Interview: Alexander Rauser, CEO Prototype Interactive

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The first Facebook bank branch in the Middle East was pioneered by Prototype Interactive

“As Google continues to get better at connecting related search queries, long, in-depth content will become more of a trend. These pages will rank for both broad head terms and long tail terms Pages that are hyper-targeted towards long tail terms will die, and you’ll see more and more sites start to consolidate their pages.” — Danny Tran, Online Marketing Manager, QuinStreet

Industry experts suggest that companies are all set to increase their digital marketing spend in 2015. In fact, reports suggest that digital marketing has been the number one-ranging CEO priority activity across firms of all kinds. Moreover, increasing number of statistics prove that the thin line between digital and traditional marketing is continuing with the “blur trend”.

In such a market scenario exists Prototype Interactive that aims to create effective digital campaigns for best results.  The company plans to launch a digital marketing kit to provide businesses with insights into digital marketing campaign. A testimony to its success is the fact that it pioneered the launch of the first Facebook bank branch in the Middle East region.

It all started when the Commercial Bank of Dubai hired Prototype to create a new website for their personal banking business with the aim to transform the site into a fully-fledged personal banking experience. The ‘Facebook branch’ enables customers to check their accounts and transfer funds from within the social network.

SEE ALSO: Demand for Digital Marketers set to rise in the Middle East

We at the Arabian Gazette were indeed curious to interact with the digital strategy experts.

 

 

Alexander Rauser

Our readers would like to know more something about Prototype Interactive.
We are a digital agency based in Media City and working with our clients to transform their business digitally by providing them with digital strategy and production services. We are a team of just over 20 and started in 2010, our core services are web design, mobile application development and online marketing.

How do you define digital marketing?
Digital marketing, to us, means promoting a product or service online or through a variety of digital channels. This generally represents the complexity of digital marketing as there are so many different ways of communicating with your target audience online. Digital marketing should include all digital channels such as websites, online stores, advertising, SEO and so on – all depending on the respective business of course.

What are the latest trends in digital marketing?
Content marketing is back big time. It is mainly driven by social media, SEO and recent changes in how websites are ranked on Google and co. While content was always important it seems brands have finally understood the importance of content marketing. Of course mobile marketing is also very important and we believe we will see more location based marketing in the future. This includes the use of timely and location relevant information or offers presented to users. Mobile is a huge opportunity as users spend more and more time browsing and consuming media on their mobile phones.

Content personalization and creating bespoke user experiences are another trend we believe is worth exploring. While this type of marketing was only accessible to those companies with large marketing and IT budgets new offerings make this type of intelligence available to smaller businesses. While there is a lot of debate on privacy and collecting data about consumers and using it for marketing purposes when it is done right and with knowledge of the consumer a more tailored marketing program that actually ads value can be quite successful.

However, in general it is important not to always just jump on to the latest trend as digital marketing requires integrating various channels seamlessly. Putting all effort on one single tactic may not yield the best, or any results.

SEE ALSO: Strong potential for mobile marketing in the Middle East [Infographic]

What is unique about Prototype Interactive (PI)?

We have a fully transparent approach to digital marketing and work with open books. What this means is that we explain and educate our clients and try to provide them with the best possible solution based on our knowledge, but without bombarding them with complex lingo to confuse the situation. We see it more like a consultation rather than selling a service and we don’t have an issue sharing how we do things. We started implementing this approach after we learned from our own marketing efforts that this seems to be a general challenge in the industry.

Commercial Bank of Dubai launched a bank branch on Facebook. How do you think the Middle East has responded to this?

The application has received a lot of interest and positive feedback so far. We developed this application as the 4th in the world and the first one in the region and we hope this will be a case study that will foster innovation. It’s a brave concept and we are proud being involved in these type of projects, we are also sure we will see more similar concepts coming into the market in the future.

SEE ALSO: Middle East Online advertising – 37% growth in 2013

With Facebook’s usage on the decline, especially among the youth, what are the trends that you are seeing for the CBD Facebook banking activity? Can you share with us some latest numbers/analytics?

An application on Facebook, if it’s online banking or any other service, is by default attracting a younger audience than conventional channels would. That is the objective in the first place. Looking at numbers in the UAE, for example, every second person seems to be on Facebook and if you would dig deeper and look at the number of youngsters having an account this ratio would be closer to 1. This makes Facebook still a viable platform for such applications. Especially if something is offered that goes beyond the usual submit and win competition and is actually combining social networking with your everyday life. User experience is very important here and looking at other similar implementations that have been rolled out recently on Twitter or SnapChat where users can send money from one to another show that there is a demand for these type of apps. It’s about convenience and sometimes we introduce new things into the marketing that no one would have thought of before, but if people like the concept and find it useful it’s a real winner.

It is being said that the future of marketing is on mobile. Can you share some numbers on the mobile usage trends that you are seeing in the region/globally?

Everything is going mobile as it is the one screen that most people spend their time on browsing the Internet according to recent Nielsen research, and of course this is not unexpected. From consuming media, to working and social networking everything runs through mobile devices. That’s why there needs to be a focus on mobile marketing, however that does not mean to neglect “traditional” digital marketing tactics and really it is about creating multi-screen experiences that lead from one channel to the other in the most seamless way possible. That’s why an application on Facebook makes sense as much as a mobile app, a Smart TV app or tablet app would do. It all depends where I am as a consumer right now and what are the services I want to use. As a brand it’s about being present at the right time on the right screen.

SEE ALSO: How Mobile and Internet is Transforming the Arab World   

Given the fact that some nations are skipping the computer revolution totally and jumping to the mobile age, what would you advise to the companies?

It’s all about mobile first these days, which means, in this context, to focus on a mobile product offering in regards to user experience and order of implementation before anything else. However, as with everything it always depends on each individual situation, but companies need to be where the users are and if they spend most of their time using mobile phones than that’s the place to be. What is important to note is that the concepts do not necessarily change, they just take a new “mobile” form. For example websites are now responsive and work on mobile devices, companies focus more on mobile application development rather than desktop application development and so forth.

Your website talks about “beyond Facebook and Twitter”. Help us understand the scope of social media.

Due to the dominance of Facebook and Twitter in the social media sphere we want to draw attention to the fact that there is much more to social media marketing than establishing a presence on a specific social network as a brand. Content plays a major role and users are now connected to each other using a vast number of social networks or applications. It is all about creating content and some sort of an omnipresence that would allow users to share what they want anywhere they want.

Another example is how Facebook changed the way brand page posts are shown to Facebook fans. Now, a company’s Facebook page is only seen when the company pays to advertise each post, even to existing followers. So what happened is, companies have spent millions to build large audiences, and now they spend even more to get something out of the communities they built… some say, in this case, the social network owns your customers.

How do you offer value to your clients in terms of ROI on their digital marketing spend?

We offer a service that helps our customers to create effective digital marketing campaigns that look at all possible angles to achieve the best results. This means we do not prioritize our own resources, but look at what is the best fit based on the expected results.

What according to you are some of the measurable metrics that give an assurance to your clients on digital marketing spend?

In most cases we look with our clients at brand awareness or sales, however in some cases a different problem needs to be solved such as customer retention or customer satisfaction. That’s why for each campaign we define clear KPIs that help to measure the success and allows everyone to track that what is being done actually works and has a positive impact.

Do you have any other tips for businesses looking to improve their business via digital marketing?

We are launching a digital marketing kit that actually provides businesses with full insights on how to start and execute a digital marketing campaign. The idea is to create a transparent platform for everyone to benefit from and learn more about digital marketing. Additionally there are many online resources that can be useful to get good tips on digital marketing.

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