Facebook finalises Authorized Sales Partner for Pakistan

Dial Zero has been selected to offer support across advertising, content and payments, including exclusive training opportunities for marketers and decision-makers at media companies and agencies

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SINGAPORE: Following months of being pitted in a five-way bid between Httpool, Viral Edge, East River, and Starcrest Communications, Facebook has awarded the Authorized Sales Partner (ASP) duties to Dial Zero.

Led by Zameer Qureshi, CEO of Starcrest Communications, Dial Zero will offer support across advertising, content, and payments, including exclusive training opportunities for marketers and decision-makers at media companies and agencies.

“We are thrilled to be appointed by Facebook as their Authorized Sales Partner for such a promising market; particularly at a time where Pakistan’s digital industry is booming with a growing SME ecosystem,” said Zameer Qureshi, co-founder & CEO of Dial Zero. “We pledge to be an extension of the Facebook sales team and aims to connect advertisers in Pakistan with the tools, knowledge, and training Facebook has to offer to help them realize their full growth potential. By giving personalized service and customized solutions, we intend to build an eco-system of entrepreneurs who will eventually become Agents of Change. We look forward to this partnership as the beginning of a long and mutually rewarding journey.” 

As an extension of the sales teams at Facebook, an ASP provides local assistance, strategic direction, and expertise across the family of Facebook products: namely WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook. ASPs are vetted, trained, and educated by Facebook to ensure quality service while offering large advertisers a credit line and the possibility to pay locally.

“Pakistan is an important country for Facebook and it is a priority for us to invest in the market and to be closer to the people and businesses here,” said Jordi Fornies, Managing Director of Emerging Markets for APAC at Facebook. “As such, we are happy to bring in Dial Zero as Facebook’s Authorized Sales Partner in Pakistan and believe that with Dial Zero’s robust local market insights and expertise, we can provide better support for businesses and agencies locally to help them emerge stronger from this challenging time and further unlock their potential growth.”

Facebook has historically avoided shortlisting and awarding the ASP to network agencies, to limit platform abandonment and the perceived unfair advantages it creates. For this reason, the ASP bid was awarded to an independently owned Dial Zero, which does not fall under Z2C, we have learned – with ownership split between Zameer Qureshi and Saima Qureshi.

In the APAC region, the dominant ASP has been Httpool, with representation in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar while the ASP in Sri Lanka is Roar Global. In China, Facebook reportedly has 16 ASPs, a market where digital advertising is valued at $8 billion based on pre-Coronavirus estimates.

Valuing Pakistan’s Media Market

According to a post-C19 forecast seen by this reporter, advertisers and agencies in Pakistan are expected to spend $430 million across above the line (ATL), below the line (BTL), and digital mediums during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The media spend is split across TV, digital, print, OOH advertising, brand activations, and radio, with a share of 39pc, 26pc, 14pc, 10pc, 6.3pc, and 2.1pc, respectively. By this account, advertisers and agencies are projected to spend $111.8 million over the course of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the bulk of which will be allocated towards the Google and Facebook duopoly

With regard to the Pakistan market, both advertising leaders have drastically scaled the market development efforts in recent months, with training programs for large advertisers and co-marketing efforts with mobile marketing analytics and attribution platforms. Both social and digital advertising giants have channel partners in Pakistan, operating through agency relationships and growing the market through either in-market consultants or Singapore-based relationship leaders. 

Sources share that the rebate structure offered by Google in Pakistan solely benefits large agencies, with smaller agencies unable to compete on price alone. Market speculators have suggested this partnership model may cause smaller agencies to abandon recommending Google altogether.

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