Estonian emarketing association and awards

altex is nearly 4years old (in May) and when we started there was not much going on in Estonian internet marketing field.

Now I am really pleased to say it’s changed a lot.

altex may have opened up the market but now I feel we can at last say we have an “internet marketing industry” in Estonia.
So to everyone involved, especially altex staff past and present… well done.

Now altex sees competition from all areas: from traditional advertising agencies who create a digital arm (Taevas Digital are one of the strongest IMHO), web development companies who offer added value services (ADM, Frukt, Web Media, Exact, Inspiral/Wiseman…I could go on) , other internet marketing agencies (Dreamgow, MRM, WMG etc), sub-specialists are starting to appear too (Trinidad [usability], Vare&Jaakola [Online PR]) and a number of independent freelancers/one-man-bands including ex-altex’s Oleg aka Advinci)

This is great.
We love competition because it keeps us alert to threats and opportunities, makes the market bigger, and it makes us all, as professionals, better at what we do.
By giving the client more choice it also raises the standard overall but there’s a problem with our new little industry…a couple actually.

1. Awards and Rewards

ERAL (The Estonian Advertising Association) have, up to now, been responsible for the “digital” awards but if you follow the conversation here (NOTE: ERAL WINNERS have been some of the most vocal in the demand for change, not just “sore losers” ;)) you will see that many in the industry (including me) thinks that ERAL have blown it. They are simply not fit to judge emarketing for whatever reason.
So we need a new ways of rewarding great work and making sure it is made public so people are honoured and keen to enter and win.
Plus we must not forget that for some people (not so much altex but this applies to the bigger design/advertising agencies) its really important for the awards to be officially recognised at an international level so that winners can gain entry to European Competitions.

There seems to be a couple of ways forward and I am assuming that ERAL will not be a candidate as they have shown zero respect for our industry so far.

a) Another organisation that can offer the status quo players some credibility and will LISTEN TO THE INDUSTRY could form a new award (or awards). One obvious candidate is the Art Directors Club as they have some Estonian experience and are recognised internationally. You might want to read this (Estonian comment from Velvet’s blog)

b) An insider’s industry award. A benevolent dictatorship / cooperative association. Mika Tuupola has been suggesting something based on the model used in Finland: GrandOne

Personally I think we need to somehow combine the two so the people’s choices are heard but we still have a titular head to gain “traditional respect”.
So I would like to see official awards for some categories and “peoples choices” for others so we get the best of both worlds.

What should the structure/ownership of the organisation be? Mmmm that needs some thought. I just hope greed does not drive the agenda.

I am in dialogue with both ADC and Mika and I am open to discuss/advise with any other potential candidates.
Whilst I do NOT see my role as a main player in the awards I DO want to offer my help to make sure Estonia gets a good system going.

I have also to say that, as a foreigner – a guest in Estonia – I don’t think its right that I should play a leading part. This award should be made by Estonians but expert foreign input from people like me and Mika should be welcomed.

2. Estonian Emarketing / Internet Marketing Association.

I am not the first to have this idea. I know many others have already. But there should be an association and imho it should have the main goal of:

ACTIVELY promoting the commercial interests of the members.

It could provide information, inspiration, assistance and credibility:

*Evidence that emarketing is good (so we persuade more people to buy in) e.g. proof that SEO has good ROI, or why social media helps xyz. These docs would be written by members or be translated version of reputable sources that Estonians would trust.

*A code of practice that members agree to e.g. NO SPAM, no doorways, hidden links, fair pricing, transparent complaints procedure etc.

*Links to presentations by members

*Calendar of events in Estonia

*List and profiles of members so its clear which companies offer what and at what level etc. Profiles can include free speech area and twitter, rss, etc feeds.

*Internal forum/wiki to discuss how to promote the members (in general)

*Members could get negotiated discounts to events etc.

*Association newsletter. One for members and one for non-members.

I obviously have not done a proper stakeholder analysis but whoever takes this on, should.

There would have to be different levels of membership:

*Student and Academics (we want to attract people into the sector don’t we?)
*Freelancers and FIE
*Companies who offer emarketing as an extra (eg an ad agency or web design company)
*Specialist emarketing agencies e.g. altex (and lets not forget mobile[the future] so people like mobi too)

I think it needs some considerable effort to set up and one full time administrator to recruit and promote.

Should it be paid or free?
How do we ensure best practice is followed?
Who decides who can join? and how to kick out rule breakers?

So many questions .. so much time needed.

One of the people who has been looking at the Association idea is Priit Kallas. A week or so ago he said he did not have time and there seemed to be no interest. However it now seems after a bit of prompting that he can find some time and is discussing it with “friends” as there obviously is some interest. The website Priit set up for the association is currently running as an SEO experiment (it only promotes a few companies/individuals).

Pls add your thoughts in Estonian or English here or on Mika’s blog or pingback (please) if you take the conversation somewhere else.

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There are 13 comments .

Jüri Kaljundi

Thumbs up from my side as well, both to what you and Mika have said!

What I would like to see in Estonia would be for all stakeholders in Internet marketing – consultants, developers, media owners, designers and creative people etc – to join in one group and/or event. Until we have in such a small country different groups for different people, it won’t work.

For example yes we could have our own IAB branch (I have been playing with that idea myself), but that would be more on the media owners side. ERAL etc has mostly design and advertising people. Consulting, social media, any niche activities could form something separately. Tech people and startups have Opencoffee, Connect etc. But that would not make much sense, would it?

Today’s marketing is so interconnected, that it works well only if you have a big 360-degree view of it. Everyone must respect what others do. You choose what works and what not based on projects, customers and needs. Sometimes you need to have banners and brand marketing, at other times text ads and search marketing or even pure viral/social marketing. None of them is better than the other. So for any online marketing group or award, you have to keep an open mind and such coverage of all areas, from advertising to consulting, from technical to design, from business models to pure art. Grand One which I really liked and promoted here in Estonia had such a wide coverage of projects, people, viewpoints.

Like for anything in this world, ideas unfortunately do not count. Making this happen is a question of execution and operations == people and resources. Doing it from pure enthusiasm does not work in most cases, even if there is a motivated enthusiastic core group of leaders. So the main question for me would be how to execute these ideas?

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Henrik Aavik

Sure that organisation is needed.

We can open this web-based discussion here, but then again – we do not really need that. I mean open discussion. Lets just do it – meet up, set plans, agree budget and register officially. Priit has juridical organisations body and website, we all know who are companies we should ask there on opening meeting. If someone is accidentally left out, they can always team up with us later. If we get at least 10 companies show up on first event, then i’d say we fly.

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Robin Gurney

I agree. Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.
Talking about the association.
With we had a strong idea and it was pretty well executed. we made a website. got ambassadors in both countries to host launch events in Tallinn and London plus we had e!Uk where we created bridges between Uk and Estonian emarketers BUT STILL in the end it has become a passive body due to lack of committed resources. It ticks along and attracts a few enquiries but its not the proactive machine some members wanted.

It comes down to money because only money will pay the administrator and you cannot rely on member fees alone. so that means funding. private (comes with agendas) and public (ok maybe we will be up and running in 2011).

Who’s got the time and money to start and maintain it?
I figure it would need (rough guess) 100,000 to get started then a full time persons salary with a modest expenses and overhead budget. so lets say year one costs are 500,000 (we dont need to argue exact numbers).

Where are we going to find that?

Of course Henrik dont let me dampen your fire. if you think you make it fly then go go go. But I think like I think Jüri thinks ! I mean we have to have resources allocated before another fine idea dies on its feet.

….I think personally I want to actively help solve the awards issue first as the association question is far more complex but please, someone else feel free to run with the ball in the meantime.
I will be a bit passive on the association question until I understand how we can resource it.

PS An assocaition website could be based on quite cheaply I think

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Henrik Aavik

Ok, I will give it a try. I have some time on wednesday and for friday I will have ready a) draft of statute b) draft of activities and stuff this institution should do and c) draft on budget. I guess it will be based on different income streams, but at least 1000 eek per participating company per month it will cost. About salary – at first it will probaly take 1/5 of ones full job, then more and more. I have few candidates in mind, need to talk with them.

I will not do, but expect you to think of it: 1) all this award thing and metrics etc 2) website conception, what you want to see there, 3) handling what international contacts should be work of this institution?

And then, on friday, lets set down gathering place and date.

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Robin Gurney

hei henrik,
Its great that you are being proactive. Really I applaud that.
But I am not committing to any direction yet.
I am still chewing on all this and as I said I personally will focus on the awards first rather than the association which I see as a separate issue (although they could become connected).
Certainly I have not volunteered to do website strategy or general strategy for the association either but I will happily input on what others come up with (if its in English).

Look forward to seeing what you come up with 🙂

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Jüri Kaljundi

Personally I am also more interested in a good awards/showcase project where all areas of e-marketing get their share of voice than an association or organization. And that itself is a big project itself! Why not start from that only and try to do that well? Of course, if someone wants to tackle the association route, go for it!

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Jüri took words out of my mouth – so nothing to add from my side. You can count with smartAD.

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Robin Gurney

Just to let you know wheels are turning and I hope to report/propose something positive (about awards) next week. I know that people are following this subject closely.

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Henrik Aavik

I probably fail to report something for tomorrow, because creating this umbrella organisations is going to be a bit harder than I thought. I hoped we might have MTÜ and running website already, but seems we are going to start from the scratch. I keep you all posted as well, if I get somewhere.

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Robin Gurney

wow henrik
I thought you were going to DRAFT things. I did not realise you were going to form and activate.
I really hope you meet all the stakeholders interests if you decide to go full steam ahead.
Up to you but consider a wiki approach perhaps?
Good luck

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Henrik Aavik

I am not going to form and activate anything just yet. Wiki might work.

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Robin Gurney

Just had very positive meeting with Mika Tuupola and Janno Siimar ref awards. Progress is being made. Still nothing concrete to announce but “we move forward”.

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