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30 Seconds On The Business Of…Digital Media Market

30 Seconds On The Business Of…Digital Media Market

Gulf Business speaks to Ali Nehme, managing director-digital, Starcom Mediavest Group, Middle East and North Africa.

How big is the Middle east’s digital media market?

The market’s adspend in the region is somewhere between $360 and $420 million. From a geography perspective, Saudi Arabia is the priority for most of the advertisers, yet the UAE remains the spend hub as most of the multinational companies operate locally.

While the share of digital in overall spend has grown, it remains low when compared to western markets. Why is that? The MENA region is relatively small when compared to western markets like the US and Europe. Furthermore, the market here started fairly late – about seven years later – in adopting digital, when compared to other markets. That being said, the YoY growth in MENA is faster than any other market.

What are the main challenges?

There is a big education gap when it comes to our market, where almost all of the clients need to understand the benefits of digital.

To start with, ad spend per head is relatively lower in our region. Moreover, internet penetration is considerably lower in most countries with the exception of the UAE and Qatar, given their advanced infrastructure.

Research in this market is also lagging behind, and agencies/advertisers do not have the same access to data as other markets.

What are the biggest benefits of adopting digital?

Digital offers more addressable communication, real-time distribution and measurement and ROI tracking. The results are optimised based on the data available; in other words, brands won’t find what digital offers anywhere else. Media agencies cannot afford not to include digital in their planning; it’s where the shift is happening globally.

Where do you see the industry headed in the near future?

We will see a bigger shift geared towards programmatic buying, with more real-time data and convergence modeling. There will also be a bigger synchronisation between TV and video.

Additionally, the need for third party data to better understand ROI will undoubtedly increase. Consequently, more agencies will have to partner with technology companies, such as Google and Facebook in the region.

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