained about the follow-up process once the promise is finally made. A happy customer tells friends how good you are. An upset customer tells everyone he meets. With the social media world we live in, multiply 'everyone he meets' by a few million.

Solution for Dubai: start telling the truth, albeit smartly. The best brands out there don't sugar coat any ugly truth about their brands, in fact they use that to their advantage with smart marketing. You may not win back all the fans, but you'll start getting new, long term ones.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Racing Airplanes

:) Thought I'd make today a little lighter.

Awesome XBox advert!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saudi in focus for digital marketing - Emirates Business 24|7

Saudi in focus for digital marketing - Emirates Business 24|7

Click 4.0's effects as seen on Emirates Business 24/7 newspaper this morning.

Monday, March 1, 2010

3 Out Of 4 Don't trust their friends

3 Out Of 4 Don

Interesting post.

Facebook and Arabic

A few days ago I blogged about my trip to the Facebook Advertising launch with Connect Ads.

I didn't mention one thing which made me wonder if Facebook really is doing its research. I hope Connect Ads corrects Mark Cowan.

During the Q&A session, I asked Mark Cowan and Trevor Johnson if they had any case-studies / research and what their plans are for advertising solutions in Arabic, based on the higher end solutions they're offering.

Mark Cowan's reply made me - and I'm sure many Arabia based marketers in the room - cringe.

He said given that a majority of Facebook users in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East have profile pages in English, Arabic advertising isn't really going to make a big difference.

Forgive my French, but WTH!