JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY© Getty Images                 16 I Communicate Levant
COVER STORY | JUNE 2011Do Jordanians dream ofelectric sheep?How one country strives to stand out in the regions digital la...
JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY                                                                                                   ...
COVER STORY | JUNE 2011campaigns to clients. However, it shouldn’t be thecase. There should be specialized digital agen-ci...
JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY© Getty Images                                                        Ramzy Halaby, business develo...
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Jordan digital cover story, June 2011


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A feature on Jordan's future with digital media. June 2011. Published by Communicate magazine - Levant.

Quote: Clients need to understand that their target groups are talking about them; whether they have online presence or not. It is not the new guerrilla in space that cannot be controlled, it is the rising need to let go of classic schools of marketing and prepare to enter this rewarding
ambiance by adopting rigid internal communications
and crisis management programs", Wael M. Barghouti. Head of Business Development, Insight Group

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Jordan digital cover story, June 2011

  1. 1. JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY© Getty Images 16 I Communicate Levant
  2. 2. COVER STORY | JUNE 2011Do Jordanians dream ofelectric sheep?How one country strives to stand out in the regions digital landscape by Samer ZouehidT he online future in the region may not be a new piece of software or a social network site, but acountry. Something interesting has been happening digital generation into the crowning glory of its workforce. And investment in youth’s digital po- tential is starting to pay off. Not only are public blogging website. And Jordan was also the first market to introduce really localized online tar- geting; Jordanians are close to the region, theyin Jordan, and as a new generation of user-friendly authorities heavily involved in supporting the digital understand it well.Jordanians enter the work force, it might not be industry, but the private sector is also doing its One of the main reasons for this is the people.too long before we see them leading the digital part and big regional companies are offering their Jordan is a big students country, a high percentagemarket, like they used to 10 years ago. expertise to nurture Jordanian talent. of the population is made up of students, a lot of Figures on Jordan’s Internet penetration tell However, while the blueprints are in place, there whom have a strong interest in IT, the Interneta story heard all over the region. The Internet is evidence that companies are slow to embrace and digital technologies, and are tech-savvy. Thispenetration rate is still quite low – at 27 percent the new power dynamic, and the foundations for a talent and this eagerness to grow have paved the– but it has been growing steadily and rapidly, solid local digital market have yet to be laid. The way for other players in the region.”standing at 17 percent at the end of 2007 and then industry is still waiting for planning permission20.5 percent at the end of the first half of 2008, from clients to build the sector. Below, we look Nicolas Geahchan, executive creative director, JWTaccording to the Jordanian Telecommunications at developments, trends, issues and changes that “Jordan has all of the right ingredients to lead theRegulatory Commission. Plans are to reach 50 will shape Jordan’s digital future. region: it has one of the best and most affordablepercent by the end of 2011, but things may move Internet services regionally, fair Internet penetra-even faster as more people take to the streets and ON WHY JORDAN’S DIGITAL INDUSTRY SHOULDN’T tion among the population, and the right talent andare followed not only by the security apparatus, BE OVERLOOKED knowledge available in the market.”but by an increasing number of people on Twit- Dana Adhami, director digital, Mindshareter. This growing movement of people using the “The whole digital scene in the region started in Wisam Suheimat, managing director, Memac AdvizeInternet is bound to induce a shift in Jordanian the early 2000s when the dot-coms began to boom, “The entire range of sophistication is there, fromconsumer behavior. and Jordan was the first country in the region to simple banners to viral campaigns, UGC and even Jordanians footprints are visible on a large start building its own infrastructure, with many CRM and loyalty programs using smart phones,number of regional campaigns and online brands online ventures establishing their hub there. location-based promotions, online advergamingthat were developed in Jordan. The kingdom has In the past five years, Jordan was also the and the full range of using social networking asquickly, and as early as 10 years ago, caught onto country from where some of the most innovative a platform to promote and engage with brands.the fact that it has a new natural resource – its digital ventures came, in terms of content and We also have numerous companies developingtech-savvy, vast digital natives community – so communication; Maktoob, which was the first to and launching smart phone apps for brands thatit is putting programs in place to turn this new offer e-mails in Arabic, or Jeeran, the first Arabic have been pioneering and are quite sophisticated.” Communicate Levant I 17
  3. 3. JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY Wael Barghouti, head of business development, Insight Group Jordan “There is a framework to nurture vibrant yet inter- nationally competitive professionals. According to Int@j, Jordan’s Information Technology As- sociation, the National ICT strategy (2007-2011) was created to take advantage of new markets, enhancing business maturity, investing in research and development, capitalizing on regional demand, cultivating foreign investment and improving the ICT labor market. Annual sector growth has risen to an estimated 50 percent over the past few years, its generated income representing 12 percent of the countrys GDP. There is an optimistic determi- nation not only to position Jordan as the regions ICT hub, but to also service regional markets.” Dana Adhami, director digital, Mindshare “The Jordanian government is building the infra- structure and is supportive, but to become a tech- nological hub, being a good coder is not enough. A country also needs to have the right economy and attractive infrastructure. The support is there, but© Getty Images for some reason, it’s not picking up as it should; maybe because much talent moves to the GCC. If the official 27 percent Internet penetration rate is a reality, it contradicts what the government Sinan Gharaibeh, creative director, Insight Group Jordan is doing and students’ aspirations. It shows that “I think it is a matter of time before Jordan reaches people in Jordan are not really adopting what the the peak of its digital creativity. Jordan was home government is trying to do. Something is missing to some unique successes such as Maktoob [the or maybe it’s just being delayed.” Amman-based portal and first Arabic/English e-mail provider, since purchased by Yahoo]. The country ON HOW ADVERTISING AGENCIES APPROACH is proactive and adapts quickly to new technolo- DIGITAL IN JORDAN gies. We have creative talent supported by proper Joelle Jammal, managing director, Leo Burnett Jordan technical education and liberal culture. It is worth “All Burnetters have regular training in online noting that Jordanian creativity has its flavor for digital marketing; moreover, all are encouraged sense of humor such as 3azizi and Emad Hajjaj [a to partake in social networking and micro blog- famous Jordanian cartoonist], which are exported ging services such as Twitter, and we even have to regional markets.” our own virtual Leo Burnett building in Second Life. Furthermore, we have access to Huddle and Joelle Jammal, managing director, Leo Burnett Jordan Notepad, a collaboration tool used across offices “Jordan is one of the top five with regards to Internet in the Middle East and North Africa. Extensive usage, while the UAE is leading the way in digital case studies and success stories on digital mar- marketing. The driving force behind this is the large keting are available from around the world. And youth demographic found in Jordan and the Internet this on its own is a wealth of information and a advanced services offered in the kingdom. Digital learning well. This is in addition to our LB MENA marketing in Jordan is driven by social networks. blog, where Burnetters share ideas, thoughts, get Jordan has influential bloggers who have blogs visited inspired by one another.” by thousands of people every day, covering subjects about different aspects of life, from news to society, Nicolas Geahchan, executive creative director, JWT business, fashion... This has become a successful “It is our role as agencies to come to our clients SINAN GHARAIBEH. tool to promote Jordan, its culture, tradition, values with appropriate digital proposals. A way to do it is Creative director, Insight Group Jordan and, most importantly, its people.” to answer the clients’ needs in ‘traditional media’ and unlock the power of the same idea ‘online’ ON THE IMPORTANCE OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT through interactive content that champions the Wisam Suheimat, managing director, Memac Advize user’s experience – making the most out of the “Jordan has dozens of IT universities and for the latest digital channels (social media, geo-location, past 11 years, His Majesty King Abdullah has been augmented reality, Web and mobile applications, very keen and active in developing a strong founda- hardware innovation, etcetera).” tion for a digital economy. Unlike Dubai, where a vast majority of professionals working in the digital Sinan Gharaibeh, creative director, Insight Group Jordan sphere are not Arabs and a large number of back-end “There is a glitch in agencies’ structure. We have development is outsourced to countries such as India seen it before in some offerings and are now JOELLE JAMMAL. and Eastern Europe, Jordan provides a bilingual seeing it again when it comes to ‘do it all’. Ad- Managing director, Leo Burnett Jordan focus and deep understanding of the Arab mindset.” vertising agencies tend to design and sell digital 18 I Communicate Levant
  4. 4. COVER STORY | JUNE 2011campaigns to clients. However, it shouldn’t be thecase. There should be specialized digital agen-cies as it is totally different in strategies, tacticsand execution. There should be a differentia-tion between conventional advertising agenciesand specialized digital outlets. Some agenciessurvive on Web designs and sell themselves asdigital agencies. This harms the market ratherthan support it.”Dana Adhami, director digital, Mindshare“A lot of the online business has moved to Dubaiand the GCC, with the increasing number of play-ers entering the digital industry leading to a veryfragmented market; so it has become harder forJordanians to shine as media providers. “And as agencies, we have to pick the best ofthe best for our clients. If we have to compare,Lebanon, for example, seems far ahead of Jordan.Maybe their work is simply not exposed enough.Because Jordan is still doing very well, particularlyon the programming and creative sides. When wework on websites, microsites and so on, Jordanian © Getty Imagesagencies usually come back with a lot of innova-tive ideas and a solid approach in terms of Webdesign and architecture. Jordanians are not onlyinnovative on the media side of things, but also GETTING CONNECTED. Clients need to be present online, says Wael Barghoution the creative and technical ones.” social media and service rather than on boughtON CONSUMER BEHAVIOR SHIFT media such as display advertising or paid search.”Wael Barghouti, head of business development,Insight Group Jordan Dana Adhami, director of digital, Mindshare“We are witnessing a major shift in consumer “On the clients’ side, the problem with Jordan isbehaviors, Internet habits, content preferences the same as with any other country in the region.and digital media buying strategies. It is similar Readiness is there, Jordan is being included into how puzzling Arab revolts are as social me- all big FMCG players’ plans, but there’s noth-dia platforms and their endless opportunities for ing specific to it yet. All of the big players arebusiness offerings are keeping companies and located in Dubai and they will target Jordan, butagencies puzzled on how to best utilize such op- only as part of their regional mix. The next stepportunities. Jordan is witnessing a Web boom would be a more localized approach, and it needsas per latest TGI [Target Group Index] surveys to take place, but that’s true for many countriesconducted by PARC. The Internet penetration in the region, not only Jordan. Besides, Jordanstats are impressive across the region. is a small market; there are no important local Jordan’s Internet penetration stands at 2.3 players to build a local industry on.”million users in the first quarter of 2011. This isattributed to the increase of Internet penetration Wael Barghouti, head of business development,following the uprising and Arab revolutions in Insight Group Jordanthe first quarter. We saw thousands of regional “Clients need to understand that if they are notindividuals joining Twitter since the January 25 present online, be it through online buying orrevolution took place. News websites have attracted social media platforms, these are opportuni-more than 100 thousand followers on Twitter alone ties lost. Consumers are out there. Whether thesince January 25. Jordan’s share from Facebook company is present or not, they are talkingpenetration averages 0.22 percent from global about your services and products. We have seen NICOLAS GEAHCHAN.audiences (1,473,080 as of May 3, 2011).” the banking sector being the most resistant to Executive creative director, JWT enter the online platform. They fear that some-ON CLIENTS CHANGE OF PERCEPTION OF THE one would write something and harm theDIGITAL REALM bank’s reputation. Again, consumers are talk-Joelle Jammal, managing director, Leo Burnett Jordan ing about whether you have good services and“We still experience much smaller percentages products or not.allocated to digital marketing in comparison to Such clients need to understand that it is not thewhat is spent on ATL, BTL or relationship market- new guerilla in space that cannot be controlled,ing. Clients still do not allocate enough funds for it is the rising need to let go of classic schoolsthis; nevertheless, it is finally seeing a significant of marketing and prepare to enter this reward-increase spend for ‘brand’ reasons rather than direct ing ambience by adopting rigid internal com-response to sales and other ‘hard’ metrics. The munications and crisis management programs. WISAM SUHEIMAT.spend is focused increasingly on content, apps, This requires a cultural shift.” Managing director, Memac Advize Communicate Levant I 19
  5. 5. JUNE 2011 | COVER STORY© Getty Images Ramzy Halaby, business development director and creative and sophisticated developers in town sup- co-founder, The Online Project (a social network ported by creative and liberal culture, paves the way marketing company) for Jordan to become one of the most promising “Towards the end of 2010, The Online Project no- digital hubs. The Web series Shankaboot winning the ticed a more serious commitment from companies first International Digital Emmy Award for Lebanon and brands to invest in social media ad spend and for the category of digital program in fiction does presence through engagement. We are currently not mean that Jordan cannot or does not compete in working in partnership with Royal Jordanian, this area as well. There are a number of graduates Zain, the Arab Bank and Mercedes on their social from specialized film institutions that have embraced networking presence and channels. I find Jordan’s the Web series as part of their one-year program.” strength is in the talent it has – the advantage of its high quality talent at competitive rates. Jordan can Ramzy Halaby, business development director and be the region’s development and operation hub for co-founder, The Online Project digital companies and technology services com- “We are expecting to have more than 100 million DANA ADHAMI. panies. For us at The Online Project, we definitely Arab users online by 2015. A third of the population Director digital, Mindshare see an advantage in building our operational hub in the Arab World is under 14, these guys are all go- in Jordan where capacity is scaled. We currently ing to consume digital content and use the Internet. have a team of 40 in the Jordan office, such as com- These numbers are very strong indicators of where munity managers, content team, moderation team, the digital industry is heading in the MENA region. ” developers and designers. Our Dubai and Riyadh offices are more business-development and client Dana Adhami, director digital, Mindshare servicing focused.” “I’m very curious to see what is going to happen following the revolutions in the region, what we Wisam Suheimat, managing director, Memac Advize call a ‘Tunisami’ effect, because it started in Tu- “Jordan definitely has the infrastructure, the people, nis and acted as a tsunami. This all started with the desire. We just dont have the mega budgets that digital at its core. It’s still too early to tell; yes, WAEL BARGHOUTI. Head of business clients in the GCC might have. But a large number the number of people going online is increasing, development, Insight Group Jordan of very successful digital agencies and specialists but how these people will interact with brands is have been serving the region for more than 15 years. still unclear. There will be a major change for sure, The relative stability (social, political and economic) online users are going to get more involved, while of Jordan has encouraged many companies to set up until now they mostly wanted to be entertained. up their regional headquarters in Jordan and this Now they are learning to participate, so this will will go a long way to bolster the digital sector out lead to more engagement and participation. This of Jordan.” will be even stronger in Jordan because of its high student population. Every time we launch a digital ON THE FUTURE OF ONLINE COMMUNICATION campaign that includes Jordan, the highest response, IN JORDAN the highest click rate already comes from there. At Wael Barghouti, head of business development, Insight a 27 percent Internet penetration rate, Jordan still RAMZY HALABY. Group Jordan has not reached critical mass, but in a year’s time, it Business development director “I am confident that a number of projects will come will probably be a huge player, as a content provider and co-founder, The Online Project to life within a few years. The potential of having and as a technological provider.” 20 I Communicate Levant