The Future is Now – Thashrif Gaffoor, Founder & Head of Digital of Jasmin Media

Hailing from a small village in Kandy, Thashrif Gaffoor was fortunate enough to study and work in London. Working for a startup in London, allowed him to engage in various portfolios, which subsequently helped him to establish his own digital agency, Jasmin Media (Pvt) LTD.

“In 2005, I was lucky enough to have a part-time job at a virtual office in London to cover my student working hours. Virtual offices were a very alien concept and atmosphere for me; made worse by the fact that this virtual office was a start-up and I was employee numero uno. The deep end had become home by this stage and I had adopted a swim or sink mentality which helped me learn and grasp everything thrown at me.”

Thashrif is the Founder and Head of Digital of Jasmin Media. He founded the organisation in 2008 with a small team of developers, and he has been helping clients to make the most of digital for over a decade. Moreover, he provides consultancy services to some of the biggest brands in the UK.

Jasmin Media has had the opportunity to work with renowned Sri Lankan and European oraganisations such as Volvo Cars, Red Bull, Stage Coach, Expedia, Best Western Hotels, Abans, David Pieries Motor Company, Hemas and a few financial institutions seeking niche results.

The pandemic has taken its toll on consumers, as well as businesses, by changing the way people work, shop and spend their free time. Digital solutions, such as delivery applications, contactless payments and mobile banking, have become a go-to option for consumers in need of a way to efficiently manage their daily tasks, yet remain as safe as possible during the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking about digitalisation and the need for it during pandemics, Thashrif stated, “We are moving from an offline world to an online world and that space is changing as we speak. For example, Facebook has become a website that allows a person to decide if his/her dorm mate was pretty or not to a universe of two billion people that changes the fate of countries. Last year, Facebook announced the launch of its digital currency ‘Libra’ – this sums up the evolution. There are nearly seven million Facebook users in Sri Lanka, and hence the way we use marketing has to change and adapt accordingly.

“More recently, the pandemic has increased the amount of time people spend online, including how products, brands, and organisations are researched. Many Sri Lankans bought something online for the very first time during the lockdown period.”

Furthermore, he noted that the digital potential has not been fully exploited by Sri Lanka and hence organizations are not aggressively investing in digitalization.

“We will be a world beater, if we can get our digital marketing professionals to get up to speed with our talent pool. There is a big knowledge gap here between the top decision makers in terms of what the digital space can deliver. The term marketing leads people to assume that digital marketing can be handled by the traditional marketing team, which is the primary mistake made. To most, digital marketing is a portion of the marketing budget to put away. The absence of the technical expertise is a frustrating factor. I assume that companies here have not yet completely understood that digital investment will only continue to increase and that they are not building up a base to make use of it with the right talent.”

According to Thashrif, in order to be prepared and to compete with the rest of the world, Sri Lanka should keep in line with the global digital marketing trends.

“I think voice search would be a fascinating development in the market place over the next few years and businesses would do very well to be prepared and adapt their strategies accordingly. TikTok looks likely to continue its reign as the big and exciting new platform.

“Social media also makes it easier to go from discovery to purchase seamlessly, particularly given the pandemic situation that is likely to last a few more years, and the first movers in this space would have a distinctive advantage. The underlying, inter connecting themes among these changes will change everything about business and Sri Lanka would do well to be prepared.”

The use of artificial intelligence in business operations and practices will become a necessity in the future, and it will change everything about everything we know.

“It is a matter of time before ‘Siri’ or ‘Amazon Alexa’ places an order in a supermarket for you to pick up your groceries. Siri will let the supermarket know when you are five mins away. It is already happening elsewhere,” the industry expert stated. “Consumers are going to stop browsing hundreds of products to make purchasing decisions, they would want to know the five most qualified options to suit their needs, Artificial Intelligence is the catalyst making this possible in this sphere.

Stating what opportunities Thashrif perceives for the organisation and the industry, he stated that Jasmin Media is expecting change in the UK given the Brexit is changing the entire dynamic, and hence it is placing itself to benefit from the changes.

“The Sri Lankan Digital media space is changing and we expect a big boom in this space at some point in the next two to five years. It is still too early to say what avenues are going to open up as it will depend on what ends up being the catalyst for this upward trend to start. Curiously it should have been the pandemic but the overall blanket trimming of budgets has more or less let that opportunity go.”

In conclusion, Thashrif claimed that the correct ROIs, KPIs and the right platforms must be identified for businesses to succeed in the digital space.

“Just a handful of businesses pay attention to this in Sri Lanka. Taking Search Marketing into consideration, at Jasmin Media we are managing campaigns where the investment to sell a Rs. 200,000 product is less than Rs. 250. By doing so, great ROIs could be achieved. The 1% you need to aim with such precision can be identified by no other avenue other than a direct referral.

“I hope that the key decision makers are educated by the industry experts so that, we, as a nation, could reap the rewards of digitalisation.”

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