YouTube Home Page Now Available in MENA

Google and YouTube in the Middle East and Africa have announced the arrival of the HomePage ad on YouTube. The world's largest entertainment platform, YouTube in the MENA region will offer ad space on the home page. With over 6.2 million impressions daily in the KSA, UAE, Egypt and Morocco online and around 5.2 million impressions per day on mobile, this is going to be huge for media planning. YouTube says that viewers are 437% more likely to engage in a key brand activity as a result of the home page ad format! And, the TV vs YouTube viewership stats are astounding.
YouTube vs TV
YouTube has no prime time as on TV – or rather, any time on YouTube is Prime Time. As a digital agency in Dubai, we see this as a high impact opportunity for marketers and brands. YouTube in our region is offering embedded video content on the home page ad format – with an average interaction rate of 15% – which is huge. This will encourage high Click Through rates and drive results. YouTube says that viewers are 437% more likely to engage in a key brand activity as a result of the home page ad format!
YouTube stats released by Google assure us that users seeing the homepage ads between two to three times interacted twice as much with the brand. All home page ads come with an automatic upgrade to a brand channel as well as a mobile brand channel – helping the brand's home on all screens. The homepage ads on YouTube come in three formats: Premium, Expandable and Mobile, with a value add of brand channel and mobile brand page as well. Brand channels are also available with interactivity buttons.
Standard format homepage ads for the UAE cost around $15,000 for 800,000 estimated impressions, while KSA has an offering of 2.500,000 impressions for $43,000.
A Google study also reveals interesting daily viewing trends – with KSA peaking on Thursday, while viewership in the UAE peaked on Fridays. YouTube is everywhere in our region. Globally, YouTube has over 4 billion views per day with 600 million viewed on mobile. It is the 3rd largest site on the internet.
At Innovations_Digital, a digital and interactive full service agency in Dubai, we can help with planning content and planning your brand's YouTube media planning. Innovations_Digital is part of UM, one of the largest communications planning agencies in the MENA region. Drop us a line at for more information on how we can help you create better impact using YouTube's high-visibility ad formats on the home page.

If Social Media is becoming a news channel, brands better be careful

Globally, news today is breaking every day via social media, rather than on major tv channels or newspapers. More than 50% of those who have access to online have learnt of a major breaking news event on social first! Whitney Houston’s death, the Hudson River plane crash, the protests in Bahrain, the tragic events in Syria, the Arab Spring, and of course the grandest of them all – the death of Osama Bin Laden wre all stories that broke online first. The Royal Wedding was first announced on twitter. No, really.
These were genuine bits of news that just exploded via social. There were some bits of news that spread, that quite didn’t happen. Like the almost daily claims on social that Colonel Gaddafi had died. Had been shot. Killed himself. Been taken prisoner. Been abducted. Until of course he really was shot. And, that too was instantly on YouTube.
While tv is still the leading medium for news (specially in our region here in the Middle East), newspapers come second, but social media is ranked third. Ahead of radio or any other mediums. On social, facebook seems to be the number one sourse, twitter ranks 2nd, YouTube 3rd and Google 4th. These are the new channels of our day.
At Innovations_Digital, we work closely with major brands to help socially shape their news. Brands today have to be careful, because the mic is in the hands of the people. Socially, one tweet, one facebook post can create quite a problem for brands if they are negative. And, of course, gather up huge positive momentum to a campaign if they are positive. The trick is in monitoring what is being said about your brand in the social sphere, responding promptly and with respect, knowing and understanding public sentiment, and engaging in the right dialog on a continuum.
If you are looking for help with your brand’s social image, monitoring brand related news, or managing your social content, please drop us a mail at

First posted on the Innovations_Digital website blog. Tom Roychoudhury is the CEO of Innovations_Digital.

Facebook cover image guidelines, and Required Image Sizes

Just a quick reminder for every one managing brand pages on Facebook. Here are some things – according to Facebook – that you simply cannot do on the cover:
You should NOT have any references to Facebook User Interface elements such as “Like” or “Share”. You cannot also have any reference to any Facebook site features in there (polls, etc).
Do NOT put any price or discount related information like a coupon, or say “25% OFF FOR ALL FANS” on the cover photo.
NO CONTACT or link info is allowed on the cover photo. So, don’t put any web adresses, link info, contact info, email addresses, web addresses, etc. That stuff goes on the About Us section.
No CALL TO ACTION such as “Share This”, “Tell a Friend” or “Get it Today”.
Finally, do make sure you own the image itself, or at least have the rights to it. Size is always 851 x 315 pixels.
And here are the sizes for all images that go on Facebook brand pages:
  • Cover photo: 851 x 315
  • Profile picture: 180 x 180
  • Thumbnail image for apps: 111 x 74
  • Highlighted & milestone images: 843 x 403
  • Images within wall posts display as 404 x 404.
At Innovations_Digital, a digital marketing agency in Dubai, we work closely with our client’s brands to deliver engaging and endearing Facebook brand experiences. Please drop us a line at if you would like to know more about how we can work together.
First posted on the Innovations blog page.

Make us a viral video. The tough brief.

Here in the Middle East, more and more clients are asking for it. Every digital agency is now claiming expertise in creating "viral videos". But honestly, it's every media or creative agency's nightmare. The so called viral video. When the client briefs in a "viral video", you've got a big problem. Because to start with, you can't "make" a viral video. You can make a nice, catchy video and hope it goes viral, but there are no  guarantees. The"viral video" category is a happy accident. It's not by plan.
A video that goes viral is usually one that has at least 10,000+ views on YouTube, about 1000+  shares in a 24-hour period, has repeating interest of the viewer, has content that inspires "unaided" sharing, and of course a potentially wide bandwidth of audience interest. And they're usually short (Kony 2012 being an exception).
A video that one hopes will go viral is solid on content to start with. The concept has to be instantly attention grabbing, fresh, relevant. With today's trend becoming yesterday's "404 Page Not Found" in this ever changing digital savvy world, one needs to focus hard on being up to date. You can keep track of what's hot, what's not by checking out the trend charts on this site. And you can watch some of the top ones from 2011 here.
Most videos that go viral are short. The first 30 seconds are crucial. It's like a tv spot. The attention has to be grabbed in 30. Short, sweet, shareable. Brands that come to  agency with "viral video" briefs need to realize that content needs to be less on brand and more on emotion and relevance. With a video intended to go  viral, it's important to use the right title, easy and memorable keywords, and of course a blockbuster thumbnail.
From a brand standpoint, working closely with the agency (both content and media), towards driving the sharing momentum is key. Optimizing the video for sharing is a good starting point, but beyond that it's identifying the first batch of targets (either accidental and hopeful or planned and orchestrated). It's important to define channels of first contact – these should be relevant to both the topic and to the target audience. Tweets and re-tweets, blog posts, email sharing and facebook wall posting all work better in the early stages than say, a "watch our video" tagline at the bottom of a print ad i a magazine or outdoor.
If you look at some of the videos that went massively viral, there are some unique hallmarks that stand out. The title of the video is important – short, interesting, attention grabbing. So is the thumbnail. The thumbnail isn't the first frame of the video – it should be the single most attention grabbing, share inspiring single frame from the video. And, in many cases, it depends on the "viral sneezer" – the viewers who propagate the sharing – trusted friends, celebrities, news channels covering it, etc. There is a herd mentality in every successful "viral video" that's notched up the charts. Viewers like to watch (and share) what many, many others are watching.