The most experiential
Tech Festival You'll See in 2018

STEP Digital focuses on the most forward thinking topics and global trends on digital, advertising technology, content, and media.

STEP Digital

STEP Digital will feature exhibitions, workshops, and talks from global influencers in the digital media industry.

Speakers

More Speakers will be announced soon

Raju Narisetti

Gizmodo Media Group

Raju Narisetti

Gizmodo Media Group

Raju Narisetti is the CEO of Gizmodo Media Group​,​ ​at​ Univision Communications Inc, a ​portfolio​ ​of digital journalism ​sites that includes some of the the web's most beloved and authentic brands​, ​​including Gizmodo, Jezebel, Dead ​s​pin, ​Kotaku, ​Jalopnik​, Splinter, Lifehacker​​, Earther​ and The Root. A media executive with a track record in creating, rethinking and managing major media organizations ​in North America, Europe and Asia, Raju was most recently Senior Vice-President of Strategy at News Corp. Prior to that, he was Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, where he is responsible for WSJ's digital​/​mobile content strategy and execution; ​the ​Managing Editor of The Washington Post, where he led the integration of its digital and print businesses; ​the ​Editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe; and ​is ​​the ​Founder of Mint, the second-largest business newspaper​/​website in India. H​is home is in Brooklyn though he is often found, rather plainspoken, @raju

Charli Ursell

PHD UAE

Charli Ursell

PHD UAE

Charli has over 11 years of global media experience, known for her expertise and leadership in digital planning operations and efficiencies. She began her career as Planner with Mindshare London. Today, she is the Senior Director of Digital Planning and Data for PHD UAE, responsible for directing the agency’s digital and data initiatives and managing a growing team of over 30. Throughout her career, Charli has applied a curious and committed approach, offering her expertise in the digital space on both brand-and performance-led campaigns. Using her knowledge in areas of automation, Artificial Intelligence, programmatic planning, and the all- encompassing future of technology in media, Charli has spearheaded the agency’s service and structure redevelopment, as well as employee training programs to ensure PHD remains the agency of the future. Some of her projects include work on future-facing technology and search strategies, pioneering new technology and measurement solutions, data-led creative approaches, digital-first TV planning and an entirely new method for competitive analysis using index methodology to benchmark brand success versus that of competitors for her clients. Charli’s implementation of digital products and practices within the agency have been integral to PHD UAE’s notable success, having grown six-fold and become a major market player in just 10 years and most recently, named ‘Most Effective Media Office 2017’. Charli is a contributor to several industry publications, which most recently, includes authoring the feature article, ‘Why big data needs big AI’, in Campaign Middle East. During her career, Charli has worked as a Planner for Mindshare London, and Account Manager for Facebook London. She later relocated to Dubai for a role as Digital Media Supervisor for Initiative UAE before joining PHD UAE in 2013 as Digital Lead. Outside of work, Charli enjoys spending time with her young son and daughter, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and painting.

Fahad Albutairi

Fahad Comedy

Fahad Albutairi

Fahad Comedy

The first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in Saudi Arabia and in the GCC. He is also an actor, a writer and a renowned YouTube personality.

Ravi Rao

Mindshare

Ravi Rao

Mindshare

Has a track record in marketing, account management and media. A management graduate with a career of 25+ years in advertising & media for Unilever, PepsiCo, P&G, Henkel, Mars, Wrigley, FedEx, Dubai Holding, he comes back for a second stint in the MENA region. He was earlier with Mindshare India managing South Asia and is now the CEO for Mindshare MENA since 2016. He loves to paint, yearns to be an archaeologist in the far future, but continues to be fascinated with developments in new media.

Vural Cifci

Starz Play

Vural Cifci

Starz Play

More than 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Online Marketing and Business Intelligence, identifying key digital marketing opportunities, developing strategic recommendations and implementation plans, and lead/partner with local/regional commercial teams to execute in support of regional and local commercial objectives. Vural is currently Vice President, Digital Marketing at STARZ PLAY, responsible for managing all Digital Channels, Customer Marketing, Creative Services and Content Teams as well as Web Analytics and Channel Optimization. Before his role at STARZ PLAY, Vural was working as Vice President, Digital at Emirates Airlines, driving overall digital marketing strategy that integrates with broader company objectives and delivers on business. Prior to this, Vural held positions as Director of Acquisition Marketing at Travelocity; Director of Acquisition Marketing at Walgreen Co. and Director of Search Marketing Operations at Expedia Inc. managing search operation for both Expedia and Hotels.com brands. Over the years he has held various search marketing / online marketing roles at DoubleClick, Premier Farnell, and Experian. Before switching to Online Marketing, he started his career as an engineer and held various project management and consulting roles at Deloitte&Touche and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Vural holds an MBA from Roosevelt University and a BS in Petroleum Engineering from Istanbul Technical University. He currently lives in Dubai with his wife and two kids.

Kaan Kaayabali

Onedio

Kaan Kaayabali

Onedio

First took on the power of Onedio with the idea that civil journalism would develop in 2010, started his work in the technopark located at METU in 2011 and started to realize his idea. Onedio, which was originally thought to be a blog for serious news, turned into a platform where you can watch the most popular news, photos and videos of the Internet today.

Benjamin Ampen

Twitter

Benjamin Ampen

Twitter

Twitter's Head of Revenue for the MENA region. Since joining Twitter in 2012, Ampen has launched the company’s sales activities in France, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy. More recently, he launched Twitter’s operations in the region in August 2015 in Dubai. Prior to joining Twitter, Ampen worked at Google for four years, where he spent his last year as an Industry Manager spearheading the business development team across the UK and EMEA region. Ampen has also previously worked at Universal McCann and Detecon Consulting. He holds three Master's Degrees in Management from highly esteemed universities in London, Germany, and Paris.

Hussein Dajani

Head of Digital Marketing at Nissan

Hussein Dajani

Head of Digital Marketing at Nissan

Has over 17 years of solid Marketing Communication experience in the space leading and building integrated marketing practices within multinational agencies (JWT, Leo Burnett, and TBWA\) and client side (Fortune 500 companies - Virgin Mobile and Red Bull), across the Middle East and Africa region. Hussein was among the first batch of WPP MENA employees to receive the renowned WPP Young High Potential Leaders award from Sir Martin Sorrell (Chairman and Worldwide President of WPP) and Bob Jeffrey (ex Chairman and Worldwide President of JWT). Recently, by nomination from the Global Chairman and Patron of the World Marketing Congress, Hussein has been featured in the 50 most influential digital marketing leaders listing for 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, Hussein has been voted by the Huffington Post as among the 10 people changing the marcomm landscape in the MENA region, and in Gulf Marketing Review's GMR’s list of 40 of the brightest marketing professionals under the age of 40 in the Middle East. At present, after a 2 years stint with hug digital as its Chief Operating Officer where he grew gross billing grew by 9% &12.5% and revenues by 21% & 26.5%, won 27 out of 29 pitches in MENA across various verticals, and built, the first of its kind in the MENA region, a state of the art Social Intelligence Hub (Command Center) for analysis of data in real time on all social platforms and online portals, Hussein joins Nissan as General Manager Digital Marketing for AMI region (Africa, Middle East, Turkey and India) to be responsible for its Digital Transformation, CRM deployment, and Digital Customer Experience. Furthermore, Hussein plays an active role in the advisory council of the World Marketing Congress. Hussein is also a speaker at various conferences throughout the EMEA region, a weekly guest speaker on numerous TV and Radio stations, and a jury member in renowned global festivals.

Abed Agha

Vinelab

Abed Agha

Vinelab

Has more than 18 years of multi-disciplinary experience in technology, media, and financial services having worked with leading institutions in MENA, South-East Asia and the US. Abed is the founder and CEO at Vinelab, the leading digital media company that enables brands to acquire and influence regional audiences through a multitude of influential figures across popular culture. By leading a tech and digital-first institution, Abed has acquired exceptional understanding of the underlying changes that social media has brought to shift the balance of power between the mass, corporations and cultural elite. Prior to Vinelab, Abed lead Mubasher Financial Group’s transformation that pushed the FinTech firm to top equity trading volumes and market share in the UAE consistently despite thefinancial crisis of 2008. Prior to that, Abed spent a few years within the financial services sector across the globe with firms such as Standard Chartered Bank and Capital Credit and invested in multiple technology firms that enabled him to witness the digital economy’s early development. Abed is currently a board advisor at the Beirut Arab University’s school of Maths and Computer Science, in addition to advising a multitude of digital startups in the MENA region. He holds a BSc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

Mamta Varerkar

Tonic International

Mamta Varerkar

Tonic International

The Growth officer at Tonic, a leading independent agency in Dubai (http://www.tonicinternational.com/) With more than 11 years of experience in Advertising and Communications, Mamta has been consistent in delivering efficient campaigns that give the clients an unfair advantage and achieve their marketing and business objectives. She is passionate about creating communication that cuts through the clutter. Mamta is especially passionate about Digital solutions, and was heading the Digital team at Tonic before she took on the role of the Growth officer. She is responsible for business development, client relationships and talent growth and education.

Wassim Jammal

Starcom

Wassim Jammal

Starcom

More than 11 years of experience in Media Planning, Buying and Operations across multiple industries. Wassim joined Starcom in 2008 and started working on Emirates. In 2011 he moved to P&G as the buyer across several categories. Afterwards, Wassim led the P&G buying team across MENA focusing on building team capabilities, negotiations & operations, driving digital knowledge, measurement, automation, etc... Wassim currently has a dual role; Digital & Innovation Lead across P&G MENA and he’s the Head of e-Commerce at Starcom MENA.

Tanaz Dizadji

Brand Ripplr

Tanaz Dizadji

Brand Ripplr

The Founder and CEO of insydo, Tanaz has used her background in marketing, finance and tech to build an undercover city guide to Dubai. This search-centric product provides people with curated recommendations and has gained a following of over 500,000 unique visitors per month since its launch in January 2016. In September 2017, Tanaz launched her second company, Brand Ripplr, a micro-influencer marketplace that is set to stir the region’s advertising sector. Graduating with a BSc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Warwick, Tanaz started her career as a chartered accountant in investment management at PwC in London.  Before delving into the world of technology, Tanaz was the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Omnicom Media Group and led philanthropic and artistic projects for the Elephant Parade and START.

Luca Allam

PHD UAE

Luca Allam

PHD UAE

Has over 12 years of global media experience, known throughout the industry as a leader in the integration of digital and offline media approaches and best business practices. He began his career as a Planner and Buyer at Walker Media, a division of the Publicis Group in the UK. Today, he is the Managing Director for PHD UAE, responsible for leading the agency’s day to day operations, overseeing client accounts, and growing a team of over 100. As the leading force behind the PHD mantra, ‘Finding a Better Way’, he has been at the forefront to driving innovation for the agency and establishing a new level of competition for the industry at large. His work includes, championing and elevating the use of SOURCE, PHD’s global operating system used by the network’s 4,000+ employees to offer an unrivaled output for its clients and internal growth amongst the agency’s workforce. Luca’s expertise, leadership and push for technological developments and practices within the agency, have been integral to PHD UAE’s notable success, having grown six-fold and become a major market player in just 10 years and most recently, named ‘Most Effective Media Office 2017’. Keen to inspire and drive the industry agenda forward, Luca has been a speaker and juror at several leading events, including the Dubai Lynx, a regional version of the famed Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Global Cristal Festival, STEP, Young Arab Youth Awards, and MENA Effie Awards, among others. He has also championed the network’s annual thought leadership material on how future technologies will impact media and the implications for brands, presenting at PHD’s regional BrainScape conference since its launch in 2008. During his career Luca has worked in senior planning and digital management roles at leading agencies, moving from Walker Media to OMD as an Account Director. He then relocated to Dubai as Head of Digital at PHD UAE from 2010-2012. In 2014, he was promoted to General Manager, in charge of driving the agency’s digital product, before taking on the role of Managing Director of PHD UAE in 2016. Outside of work, Luca’s interests include climbing to Mount Everest Base Camp, enjoying the theatre, technology, and spending time with his two young nephews.

TJ Lightwala

Mindshare

TJ Lightwala

Mindshare

Began her role at Mindshare in 2013, and is responsible for leading the digital platforms, developing new and relevant product streams, planning and overseeing full end-to-end digital performance growth of clients and internal teams across the MENA region. In 2017, she was appointed as the Future Adaptive Specialist Team (FAST) lead for the region, toensure a 360 approach to client outcomes by putting an integrated performance unit at the heart of the business. She brings in depth digital and product perspective, having worked in the US and the Middle East on both the agency and client sides across many industries. In previous role, she led digital business for Staples USA, Canada, and international businesses at Aegis Media in Boston. She holds her bachelors, from American University in Dubai and Masters in Science, from DePaul University, Chicago.

Mashal Waqar

The Tempest

Mashal Waqar

The Tempest

The co-founder and CTO of The Tempest, the world’s fastest growing online media company for women. Mashal is passionate about accessibility, diversity, and the mechanics of digital and viral content. She was awarded the Young Leader of the Year award at the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum and was listed in the 2018 edition of 40 Women to Watch list. She has played a pivotal role in expanding The Tempest to the Middle East and growing the audience to millions of monthly readers, while heading the online accessibility pivot in the company. She co-manages The Tempest’s 100 remotely-based team members from Dubai. Waqar strongly believes in empowering women and bringing their voices to the forefront; her previous work experience comes from transitioning in roles in cyber security and digital marketing, while working for various startups. Her prior work also includes Deaf accessibility initiatives at her alma mater, a UNHRD project in collaboration with RIT Dubai, to help children in crisis, from a behavioral and neuroscience perspective, and starting RIT’s first-student run publication. She holds an undergraduate degree in Computing Security with double minors in International Business, and Networking & Systems Administrations, was awarded the 2017 President’s Cup award for her contributions to the community. Mashal has given a TED talk on the power of social media, and is also a mentor at Techstars Startup Weekend.

ecosystem partners

What we’re covering

Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Impact of Blockchain

Evolution from Content to Data

Future of Digital Marketing

Apps vs. Web Browsing

Replacement of TV ads spots

Short form vs long form duration of content

Consumer Trends

Publishers as agencies

State of new media companies

The New Agency model

Publishers, Platforms, & Agencies

agenda

Tentative Agenda

STEP Digital
Opening Remarks
Opening Remarks

March 28
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

March 28
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Opening Remarks
Struggle, Pains, & Threats of Publishing Business
Struggle, Pains, and Threats of the Publishing Business: Is the doomsday for publishers nearing? Is consolidation the solution?

March 28
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

March 28
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Struggle, Pains, and Threats of the Publishing Business: Is the doomsday for publishers nearing? Is consolidation the solution?
Artificial Intelligence & Digital Marketing
How Artificial Intelligence will Transform Digital Marketing

March 28
10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

March 28
10:45 AM - 11:00 AM
How Artificial Intelligence will Transform Digital Marketing
Experience or Impressions
Experience or Impressions: The Good and Bad of Programmatic and Do Brands Still Care about Telling Stories?

March 28
11:00 AM - 11:45 AM

March 28
11:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Experience or Impressions: The Good and Bad of Programmatic and Do Brands Still Care about Telling Stories?
Does duration matter
Does duration matter, and did we just discover the short-form less premium is useless and very difficult to monetize?

March 28
12:30 PM - 01:15 PM

March 28
12:30 PM - 01:15 PM
Does duration matter, and did we just discover the short-form less premium is useless and very difficult to monetize?
BREAK
BREAK

March 28
01:15 PM - 02:15 PM

March 28
01:15 PM - 02:15 PM
BREAK
From Content to Data
The Creative Evolution from Content to Data

March 28
03:15 PM - 03:30 PM

March 28
03:15 PM - 03:30 PM
The Creative Evolution from Content to Data
Shifting consumer needs
Shifting consumer needs: From powdered milk to almond milk and when did we start caring about premium water?

March 28
03:30 PM - 04:00 PM

March 28
03:30 PM - 04:00 PM
Shifting consumer needs: From powdered milk to almond milk and when did we start caring about premium water?
Is the future in apps or in web browsing?
We're confused. Is the future in apps or in web browsing?

March 28
04:00 PM - 04:45 PM

March 28
04:00 PM - 04:45 PM
We're confused. Is the future in apps or in web browsing?
Closing Day 1
Closing Day 1

March 28
04:45 PM - 05:00 PM

March 28
04:45 PM - 05:00 PM
Closing Day 1
Opening Remarks
Opening Remarks

March 29
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

March 29
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
Opening Remarks
The digital shift and TV
Is TV becoming digital or digital becoming TV?

March 29
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

March 29
10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Is TV becoming digital or digital becoming TV?
Building modern millennial brands
Building modern millennial brands: From Buy 1 We Donate 1 Tom's model to Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker

March 29
11:15 AM - 12:00 PM

March 29
11:15 AM - 12:00 PM
Building modern millennial brands: From Buy 1 We Donate 1 Tom's model to Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker
Innovation of Audio in Advertising
The Innovation of Audio in Advertising: Anghami, Alexa, Google Home

March 29
12:00 PM - 12:15 PM

March 29
12:00 PM - 12:15 PM
The Innovation of Audio in Advertising: Anghami, Alexa, Google Home
BREAK
BREAK

March 29
12:15 PM - 01:15 PM

March 29
12:15 PM - 01:15 PM
BREAK
Automation of the Future Store
The Automation of the Future Store: How will retail look like in 2050?

March 29
01:15 PM - 02:15 PM

March 29
01:15 PM - 02:15 PM
The Automation of the Future Store: How will retail look like in 2050?
The fear of a social media backfire
The fear of a social media backfire: Racism, sexism, and the politics of modern advertising

March 29
02:30 PM - 03:15 PM

March 29
02:30 PM - 03:15 PM
The fear of a social media backfire: Racism, sexism, and the politics of modern advertising
Closing Day 2
Closing Day 2

March 29
03:30 PM - 03:45 PM

March 29
03:30 PM - 03:45 PM
Closing Day 2