The internet has turned the world of advertising-propelled audience expectation to an all-time high.
This, in turn, has resulted in keeping online pioneers busy exercising their right brains to meet and satisfy these expectations.
Internet reach and usage shows us that, in just five years, it can achieve what radio took 38 years and TV 13 years.
The past few years have seen great online achievements and have set a kind of annual ‘huge success’ story, resulting in a big name or service that gets treated like a big Hollywood celebrity: Flickr.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, etc.
Given that competition levels direct and indirect are being boosted where there is high competition, there is definitely a pressing need for difference and competitive advantage.
In the online world this translates to: viral and creative campaigns.
The collective online creative efforts gave birth to what we call Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is basically a platform that encourages UGC and interactivity, allowing the migration of this content through different channels: hence mobile and TV.
So how does all this impact on the Middle East?
The challenge here is even bigger. Online creativity is not optional. It is mandatory, given the highly conservative culture and the social structure.
Sometimes there is a need to promote hair products without showing hair, skin cleansers without showing skin, or even fashion without showing models.
Adapting Web 2.0 practices UGC and social interaction has to be done carefully to avoid becoming banned by the ISP, particularly if it starts generating dating services and politically-opinionated groups.
If the site happens to be branded with your corporate logo good luck. Your corporation will still make all the front pages and news headlines, but from a totally different perspective.
The rise of community living and social interaction with expatriates in the region, is pushing the market to be totally consumer driven, especially online where monitoring is easy and possible.
This adds one more element to the campaign formula: the need to target a hybrid audience, and deliver the same message in an appealing manner to all.
It is not as complicated as it may seem. Basically, all people go online for the same set of reasons: to socialise, read emails, conduct business, express themselves freely and have fun.
Then the challenge really begins because once you find them, how will you get them to engage your website? Microsite? Banners?
First before you do anything you really need to manage expectations. The internet is so dynamic and interactive that you need to be really creative to get these clicks.
Any click-through rate that exceeds 1% in this industry is an achievement.
How can this be realized?
It really depends on the choices you make. You should correctly locate your audience and drive your message to relate to this audience. So, be relevant.
After you define your audience and set your message, you need to go the whole nine yards by giving value to your online campaigns, value-in, value-out, garbage-in garbage-out, as simple as that.
Carry your brand guidelines online to achieve the same presence you have offline: achieving a consistent online identity is a big success factor.
Plus, in the interactive channel, with some creativity, you can deliver the brand attributes that you try to convey to your audience in print and offline advertising.
An ideal online campaign mix can be divided into two phases: preparation and execution.
Both of these are creative-hungry.
To prepare you need to:
In execution, you need to select your channels correctly based on your campaign needs: banners, mailouts, sponsorships, website, a microsite or a combination of some or all.
The current dominant approach in today’s online advertising is banner campaigns supported by a web or microsite.
Banners have evolved a great deal in the last year, and will continue to do so.
One reason is the intensity of portals online that pushes the effective to avoid excessive advertising, keeping a positive user experience on the site: hence limited spots and impressions served per day.
This has brought about the use of several technologies.
Video Banners: These allow banners to stream video. They have been very successful, especially with the current broadband penetration and the fact that advertisers have ready-to-use TVCs.
Dynamic Banners. These allow banners to read from live online sources/feeds, which keep them dynamically updated in realtime.
Expandable Banners: allowing banners to expand from their initial borders, which give more space to achieve impact, more interactivity, and attract more attention.
The enforced banners are declining like pop-up banners that are now automatically blocked by browsers, and overlay banners that irritate consumers so much that they close them straight away.
Personalised Banners: These allow banners to address the audience by name, literally call their names, when they are logged in to portals.
To sum up, there is a high demand for creativity online, because people simply do not care about your websites or banners.
The online clutter and a conservative Middle Eastern society makes things more challenging for creative designers and planners,.
It obliges them to be extremely creative and different to generate user interest in their banners or websites.
To achieve online success, you need to think out of the box, be relevant and develop a work platform.