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MENA Advertisers Slow To Warm Up To Mobile Ads

MENA Advertisers Slow To Warm Up To Mobile Ads

Experts say that advertisers are yet to be convinced of users’ receptiveness to mobile ads.

With a high rate of smartphone penetration and a tech-savvy population, the Middle East represents a minefield of opportunities for mobile advertisers.

But experts say that the industry is still far from being utilised to its full potential as advertisers are yet to warm up to this concept.

“Mobile is probably the underserved segment and it is probably the most over looked opportunity in the market today,” said Omar Christidis, founder of the digital hub Arabnet.

“If you look at time spent on media versus ad dollars, the largest gap will be seen in mobile. This was the gap that existed even in developed markets until recently.

“But if you look at statistics, you could see that the amount of ad dollars spent in print is more than the time spent while the amount of dollars spent in mobile is way less than the time spent by people,” he said.

According to Gartner, global mobile advertising spending is estimated to touch $18 billion in 2014 while the spending in the Middle East is estimated to reach $20 million – a meager amount compared to the time spent on the platform.

“It is very similar to advertising on desktop when it started,” said Dirk Henke, managing director Eastern Europe and MEA of Criteo – a retargeting company in digital advertising.

“There were lots of people already using it but advertising dollars did not move there as quickly and it took a long time. We see a similar trend with mobile but I expect it to catch up much quicker.”

Experts say that advertisers are yet to be convinced of users’ receptiveness to mobile ads, making them shy away from investing in the medium.

“The problem with mobile is that the effectiveness of ad models have been questioned. When you click on an ad, it could be finger mistakes and people might not want to interrupt their experience by clicking on ads,” said Christidis.

“Questions such as how can you create an ad that is compelling on mobile that is definitely different than a compelling ad on other platforms and the frame of mind when using a mobile versus a laptop all determines advertising on mobile platforms.”

Henke said that tracking on a mobile platform remains a challenge.

“Some things are not possible there in terms of tracking and targeting. Certain things on desktop don’t work there (on mobiles).

“In online advertising it is important to track users since we are in performance marketing and our clients care about numbers and performance.”

Despite its challenges, mobile advertising is the most effective medium for the e-commerce sector, according to experts.

“I think what is really interesting for mobile is the opportunity for commerce,” said Christidis.

He added that people are more likely to buy if they get a promotion on certain goods when they are in store or through lead advertising or even in app purchases.

“People are willing to buy online as long as the payment infrastructure is clear and easy.”

Henke said that a lot of Criteo’s clients in the e-commerce sector have been recording a large rise in business through their mobile devices. Criteo also recently acquired Edex- a specialised company in tracking users on mobile phones.

“In the mobile environment, we reach the users at a different stage. Mobile can nicely complement the desktop. In the weekend, people tend to go outside and they don’t have their computer with them but instead carry their mobile phones,” said Henke.

“Coming into the mobile space gives advertisers the potential to reach their customers anytime and anywhere.”

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