TECOM Media Cluster hosted a panel discussion in Dubai, as part of the Thought Incubator Series, a debate centred on the rapid shift in new platforms and creative approaches. The session was entitled Advertising Trends in the Arab Region: The Present and the Future. Leading this panel was a selection of high profile advertising experts; […]
TECOM Media Cluster hosted a panel discussion in Dubai, as part of the Thought Incubator Series, a debate centred on the rapid shift in new platforms and creative approaches. The session was entitled Advertising Trends in the Arab Region: The Present and the Future.
Leading this panel was a selection of high profile advertising experts; Jonathan Labin, head of Facebook MENA in Dubai, Youssef Toqan, CEO of Flip Media, Joe Marritt, general manager at Motivate Publishing (Abu Dhabi), Sarah Messer, director of media at Nielsen, Steve Smith, COO of Arabian Radio Network, and Nadim Samara, general manager of OMD Dubai. The session was moderated by Mamoon Sbeih, managing director of APCO Worldwide, Arab Region.
The discussion focused on how advertising players in the Middle East often rely on global trends to forecast media developments and how it must be understood that most of these trends are hardly relevant to the region. According to Nadim Samara, general manager at OMD Dubai, it is essential that specifics are kept in mind when it comes to predicting and planning ahead.
Samara added: The single consistent factor between all advertisers is the need for accountable and effective media and communication solutions for addressing business challenges. This will remain a key influencer in shaping the media and advertising industry in the region and worldwide.
Managing director of TECOM Investments Media Cluster, Mohammed Abdullah, said: We acknowledge the role of advertising in the development of the media industry. However, it is also essential to recognise that providing content that draws higher audience interest will inevitably surge advertising revenues. Additionally, both platforms require a creative approach and world-class technology. In order to enhance the media sector as a whole, dialogue is essential. TECOM Investments Media Cluster is committed to providing the industry with platforms such as the Thought Incubator series to discuss challenges and identify solutions.
The print industry worldwide is currently facing challenges such as the reduction in overall advertising spend, as well as the migration of some of the major print companies to online platforms. Magazines, however, particularly in this region, continue to enjoy a healthy pan-Arab circulation despite their relatively small contribution to the total print advertising spend.
According to a Dubai Press Club report titled Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015, advertising expenditure dropped by 30 per cent in Egypt, 45 per cent in Bahrain and 45 per cent in Libya.
The report, however, predicted that spending on advertising will continue to grow by an average annual rate of 5.9 per cent until 2015 as a result of an anticipated economic recovery in Egypt and the growth of advertising over digital and mobile platforms. Deloitte also reported the pan-Arab advertising spend would reach USD 285 million by the end of 2012, with an estimated climb up to USD 597 million by 2017.
Yousef Tuqan, CEO of Flip Media, said: Although the Middle East’s media landscape has been slow to evolve until now, the reality today is that no one in the media industry is immune to the changes sweeping the globe. Advertisers are becoming more demanding and consumers are becoming more fickle, and the challenge is upon everyone to evolve their offering, find new ways to grow our industry and deliver value to advertisers.
The Arab Media Outlook 2011-2015 report also explained how the digital platform will witness the highest growth in the coming years as a sizeable population of well-informed and socially engaged young people drive consumption of media on the internet and mobile platforms.
Experts headlining the event, however, concurred that the region still faces a mismatch between the share of digital advertising in total advertising spend with regards to the relative importance of the platform from a media consumption angle. A correction of this distortion could, therefore, be the need of the hour, the panellists pointed out.
Head of operations at Facebook MENA, Jonathan Labin, commented: These past few years have been difficult for media organisations and advertisers. Faced with rapid change, it is understandable that some chose to wait and see how the dust would settle. However, fortune favours the bold, and those that made the leap and engaged with new mediums such as Facebook are now reaping the benefits. They understand what works and what doesn’t, how to interact with consumers, and the role that social media plays in the broader sales and marketing mix. Fortunately it is never too late to get on board, and through our presence in the Middle East, Facebook is working directly with clients to share those lessons and explore new creative opportunities.
Audience and advertising revenues remain concentrated more than ever for the Arab television industry around a small number of pan-Arab free-to-air channels, while the penetration of pay TV across the Arab region remains low. Conversely, out-of-home advertising, which includes cinema advertising, remains the most stable part of the market.
According to Nielsens quarterly Global Ad View Pulse report, advertising spend is on the rise around the globe and across media types. Media vehicles such as TV, newspapers, radio, outdoor, internet, and cinema saw an increase in spending at the beginning of 2012 compared to last year.
Sarah Messer, director of media at Nielsen, said: The Arab Spring is not the only thing changing politically and economically in front of our very eyes; the media landscape is evolving rapidly too. This is bringing with it new platforms that are converging in different ways, new channels, growing and fragmenting audiences and a deeper hunger for more content.
However, these changes come against the backdrop of a galvanised, younger audience who want to interact with the media and have avenues to voice their opinions. All of this creates new challenges for media owners, media agencies and advertisers in staying ahead of audience mind-sets and behaviours, and in continuing to innovate and measure across this multi-format landscape in a cost effective way.
Steve Smith, COO of Arabian Radio Network, said: Radio is no longer about what is just coming out of an FM radio receiver. Being successful in this industry is about creating great content that can be delivered across multiple platforms.