Why digital advertising is failing in Pakistan

I have written about this before, but its been a while since I went on a rampage. The ol love of digital is heating up again, and Ive been redoing the ol slide show which showcases typical projects that can be undertaken in Pakistan and the money that can be made of it. Alas, once again, its still not a feasible business model to launch a stand alone digital advertising agency in Pakistan. (please note digital advertising is not about social media management alone). Unless:

1. the core model is online media ad placement (this requires substantial float of money to make serious money of it)

2. you are prepared to cheat the client and spread the spoils in the brand team (Sorry, still not able to do that)

3. the main model is an outsource one, where you have people sitting on elance etc at night bidding for projects and then working during the day cycle to satisfy them


So, in short (deep sigh!), an ethical stand alone digital advertising agency will not get of the ground in the current scenario in Pakistan.



  1. Faisal Sheikh

    I don’t always agree with Salman, in fact make that never but on this I will agree and also would like to add that revolution in digital advertising globally started with a similar model but soon big businesses realized that they were being ‘ripped-off’ by the specialists and took remedial action. We are starting to see the same trend in Pakistan as well.

  2. Mohammad

    In the end, the question is, whether you can provide true business value for your clients investment in digital media (however broad the scope of that may be). The fact that almost no agency focuses on web analysis and creating a digital measurement marketing model that measures KPIs against goals and objectives, helps set targets and segmenting analytical data is what has hindered the development of a data-driven culture. Since numbers don’t lie, its much, much easier to get your clients to invest with a solid data-driven approach. Unfortunately, over here, its all about the buzz. (Think Social, and the many so-called companies offering social media services).

  3. Ejaz Asi (@ejazasi)

    A digital advertising agency is different from a digital agency? Is it about semantics or do we have an understanding that a digital (advertising) agency works on digital projects primarily from web design, dev to social media to online media management to SEO/SEM and digital campaigns etc? If so, there are quite a few who have been working in Pakistan covering some or most of the above mentioned categories within digital realm. They are doing okay which is a sense we get through Y/Y rise in digital marketing budgets across various organizations as well as pure media buying online. Even if the core model of digital ad agency is online media placement, how is it bad or different except just a matter of taste and business models?

    I think this post is a work of progress or the author left it in the middle without elaborating how companies like The Brand Crew (which I am part of), Creative Chaos, Pyrspective and Converge continue existing.? Many of these agencies, including ours, have in-house capabilities and have worked on varied range of products and type of projects.

    • ideawala

      Ejaz, with all due respect, how much of the revenue of #brandcrew is from digital and how much from very conventional services like packaging redesign etc

  4. Umair Mohsin

    Ah! sir. you keep forgetting that digital agencies such as MI Digital also get to work for international clients as well. Pakistan digital media scene may not explode now but thanks to international dollars we’ll keep afloat until it does.

    It’s also helping us become full service and work at international levels.

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