Tag Archives: online

Advertising in Lebanon: TV remains n.1 and internet is inexistant!

I just came through this article on the Commerce du Levant website about the advertising spending in September 2010 in Lebanon. These expenses are down 8% from August and 4% compared to September 2009. Despite this slight decline, the third quarter was relatively good with an increase of 8%.

OK advertising is still growing, even if it is growing slowly. But the thing that hit me the most is the fact that there is absolutely no spending for advertising on the web or that it is really really insignificant. Check out this repartition:

As I was wondering about the average time that lebanese people spent watching TV, I guess I have the answer to my deep concern. Television takes it all and it is still the number 1 mass media. Will the web ever kill the TV stars?

Throughout the world, the strong growth of the Internet, and the development of its uses, confirms the mass media crisis (for the press and TV in the first place).
More profoundly, the belief in the mainstream media is dramatically affected by a movement that sees the legitimacy of traditional media organizations disintegrated by a permanent suspicion particularly related to a certain political affiliation.

Considering that a mass media (according to Marshall MacLuhan) is characterized by a communication of one-to many and by a one-side message (the public does not interfere with the message vehicle) we can of course question the belonging of the web to the “mass media” category. The web in its core, and thanks to the massive user generated contents created by the audience via blogs, wikis, social networks etc… creates a new situation: the communication pattern which used to be from one to many (vertical) has completely evolved to many-to-many (horizontal).

My main point here is that these new models of direct production of information are drawing an innovative media landscape, and advertising investments should definitely be following this trend.

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The “new” communication strategies of Lebanese banks…

In retail banking, the communication strategy of credit institutions is facing new challenges. Beyond the cyclical impact of the crisis, new ways to “consume” banking seem to emerge. Lebanese banks should definitely start thinking how to redirect their traditional communication campaigns and tools.

Communication strategies are usually required to follow the development of new technologies that impact the consumers’ behavior. All around the world, it has even become common to use the Internet or mobile phone for banking transactions.

However, in Lebanon, we are still at, lets say, stage 1 (or you can call it web 1), where banks’ certainly do have websites (at least…) but where these websites are definitely in need of some renewal or should I say revitalization. Let’s take a quick look on what is out there:

Remarquable Design on « Microsoft Paint » for SGBL

 

Moderate-purple static inkblot for Byblos Bank

 

Rather kitsch animation and pixelized logo for Crédit Libanais

Strictness and severity for Bank Audi

Kind of appealing and dynamic home-page for FNB

(but don’t bother clicking to see what’s behind the images)

A bit of interactivity but lots of ambition for BLF

(these guys are great: they have even created a Facebook Page, a channel on Youtube and a group on Linkedin and everything is actually linked to their website!! :p )

So even if all the major Lebanese banks have created web portals, they are far (faaaaaaaar) from being present in all territories that new technologies have created. These territories include new audiences generated by social networks that are growing surprisingly.

The challenge for the banking sector lies in the conquest of these new spaces and the seduction of their audiences.

In this context, banks should be wondering about new ways to attract and develop customer’s loyalty. Communication campaigns based on a general message and distributed exclusively through television and advertising are no longer covering the entire customer base and have stopped responding to the changing selection criteria. The « revival », (which is starting to emerge with BLF’s campaign around « Ambitions »), should be structured around 2 main axes:

First, banks should start positioning themselves on the new audiences crossroads that are distinct and separate from traditional media’s audience. Social networks are new contact points banks need to exploit. These channels should be progressively integrated to communication strategies because they allow banks to be visible among a population of Young adults, which is a particularly attractive target for banks. But beyond visibility, these new means of communication offer the opportunity to interact directly with customers.

Secondly, banks should really be thinking about developing real branding strategies, stop acting like companies only and start acting like real « brands ». While they have almost all a very strong reputation, only a few banks have managed to build a strong identity around specific and distinctive attributes easily identifiable by the client. The promotion of a brand is only possible if it is linked with a promise and values that are in line with customer expectations. In this framework, communication actions taken by banks should above all, relay and make the brand promise more credible.

In this era, consumer’s behavior and clients fields of expression have radically changed. So why not use the web to set the tone for a new more collaborative customer relationship?

Online Marketing and Advertising: Why is it growing slowly in Lebanon?

online

Online advertising is still in double digit growth worldwide: after a 19% growth in 2008 and a 9% growth in 2009 (yes it is due to the crisis and NOT to the market saturation) worldwide online advertising growth is expected to reach 11% in 2010 (according to e-Marketer). So yes, the spending on online advertising is very healthy ($64.69 billion).

Online advertising and communication include many frameworks. Whether it is to create a website, an online newsletter, to launch banners on many existing online sources (newsmagazines, diverse websites, social networks…) or to monitor what is being said about your brand on social media and to engage online communities in your brand’s (or company’s) project, online media are very efficient (if not the MOST efficient) when to comes to acknowledging reputation (by mastering word-of-mouth), targeting people according to their interests, and measuring the impact of your campaign, especially for small businesses (contrary to what one may think)

But why are we still behind in Lebanon?

There are about 1 570 000 internet users in Lebanon today (for a population of 4 million people) against 950 000 in 2007 according to Internet World Stats. Despite this growth of 65%, the online advertising market is still behind especially compared to other forms of advertising. It appears that one of the main reasons comes from the advertising agencies themselves that are still reticent which is why they do not always include an online section part of the global strategies they sell to their clients.

Why? Simply because there are two types of clients: the ones who have caught the importance of being present online, because their marketing executives are young and they were born with the digital era, and the ones who still don’t see the interest in converting to these new forms of marketing because the traditional means are enough for them. They do not understand that internet is the unique mass media allowing a direct interaction between the brands and their consumers. Will all lebanese based advertising agencies will be able to sell cross-media campaigns to their clients when it is the right thing to do?

The main obstacle to an unstoppable growth of online advertising strategies in Lebanon is essentially (and unfortunately) structural. It comes, and it is no surprise for anyone, from the underdeveloped telecommunications facilities. Without the appropriate infrastructure, internet will never become common practice whether it is for the ad agencies, their clients or the consumers.

The explosion of the number of Lebanese on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter  and the emergence of bloggers and other digital influencers talking about subjects other than politics as well as the majority of newsmagazines going (or growing) online is, without any doubt, the main signal that the Lebanese audience is ready, not only for online advertising, but most certainly for a web 2.0 revolution.

Let’s just hope that broadband won’t be arriving very late…