Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dubai New Year Parties Cancelled

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has ordered cancellation of all the New Year Celebrations in Dubai. This decision has been taken due to latest fight at the Gaza strip between Palestine and Israel. Check out this news posted on the official website of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum declaring the cancellation of the celebrations.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Social Media Measurement Bubble

Further to the previous post on Social Media Measurement, the six steps can be combined into the following model:- 1. Attention/Analytics: Standard web metrics as mentioned in the previous post, are applicable to websites as well.
2. Participation/Reaction: This indicates the extent to which users’ engage themselves with the content on a particular platform. The engagement can be in the form of comments, scraps, posts, rating etc.
3. Authority/Connection: Fetching inbound links, trackbacks, pings to a blog or sites.
4. Influence: Viral, word of mouth, spread, user base, followers, subscribers
5. Emotions/Sentiments/Relationship:user loyalty, attachment, enthusiasm etc

The five factors sum up the metrics of measuring social media. But this is not one-size-fits-all sorts of model, it varies depending on the type of company/organisation, its SM goals, budget, objective and intention. It depends on the factors that go behind the social media campaign and the weightage assigned to each of the bubble changes. In total it should sum up to 100%.

There are a few who are not concerned about "attention" i.e. page views that a site/blog generates. They would typically be focused on ensuring subscription of their RSS feeds, or any other application on the website.

Hence, marketers should carefully set out their objectives and then select appropriate metrics to ROI.

This entry is posted by - Isha Shah (S.P.Jain Global MBA - Marketing alumni and an avid Social Media Marketer). She can be reached through mail at:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Measuring Social Media Marketing

Social media is a conversation powered by various Web 2.0 platforms. It is a conversation that takes place between Customers, Marketers, Employees, and Investors and web surfers. Social Media as a conversation is not organized, controlled or in a form of an advertisement. It is dynamic, vibrant, emergent, compelling, insightful and of course full of fun! One needs to engage in the conversation by being listening, contributing, and participation. Hence, Social Media Marketing (SMM) is not just a medium of communication but a place for marketers to understand its target audience.

There are majorly six steps to measuring social media marketing for any brand, personality or individuals and that is:

1)Setting the objectives: The SMM goals will be different for every business or organization, SMM can - create brand awareness or build idea, increase visibility, leverage existing social media sites to the company’s advantage, help in Creating a multi-pronged marketing strategy
attract & Motivate through Potential Customer Experience etc.

Make is measurable, set appropriate deadlines, set the kind of changes in attitude and behavior that is expected, output & outcomes. One thing that many digital marketers face difficulty is in measurement and the first step to measure is to set RIGHT objectives. The objectives should be in the interest of the organisation and community.

2) Determining metrics of measurements
Relationships: Quality, mutual trust, conversation index, power of influence, etc
Analytics Outcomes: Benefits, costs and risks.

3) Defining Stakeholders

4) Benchmarking against competition

5) Selection of measurement tool : Various free and paid tools are readily available in the market such as Omniture, Google Analytics, Radian 6, SEER, Jeremiah’ list, Buzz Logic, The CGM Dashboard, Alexa,, Veoh, Feedburner, Quantcast, Yahoo pipes etc. They measure the following statistics but the list is endless:
>Number of unique users, participation & engagement, returning v/s new readers, referring traffic, Google page rank, links from other sites, page views etc

6) Analysis and Re-strategize
Using the tools a SM marketer can analyse the position of the campaigns and then decide if it’s worth the money. The ROI calculation becomes very important in this case nevertheless, social media definitely has long term returns. ROI can be calculated keeping account of expenses such as Cost of campaigns+ media expenses + no. of responses

This entry is posted by - Isha Shah (S.P.Jain Global MBA - Marketing alumni and an avid Social Media Marketer). She can be reached through mail at:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sharjah Taxi Chaos..

You must be aware that passengers need to pay an additional fare of AED 20 to travel from Sharjah to Dubai in a Sharjah Taxi from Dec 1. This is an effort to compensate the taxi drivers (and empty wallets of the public) for their time lost in the traffic jams. Not surprisingly some of the taxi meters are yet to be updated with the new charges. Today I had taken a taxi from Sharjah to Al Qusais and when I asked the driver about the new rule; to my surprise he was not aware of this. Luckily, I did not have to pay the extra charges as the taxi meter was yet to be updated, but this shows the lack of communication between the taxi drives and the authorities, which is frustrating for the public. I fail to understand who will be getting the additional bucks – the drivers or the transport authority? Does AED 20 justify for the time lost traffic jams and for the people who commute regularly in a taxi?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Emirates ID Card

Emirates ID Card registration has been a hot topic amongst the expats for the past few weeks. The local papers have recently reported that expats can register after 31 Dec 2008 without attracting any penalty. Click on this link to check the Emirate ID Registration Schedule.The plan is to use Emirates ID card to store info for the following cards/services: -

• Labor Card.
• Health Card and Health Insurance card.
• Electronic Portfolio.
• Commercial and Banking applications
• Driving License.
• Passport.

Few questions arise : -

¨ I hope this means in future as expats we don’s have to issue Labor Card, Driving License, Health cards etc ever again as we will renew Emirates ID every year.
¨ Will there be any major issues if one doesn’t register on time? Rumors are that you will not be allowed to stay in the country. Check out this link which explains the consequences of not registering for Emirate ID by 2010.

Easy steps on how to "register" for Emirate ID Card.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google plans to pre-install Chrome on computers

Dear Friends,

The search giant looks at pre-installing Chrome on personal computers by probably doing distribution deals. Google wants to break the monopoly of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. You have to agree that both the companies are fighting a war in the virtual world even though they may not be officially accepting it. Google has tried to enter most of the markets where Microsoft has a strong hold. The VP of Product Mgmt at Google says, "Versions of Chrome should also be available of computers using Macintosh or Linux software in the first half of next year, allowing the browser to be used on almost 99 per cent of computers worldwide.” Google is trying to do a 360 degree sweep in the market. Chrome is still in its beta phase and once the perfect/enhanced version is launched they may give Microsoft run for its money. What Microsoft did to Netscape, will Chrome be able do to Microsoft? History may repeat itself. We'll have to watch out Google's strategy and product offering; hope it doesn't turn out to be a fake promise. IE's popularity remains strong and it will take time for Google to catch up with Microsoft on this front.

One Minute Answer....

Dear Friends,

Are you experiencing credit crises at your homes? We would like to hear from you..

Friday, November 14, 2008

Credit Crisis Hits UAE

We were almost getting into it but now it is too late to realize that we are already a part of it. Yes, global crises are definitely impacting all the countries in the world and UAE is no exception. The property boom is no longer there. I have come to know from my friends who work in the property industry that their sales figures are certainly down and targets are difficult to achieve. Many speculators are finding it difficult to put up their property for sale as there are no buyers in the market. The Financial and Property sector fears job losses. Some of the facts and rumors taking rounds in the market: -

1) Dubai based Damac Property has laid of more than 200+ staff
2) Lloyds has stopped loans for purchase of apartments and dropped its LTV ratio on villas in the UAE to 50 per cent.
3) HSBC has doubled its minimum salary requirement for a personal loan from Dh 10,000 to Dh20,000.
4) Most of the brokers and property developers are planning to lay off hundreds of staff as part of their cost cutting measures
5) Tatweer has had several job cuts
6) Emirates NBD has suspended retail credit to expatriate employees of few real estate firms
7) Most of the banks have frozen their recruitment drive
8) Most of the property developers have rescheduled their upcoming projects
9) Property prices may fall rock bottom
10) There is a speculation that most of the westerners who are loosing jobs may rush to the Middle East for job search; which will lead to further competition for the existing jobs.

Irrespective of these crises I believe UAE economy is strong and the government has taken measures to contain the crises. The impact is due to global recession and not due to the weak economy of UAE. UAE government has committed Dh 120 billion in liquidity to the banking system to ease the liquidity situation. Due to lack of transparency we don’t know if any bank has utilized these funds. Once again I believe it’s a mental game; if we all feel that nothing is going to go wrong and continue to live a normal life, we’ll successfully pass this phase.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to become the President of USA

Essential requirements to become the President of USA: -

Officially you need to be a native born US citizen, you must be at least 35 years old, and you must have lived in US for at least 14 years. You may read more about this on
Post meeting the the above official requirements, the following needs to be done to produce an effective online campaign for the election in the present Web 2.0 boom: -

1) Run online campaigns to target various voter segments from young to old.

2) Ensure you have a some rich tycoons to support your campaign

3) Spend $ 8 million dollars online to promote yourself on the web - spend include $3.5 million on campaign at Google and $600k on Yahoo

4) Spend around half a million on social networking sites : -
a. $400k on Facebook
b. Run a campaign on & (if you are a black candidate)
c. Spend remaining budgets on My Space and other networking sites
5) Ensure you have a profile on Linked in to attract the professionals
6) In-game advertising- place ads in Burnout Paradise one of the games produced by EA Games
7) Reach out to various ad networks like AOL's, Collective Media and online video networks like Broadband Enterprises, Tremor Media etc.

8) Ensure your ads are well targeted and pass the right message :-
a. Customize campaign for different states
b. Different tailored messages during the start of the elections
c. Just before the election run a campaign “Register to Vote for Change,"

Above all you need to be Barack Hussein Obama :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Online Expression of Credit Crisis

Whilst the entire world is being engulfed into the credit crisis, let’s have a look at how have people expressed their opinion about the crisis online. In the past few weeks the US government has been debating on the bail out plan for the financial organizations. I am sure most of us read/hear about this bail out plan at various news channels. Check out these sites which are yelling about the bail out plan "No Wall Street Bail Out and "Stop the Housing Bail Out". The sites are being hit by thousands of online users, where by people have expressed their thoughts and opinion on the current credit crisis.

I had to Google to find out this link about a "radio show" being run on the current credit crisis. It gives you an understanding of why were so many people lent money without checking their credit history.

The credit crisis exposure of UAE Banks has been limited so far. The government has assured to take the guarantee of the deposits in the local banks. Moreover lack of transparency may also give us a feeling that we are in safe hands. UAE Central Bank had asked the bank’s to declare their exposure to the Lehman bankruptcy, but so far none of them have made any public announcement. Check out this "article" which gives some insight into the issue faced by the UAE banks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Do Clicks Really Matter ?

One of the ways to measure the success of an online campaign is the number of times the campaign banners were clicked. We then have to measure the CTR (Click through Rate) of the campaign to measure its success.

CTR = No of Clicks /No of Impressions

Does the higher number of clicks justify the success of a campaign? An online campaign is needed to spread awareness which can ultimately lead to sales. Some online campaigns are purely meant for awareness while other’s prompt the user to click on the banner ads, which direct them to a landing page that has a list of the products available for sale. Internet has come a long way from Web 1.0 to evolving Web 3.0. Yes, we can associate these trends with the following terms: -

Web 1.0 = Content
Web 2.0 = Conversation
Web 3.0 = Convergence

I feel its all about Conversation. As a product manager if you are successful in speaking to your online audience in their language, you have won half the battle. You need to help the internet user understand what he/she can expect post clicking an interactive banner. If the expectations are not met in the first few seconds, you have lost your prospective internet partner. You need to develop more interactive ads to get the attention of the person viewing the ad. Next time tips on what can be done to develop interactive ads and get user’s to engage with your brand.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cost per Engagement

We have heard about CPC (Cost per Click) and CPM (Cost per Mille) as existing forms of ROI in online
advertising. Recently a new form of online advertising is evolving called Cost per Engagement (CPE). This form of advertising allows the web user to take complete control of what they wanna watch on the web. Traditionally we have tried to encourage ((or forced) users to click or view our banners. As per a research conducted by Nielson most pages are viewed for less than two minutes. User sessions may have become shorter and shorter but have definitely increased. Looking at the above graph we can see the comparison between 3 of the most known social networking sites. The number of minutes spent on a website by an average user is trending southward for the list websites except for Facebook. If we calculate the number of minutes spent by an average user per day on each of these sites it averages to approximately 0.46 minutes per day. The traditional form of online advertising doesn’t guarantee user engagement. We would not know if the user was genuinely interested in the ad offering and did he actually view or click the ad. CPE encourages the user to engage with the brand and learn about the product. Again you have few seconds to get the attention of the user on the website to encourage him to interact with the ad for a longer period. In this form of advertising users will definitely cooperate as they have the controls. An advertiser will get genuine customers who may be interested in the product offering. Check out this video which explains the CPE concept.
One of the companies that offer this form of advertising is VideoEgg . It reaches about 50 million users per month, is a leading ad provider to social media sites like Bebo, MySpace and Meebo. It is also one of the most popular ad providers for Facebook application pages.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday - the Death Day

The traffic jams are worse on a Sunday (the first day of the week here in UAE) at the Dubai Sharjah highway. I fail to understand that if almost the same numbers of people travel every day, why is Sunday the death day? Motorists dread the day when accidents happen, because it means that they are stuck in traffic even longer.

Some of my friends had the following reasons for Sunday traffic chaos: -

1) After a long weekend people tend to wake up late, hence this results in traffic jams.
2) It’s first day of the week so you can expect traffic
3) There are many school buses that cause the traffic (C’mon same no. of buses are there on the roads for the remaining 5 days)

On the contrary some of them say it’s Sunday and all of us know that there will be traffic chaos, so they prefer leaving a little early.

Well, of some of them leave a little early while other’s leave late, then why do we have the jams on Sunday?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Arab Youth in the Digital World

Staying in the Gulf, I interact with the citizens of various GCC countries in Dubai on a regular basis. I was wondering how different the culture amongst the youth of the Arab world is? For some people the picture is entirely different and I don’t wanna start a debate on this. The Arab youth like any other young generation is expressive. They are very active in social media, blogs, graffiti etc. The youth are very proud of their culture and prefer wearing their national dress to express their individuality. They are very expressive online in the form of blogs. Try googling the word Saudi Blog and you would find 17 million entries. Saudi government was so impressed, rather annoyed by the art and craft done by kids on public property that they decided to dedicate a graffiti park for the artists. More and more youths are on Arabic chat sites expressing themselves in their code language “Arabizi”.
Middle East makes 2.5% of the total internet users (December 07') in the world as per “World Internet Stats”. Many of the youths are now uploading videos on Youtube trying to express themselves and correct their society’s image which has been ruined by the media. Check out this video found online.The Real Arabs

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Earthquake in UAE (Dubai)

Attention Attention - UAE was rocked by few tremors today at around 03:08 p.m. These tremors are a knock on effect of the powerful earthquake that occurred in Bandar Abbas, Iran. measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale. The quake sent a wave of panic among the residents of Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai. Most of the high rise buildings were evacuated. I personally experienced the tremors while I was in a meeting at the Ibn Batutta mall. The sofa on which I was sitting started to slide away, but I thought it may be due to some construction work happening in the area. When I returned back to DIC, I saw most of the offices evacuated with people getting into their cars to rush back to their home. The only rumor I have heard is that an under construction bridge in Dubai Marina has collapsed. This news is yet to be confirmed. It is all fine now as people have gone back to their buildings.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What an Idea - Mumbai...

On my recent visit to Mumbai, I could see all the major hoardings taken over by the new Idea Cellular campaign. The tag line was “Jiska number Mumbai ka, woh Mumbai Ka”. “Mumbai what an Idea”. I have attached one of their creatives. Check out their Mumbai Ka Idea, which allows you to take a Rapchick Mumbaiyya test and earn a certificate. I must say, this is an excellent viral activity which would help one to get more visitors to the website and spread the campaign message. Here is my certificate ;)

Abhishek Bachan is the face of Idea Cellular’s current campaign. Their creatives remain the same on all the ad mediums, which allows you to relate to the campaign. Idea Cellular is part of the Aditya Birla Group, which operates in approx 12 states in India and is one of the fastest growing telecom companies in the country.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing Olympics - Very Expensive Affair

Flavor of the month – Beijing Olympics. To give you a taste of this very expensive dish please find below the expenses involved in making it: -

1) China has built 12 new stadiums at the cost of almost $3.82 billion.
2) The dragon shape airport terminal built in Beijing cost $3.82 billion.
3) To maintain Beijing’s existing infrastructure and build new one it cost $21.5 billion
4) The unique bird’s nest stadium that is the main attraction in Beijing cost $477.5 million
5) Beijing is expected to spend $38.2 billion in this event.

More than 100 million people in China live on less than $1.2 a day. Now does this expensive dish help raise the poor?

This Olympics organized in China is being called the most expensive one ever.
The 2012 Olympic host UK is struggling to increase it’s spend budget which still stands at approximately $18 billion. More than 100 UK Olympic committee members have reached China to understand the complexities involved in organizing such a grand event. UK citizens have already started questioning the committee for allocating such a huge budget for the 2012 Olympics.
Is it really worth investing this much money in the games? The world is still struggling to fight poverty !

Hope you have enjoyed the dish. Please feel free to add spices to make it taste better.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

MSN Introduces Minimise-Me

MSN UK has developed an application that allows you to recreate your profile picture. The character can be customized according to your needs and you even have the celebrity lookalikes at your service.

Check out the “Minimise-Me” application that allows you to create your own mini-me that will be displayed as your profile picture on Windows Live Messenger. Some of the well known celebrity characters are also available for down load on the website. It is creative application, nothing new I must say but its fun.

Try it out.

Monday, August 4, 2008

KZero - Creating Virtual Brands

KZero helps many real life brands to enter the virtual world. They are consultants who have defined their own set of rules to create a virtual brand. This company is driving the future Marketing world. They have helped many companies create a brand in the virtual world websites like Second Life, Football Superstars, There, Kinset etc. I like their bold statement saying that there are 5 rules in virtual brand management :–

Ignore, Remove, Observe, Endorse and Engage

As per this company the Marketing rules in the virtual world differ from the real world. The Metabrands (brands in the virtual world) are positioned in a different way. The consumers behave differently in the online world and you need to understand those needs of the consumers. This company specializes in creation of Virtual Brands and Retailing, and has helped real time brands like Nokia, Loreal, Signify etc create and position products in the virtual world. They can create and promote virtual product, companies, and avatars. They also have analysis on the usage of the various virtual world web sites e.g. how many users are there in per site, age, sex, number of hours spent etc.

The company has a futuristic though process in the Digital Marketing world and has been successful in the promotion of various virtual products.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Orkut Unblocked by Etisalat

According to a report published in Khaleej Times, Orkut may be unblocked soon by Etisalat. As per the report TRA (Telecom Regulation Authority) has granted permission to both Etisalat and Du to unblock 1000 websites (which my include Orkut), which were otherwise blocked because their content was offensive.
Du and Etisalat are yet to confirm receipt of any such official notice from TRA.
Some of the other well known website blocked by Etisalat is Flickr – Photo Sharing website, Skype, Twitter.

Sites can be blocked in the UAE for 'inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates', according to TRA

If users want to question a blocked website with eCompany, they can either visit or click Contact Us/Feedback, call the company’s contact centre on UAE Toll Free 800 6100, or e-mail details direct to

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hybrid Taxis in Dubai

Dubai will soon launch Hybrid Taxis all over the emirates. RTA
had launched a fleet of 10 hybrid taxis as an experiment to assess their performance. If the experiment is successful the entire fleet of taxis will be replaced with hybrid vehicles.

The technology will help reduce pollution levels in Dubai. The vehicle would initially run on electricity and move onto diesel after 60km. This is an excellent move by the government to curb the growing pollution in the city. Now we can truly say that Dubai is going Green. My only concern is in a bid to provide clean environment, I hope post launch we have decent taxi fare prices. RTA should not justify a sudden increase in taxi fares due to high cost of maintaining these vehicles.

Dubai government has also brought 620 buses which consume pure diesel, thus reducing the emission levels.
To conclude this a remarkable initiative taken by the Dubai Government, which really proves that Dubai Cares.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuil - The next Google

A group of ex Google and IBM employees has found a new search engine called Cuil (“Cool”). Founders include ex Google employees Anna Patterson, Russell Power, Louis Monier and as well as Tom Patterson, who worked on search and storage technologies for IBM.
The founders claim that this search engine is able to index almost every thing on the Internet unlike Google, which displays only popular pages. Till date the website has indexed 121,617,892,992 pages. Google claims that it indexes more pages than Cuil.

I have tried using the search engine and it is fairly easy to use, and displays various set of results categorically on the right hand side of the page.

The search engine understands the context of the page and the intentions behind the search, which still remains a challenge for Google. Another special feature of engine is that it displays all the results in thumbnail format. The site doesn’t retain any record of your search results unlike Google, which retains the search result records for at least 18 months.

The question remains if this search engine will be able to push Google from the search throne. In the past many contenders like and (later purchased by Microsoft) were wiped out without a trace. Google still remains the market leader with almost 70% share.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Search Engine Wars – Google vs Microsoft

Recently, the search business has been highly contested amongst the online tycoons. I guess the online industry has realized that if you can dominate the search business, you can take over the Internet. Lately some of the initiatives taken by the search engine website include: -

¨ Latest News – Live Search powered by Microsoft will be integrated into Facebook by year's end, which is a smart deal to boost the results of the search engine.

¨ In May Microsoft launched a Live Search cash back program for US users, and in July it unveiled Secret Search, unique incentive based program exclusive for Australian Live Search users (

¨ We are already aware of the unsuccessful takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft, due to intervention of Google, and resistance shown by the CEO of Yahoo.

¨ Google has already launched several versions of its search including, etc

¨ Yahoo has taken the initiative to launch BOSS

But the ultimate question remains will Microsoft be able to beat Google? Well, if Microsoft is trying to create a better search engine, then it never will be able to beat Google. I believe its all about product placement and differentiation. The word search is owned by Google in our minds and it is difficult to replace it.
Microsoft needs to come with a better offering probably say – the ultimate
Web 3.0 engine. It is like Microsoft beating IBM in the 80’s when no one even could imagine that the old giant could be shaken.

Once again Google is already taking steps to safeguard its interests by venturing into various other markets like Mobile, Blogs, and Social Media etc. But until how long will Google retain its no 1 position?

What search engine do you use?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blasts in Ahmedabad


This post is not part of the theme of this blog. I have just come to know that 13 serial blasts have taken place today in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. A stunning 13 bomb blasts have taken place in Bapu anagar, Maninagar, Isanpur, Narol Circle, Narodha Patiya, Hatkeshkar and Hakar areas in 15 minutes of Ahmedabad today. I have just spoken some of my friends/relatives who stay in Nava Vadej area and have confirmed that every thing is fine there. Most of the blasts have taken place in the main city area. India is on high alert including cities- Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Indore and many more. Please post any pics/vids or any other info pertaining to this event.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Car Pooling Launched in Dubai

A dedicated website ( has been launched in by the Dubai government to register private car pooling services. The government expects to reduce traffic as commuters will be legally authorized to share a vehicle to reach their respective workplace. This initiative has been taken to curb illegal taxis, which have been a cheaper mode of transport. Khaleej Times has reported that RTA has received 1200 applications post launch of the website on 23 July 08. Out of the total applications received 300 have been activated. As per the RTA official this proves that there is a huge demand for carpooling.
I believe many commuters would like to share a vehicle while travelling to their offices, provided they are able to adjust the timings. Most of the commuters drive their own vehicle to have more flexibility. I would like to raise some points on this new initiative : -

1) Why does one have to register to commute in a friends/relatives vehicle?
2) Can the same car be registered by more than 4 people? C’mon it is not necessary that the same set of people travel everyday in the same car.
3) How does RTA plan to have a check on this? Don’t tell me they will keep checking each and individual car.
4) A registered member needs to renew his membership every 6 months. I can smell some cash outflow happening here
5) Why is RTA trying to restrict who will travel is which car? I believe all of are sensible enough not give ride to a stranger.
6) If you want to curb illegal taxis, just start a similar service where by commuters can share cost of the taxi.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is Yahoo following the Open Source Path?

The chief strategist of Yahoo, Prabhakar Raghvan, has finally found the key to Yahoo’s independence. BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) is the name of Yahoo’s search tool package, which will allow users to create search engines to retrieve customized results on their own sites. A lot has been written about this package and the decision of Yahoo to avail this package to the public, to remain independent.

Is Yahoo going to become the next Linux, whereby there will many mini Yahoo engines emerging all over the web? Independent developers will be allowed to tweak the Yahoo search engine code and customize to their needs. We may soon get to hear search engine names like – Yehoo, Yohoo, Y etc.

Whatever the result might be, at least now Yahoo must seriously consider having a portal dedicated to the Middle East as ignoring this region would result in a lost opportunity.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Yahoo's Online Potential

Recently I met the online sales director for Yahoo Middle East at a conference. Amidst the take over dialogue being once again in question, the obvious question asked to him was – What is the future of the company? He was obviously not able to comment as the negotiation between the various parties involved in the deal is still in process.
I was a bit surprised to find out that Yahoo does not have a portal dedicated to Middle East, unlike its rivals like MSN and Google. In the absence of a local portal Yahoo is not able to attract many companies having huge online ad budgets in the Gulf.

There are many UAE based property developers and Saudi base banks active on the portal.

According to me Yahoo Mail was one of the most attractive spaces to place your ads as one could reach its targeted segment. Placing an ad at the Yahoo main page was like driving unwanted traffic towards your website as it would be viewed by the global online users. I would be happy to hear any results that you may have gained post placing ads at Yahoo.

Last month Yahoo had agreed to allow display of Google’s Adsense for Search and Adsense for Content ads on Yahoo’s US and Canadian Web portal. This is an attempt by Jerry Yang to inject some liquidity in the company. Today’s headlines have once again raised a question about Yahoo’s strategy, as Microsoft has once again expressed interests in acquiring the company but at a discounted share price.

What will be the future of Yahoo remains a big question mark as clash of the titans may once again takes place.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Salik – Taking toll on our life

Salik – a toll system launched in July 2007 to control traffic chaos in Dubai. The system has provided some level of comfort on the roads where it has been installed, but has created mayhem on the alternate roads as many commuters decide to take them to save money.
A lot has been written about the toll system from some people appreciating it to some raising concerns and calling it a money making tool.

I would like to raise one issue – If Salik was introduced to control traffic – I fail to understand what are we trying to control from midnight to early morning, when there is rarely any traffic on the roads?

Why is Salik a 24x7 charge? I believe, Salik should be charged only during peak hours or for limited hours, the way we are charged for car parking. If Salik was introduced to control traffic, what is the reason behind charging a commuter at 02:00am in the morning?

If Salik means open or clear, I am not very clear about the strategy behind this toll. Is it serving the public or the government interests? Can’t the interests be mutual?

The alternate routes like Floating bridge are open until 22:00 hrs only. What happens when some one has to travel to Bur Dubai after 22:00 hrs? He has to either take the longer route like Business Bay or pay toll at Maktoum or Garhoud Bridge (I am aware that Shingdaga tunnel can be another alternate route)

In the eve of rising inflation and costs in Dubai, any sort of concession offered by the government would be a relief. I would like to appeal to the Dubai Government to at least reconsider the timings for the Salik charges.

Has any one got a better suggestion, please feel free to Express.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dubai Property Saga

Recently I visited launch of a new property in Dubai. The launch was organized in a very high profile Dubai hotel, which had attracted many prospect buyers. Thanks to the print ads in the newspapers that generate enough curiosity amongst buyers, which ultimately leads to long queues at most of the launch venues. After being convinced by my colleagues that this was a good buy I decided to visit this launch in Dubai and reached there at a decent time. It was understood that the units will be sold on first come first basis therefore tokens were issued to maintain discipline. I managed to get a lucky token no. 111 (thanks to my colleague who had reserved one for me before I could reach). They had got token nos. ranging in the 90’s. Professional buyers had started queuing at the venue as early as 06:30 a.m. My friend was leading the commotion of 5 people including myself and providing us details of the property. There was a buzz about the various other developments that may come up around this property and how soon the price will appreciate.

Many people were gathering in the lobby to view the floor plans and making a note of the best units available. The rumor was that there are 128 units available for sale and the fact was only one unit will be sold per token. I got really excited about the fact that I held the token no 111, therefore fancied a chance of getting my hands on one small unit.

Finally around 10:00am the token numbers were called. People started to queue in to get into the sales zone were the sales men held units on there computer and a person was asked to choose the one they may be interested in. By the time token number 20 was called, it was announced that all the small units have been sold out. I was a little disappointed but decided to buy a medium sized unit (was trying to figure out my liquidity sources). Then determined I was and no one could stop me now (except my financial fitness). Some people decided to auction their tokens, to make some money out of it as they could not afford to but any thing more than a small unit.

By the time token number 31 was announced, most of the medium size units were sold but there was a mixed bag of only 50 medium, large and very large units available. Listening to this announcement all my determination had gone down the drain and I decided to make my way to the exit. My colleagues were equally disenchanted with the entire event and called it a hoax.

To clarify a total of 128 units were available and the condition was that only one unit will be sold per token. Had that been the reality, why were only 50 units left by the time 31st token was announced ? This means a total of only 80 units were available for sale or did many people manage to grab more than one unit?

Well, I am not a property specialist but would like to highlight such issues, where a lot of hype and expectation is created among the prospect buyers in Dubai who just end up wasting a lot of their time at the launches. This is because most of the units are sold well in advance before the property is actually launched. Or to be fair to everyone early bird gets the worm.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Text messages are one of the most popular ways of communication amongst youths. UAE mobile penetration is more that 150% (I wouldn’t know how many SMS’s are sent in a day over the UAE network, you can have a guess). SMS has certainly changed the way we key in several words since we are allowed only 160 characters per SMS. For example we can type “u2” for you too or “gr8” = great.

If you happen to log on to an Arabic chat room you might be lost by what you may read. The most surprising part is how the combination of numbers and letter is used to communicate with each other. The language is often used to send text messages, which is perhaps interpreted by the Arabs of the internet generation. It is referred as Arabenglish or Arabizi by the young Arabs. The language has taken its present form as Arabic has only 28 alphabets, which have sounds that are not found in English.

Some of the Arabic letters are replaced by the following numbers the sounds of which are not found in English:

3 =Ain
7 =Haa
5 =Khaa
2 =Hamza
9 =Sa'ad
6 =Ta'af

One of the alphabets will be replaced by a number which has a different sound, for example - Mashroha can be written as Mashro7a.

Some other examples: -

3 - Saeed = Sa3ed
7 - Ahmed = A7ed
5 - Khan = 5an
2 - Asaf = As2f
9 - Sabur = 9bur

Have you tried communicating with your friends in a different style? We would like to know.
Numbers in Arabic for you:

Friday, May 30, 2008


If you run a website and have a primary business of selling products, every time a visitor who is browsing your website leaves without performing an action, may result in a loss. The average dwell time for a visitor on a web page is a minute. If the attractive ads on the webpage can’t get his attention we have lost him forever.

The most valuable asset in an online business is a repeat visitor. On an average the websites are able to convert only 1-2% of the visitors to sales, which means 98% of the visitors leave without performing any action. If you have to retain these visitors what should one do? In comes the technique called Retargeting. A technique performed in 3 simple steps: -

1) Drive traffic to your website – The online business thrives on traffic which can be driven to a website through various mediums like search engines, email shots, paid ads, banner ads etc. Once this is done we go to step 2

2) Track the visitors past and present – We need to track what activity is being performed by a visitor on the website. This is done by placement of a simple code in the website. The code tracks the web pages a visitor spends time on. If a consumer was conducting a transaction and decided to leave for some reason those pages will be stored on a temporary basis.

3) Retargeting in action - Now come’s the ultimate step. Next time the user visits any other website say like My, similar ads will be delivered on his page that were of interest to him. In other words the targeted ad will be delivered to him again. This will create an impact on the visitor. Some studies suggest that you need seven contacts with a customer to make a sale. Such form of advertising has made a difference for many online companies.

I recently came across a website called that has been in the retargeting business since Feb 2007. Fetchback serves up ads on many websites, including social networking sites like MySpace and news content sites like

Check out this link which reflects how has helped a company increase their online sales by 20% with the use of retargeting technique.

I believe is worth a try, check them out.

Cya for now…….!


Monday, April 28, 2008

What type are you ?

Are you the

Or the

Or the

Or the

Or the

Find out what type you are and 'type cast' people around you...

Visit now!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Do you have 5 seconds ?

No more clicks, just lend me your ears. NetAudioAds Pay-Per-Play (PPP) is an online media channel that plays 5 second audio advertisements. The source code is placed in the website and every time a person visits the website the audio is played. Audio ads are only heard once on the page where the website owner may have place the source code.

The advantage of placing these ads on your website is that they don’t take any physical space and but are audible. Similar to Adsense, PPP audio ads will are contextually related to the text content of any web page where the PPP code is placed.

This medium of advertising is in huge demand by the online marketers around the world. As of 2/29/2008 the Pay-Per-Play network has grown to over 25 million websites.

Many online marketers have criticized this form of advertising as it may irritate a person visiting the website. Also, there is an argument on how many users actually keep their speakers on while visiting a website. The most valid concern could be - overuse. The temptation to place an audio ad on every page of your website can be very strong, but this may drive users away as they may find it irritating.

NetAudioAds charges advertisers on a CPM basis. Each 1000 ads currently costs the advertiser anywhere from $20 CPM (per thousand) to $26 CPM depending on targeting options they may select.

Have you experienced PPP yet ? Please check out vids at

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Facebook or Phasebook ?

Facebook, the social networking website is a smart tool to gather information on people preferences. Information is classified as per age groups and various marketing techniques.
How far this first hand information can help MNC's to launch a product, and minimize its cost in market research based on preferences?
There are many MNC using this tool to target their customers. How much on an average would an MNC pay to advertise on Facebook.

Rate Card to advertise on Facebook is as follows:

The current minimum *(CPC) cost per click is $0.01.

The current minimum **CPM is $0.15 for the ad space and $0.15 for News Feed.

The minimum daily budget for CPC and CPM is $5. In addition, your budget must be at least 2x the CPC or CPM you have specified. For example, if you specify a $10 CPC, then your daily budget must be at least $20.

The question remains how many of us actually like to receive ads on our personal pages on the social networking websites. Are the ads attractive enough to the get attention of the user?

*CPC is the cost the advertiser pays when a user clicks on the banner/ad
**CPM refers to cost per thousand images.
(More on these in my next post)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Do you wanna go Digital ?

Almost every one of you may have come across the term Web 2.0. If you haven’t then Google it ;) Alright, people who need some initial “gyaan”, you may please go through the article below: -

Web 2.0 is a movement in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that intends to assist creativity, information sharing, and cooperation amongst users. These concepts have led to development of sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, Blogs, Flickr etc.

The term was notable after it was used in the O’Reilly Media Web2.0 conference in 2004. O’Reilly Media is a private consultancy firm doing technical writing formed by Tim O’Reilly. The term evolved during a brain storming session in 2003 at the O’Reilly Media.

According to O’Reilly there are 4 levels in the hierarchy of Web 2.0 applications. Level 2 applications are most Web 2.0 oriented and exist only on the Internet e.g. eBay, Ad Sense, Skype etc. Level 2 application can operate offline but gain benefit going online e.g. Flickr, where one can share photos. Level 1 application operate offline but gain more additional features going online e.g. Google Docs and Spread sheets. Level 0 application are equally efficient offline as online, e.g. Google Maps.

Today Web 2.0 is loosely associated with technologies like wikis, blogs, social networking, file sharing etc. There is a widespread criticism by many web experts like Tim Berners-Lee, who says that many of the technologies adopted to develop Web 2.0 have been in existence since early days of web. Are we all in for Web 2.0 ?

Your valuable comments/suggestions will be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Can Dubai handle it ?


The drizzle past few days has flooded many parts of Dubai. Most of us struggled to reach our offices yesterday. Believe it or not it took me 3 hours to reach my office from Sharjah to Dubai and a record time of 51/2 hours while returning back home.

Some facts

Rain in Dubai was 81.9 mm
The highest ever rainfall expected this year
Westerly winds are blowing 25 knots offshore
1500 accidents reported in Dubai between Tuesday morning and Wednesday 12 p.m.
None of us would make it on time to the office ;)

Other neighboring emirates are equally impacted. Many parts of Sharjah remain underwater. Emirates road was closed today, which caused the ultimate traffic chaos. Schools were also closed for today; hope this takes of some pressure on the traffic. If the rains continue until Wednesday, the economy will suffer loss of at least 1 billion – an amount enough to build a sufficient drainage system for the next five years.

Check out this link: -

What time did you reach home today? Please do share your adventure story.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oops! I did it Again

Hello Mates,

Happy New Year. We have got GWB (George W Bush) visiting us in Dubai. I am sure most of us might be going through chaos, due to the sudden decision taken by the authorities to block roads. Hey! But we got a public holiday – thank you Mr. Bush (at least for something) hehe…!

I understand the precautionary measure taken by the authorities to avoid any causality but don’t you think this is lack of planning.

This is a copy of a mail forwarded by my friend to add confusion at the office: -

Please note there will be several closures tomorrow as a result of GWBs visit to the UAE. According to one report the following roads are expected to be closed between 6 am and 5 pm

Al Khail Road closed
SZR closed from Salik to Salik
Jumeirah Beach Road closed from Al Thanya to Jumeirah Corporate office (far side of Madinat)
Al Wasl closed from Al Thanya to Dubai Police

Most of us kept wondering if this was true and were seeking official notification from our departments until late evening. In the online world the fingers were busy finding if this news was true – by keying several combinations of phrases like: -

Dubai Road Closure
Bush Dubai Road Closure
Dubai Holiday due to bush visit

etc etc and these combinations gave different results. I don’t have any official stats to confirm the most popular searches of the day. - The Gulf news link confirming the rumor.

Hope all of us are for once going to celebrate the unofficial peace keeping day by keeping our cars away from the roads. How do you plan to spend this unexpected public holiday?


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