An Exclusive interview session with Mr. Ali Abdullah, Business Manager – String Media

Tell us about your journey?

I started my career in the advertising industry with String Media and my journey with String so far is nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Ever since I joined String I had the luxury of being part of a culture that embraces change, diversity and encourages self-learning and co-creation. I have been extremely lucky to work alongside a team with extensive experience and skill set which as one unit enables us to be highly adaptable to the ever-changing digital landscape.

I started here at String as an intern back in 2015. I gradually moved up the ranks and had the opportunity to lead the Strategy and Communication department, Performance Marketing team, Corporate PR and Special project side and currently I am the Business Manager for the Agency. It is safe to say that I learnt my trade here at String and I can proudly say that I am a product of String media.

Enlighten us about your role in string media.

As a business manager for String Media my key role is to manage and motivate the team to deliver high quality digital marketing services including content, community, advertising and campaign management as well as educate and support the internal teams & clients on social and marketing channel value, best practices and ongoing evolution implications

I believe the most integral aspect of my role is to work with the team and act as a support system when it comes to originating central communication & PR strategies that are powered by insights and driven by heart which in turn enable us to develop innovative and value-based digital, mobile, e-commerce & social marketing strategies that deliver on clients’ KPIs and business objectives.

String Media’s open door policy and employee empowerment via co-created structures has given me the opportunity to extend my role further and enabled me to contribute towards the development and implementation of new procedures and policies to enhance internal and external workflow between cross functional teams and clients respectively.

What major changes did you see in digital Industry in the past 5 years?

I believe that our understanding of what is digital has drastically changed in recent times. Five years ago creating a Facebook page or an Instagram account and publishing a few resizes print/OOH promotional material would suffice for brand to consider itself as digitally active.

Digital has come a long way from one way communication and has differentiated itself from traditional mass communication vehicles with consumers and brands trying to harness its full potential in their respective efforts to establish a two way communication resulting in meaningful conversations that aid in forming a strong connection between brands and consumers.

Dynamic content has become the undisputed King when it comes to content consumption. Video centric platforms and streaming services have been hard at work trying to steal eyeballs from traditional mediums – and they seem to be succeeding. YouTube & Netflix are prime examples of this.

Digital has rapidly become the preferred medium of communication and with its far superior targeting capabilities over traditional mediums brands have steered towards a “digital first” strategy when it comes to brand communication and advertising.

For me digital has enabled brands and agencies to work in unison and adopt a more personalized approach and develop personalized communication for the intended target audience. Digital as medium of communication has enabled advertisers and agencies to truly harness the power of content.

The most notable change in my opinion is the ever increasing need of transparency and accountability. If we look from a global perspective, there was a substantial sense of change in terms of relationship between advertisers and digital giants such as Facebook and Google with agencies acting as intermediaries and playing a mediating role in between. The stout image of digital juggernauts such as Google & Facebook when it comes to offering extensive reach and scale was widely questioned by measurement errors and incidents regarding brand safety. I look at such instances in a positive light as this contributes in the overall development of the digital industry when it comes to removing ambiguity and further optimization of procedures and regulations.

Where do you see the industry in next 5 years?

The only way is up & forward. The impact of digital on the populous, businesses and brands is clearly evident with the influence growing stronger by the passage of time. Digital will not be seen as a standalone medium in the shadows of its traditional counterparts and will be an integral part of the integrated approach that businesses and brands will be adopting in the near future. Juggernauts such as P&G and Coke are early adopters of this particular change in perspective others are expected to jump on the bandwagon sooner rather than later.

I think the industry is moving towards more integrated approach and there will be a shift in the role of an agency and in what capacity will they be required. Brands & businesses are working towards capacity building via development of in-house teams and seeing industry experts as consultants who can work as an extended team of marketing & advertising specialist.

For me the rapidly changing nature of the industry compels me to believe that the next five years will be very interesting and we should expect major shift in the way digital will be able to influence the local market, be it in terms of serving as medium of two way communication, sales & customer service or financial transactions – The possibilities are endless.

Being a core team member of digital marketing and advertising where do you face hurdles in achieving the objectives of the firm?

One of the core aspect of our ethos at String Media is to look at hurdles as an opportunity to challenge ourselves. At String hurdles are seen as problem solving simulations that build character and give team members an opportunity to seek firsthand experience when it comes to tackling challenging situations.

As mentioned earlier, at String Media we have had the luxury of working with a team & management with wealth of industry specific experience who act as a support system throughout all layer of hierarchy – This is the very reason we take pride in saying that throughout our existence we have been steadily achieving our internal objectives and have been able to manage our clients expectations with great success.

Tell us about your core team members.

At String we believe you are as strong as your weakest link, we consider every individual working for the organization as an integral part of our system. Currently we are a team of 40 strong, from managing director to management trainees, all are part of our core team.

We are a group young and exciting individuals who have a knack of doing things differently. The aim of the team is to always try and think out of the box and this is the very reason which has enables us to find uniqueness in our work and achieve success – Our most recent accolade (Jury Choice for the Best campaign) at Pakistan Digi Awards 2019 for our client Zellbury is a prime example of the aptitude, guile, hardwork and dedication of our core team.

Do you think that digital industry in Pakistan have met the international standards?

I think we are on par with global standards, but there is always room to improve. What we can definitely improve upon is on the absence of a proper body/association for the stability of the digital medium and its market similar to what we have for traditional media. Other than that, the digital industry is growing rapidly, it has established itself over the years with a healthy competition amongst competitors who are constantly pushing each other to improve further which in turn contributes to the overall development of the industry itself.

What are the upcoming ventures we can expect from your agency?

I believe it is a cardinal sin if you remain stagnant within this industry, change is inevitable and in order to grow it’s essential to broaden one’s horizons. For String, exploring the new horizons is what motivates us and change is something that excites us. In order to realize our goals to become a full service integrated marketing agency, we have ventured into the world of PR & talent management and have plans in the pipeline to explore the event planning & management side as well. The common goal for all of our existing and future endeavors is to add value in terms of offered services enabling us to facilitate our clients both existing and potential to the fullest.