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Top 5 trends within the MENA media industry for 2016

Top 5 trends within the MENA media industry for 2016

Agency UM MENA predict the highlights that will shape the region’s industry this year

Empowering brands with wearables

So far only 7 per cent of active internet users own a wearable device. A further 13 per cent will consider purchasing wearable technology this year. Even among early adopters, 25 per cent are using these wearable gadgets only for fitness tracking purposes. And at least half reported losing interest within six months. So are wearables doomed to be shelved as fails, along with the Segway and the Zune? Not quite.

Adoption of wearables will depend on cost and scope of use. But psychology will also play an important role. Opportunities abound for content within wearables. Now is the time for businesses to contemplate their relationship with this potential content goldmine, offering a way for the consumer to connect more easily, be happier and more entertained while on the move. It all rests on a fundamental human truth: people need things that help them improve their lives in some way.

To become a ‘necessity’, wearables need to help people improve their lives. For brands to leverage this successfully, they should consider this powerful psychological need.

Data: does it matter?

Every two days, we generate as much data as we did from the dawn of time until 2003. If you were to store all the data generated online in the last two years on floppy disks, the number of disks needed would reach as far as the earth to the sun. But this isn’t the Trivial Pursuit board game and we’re sure you are well aware by now of the sheer data volume we are creating and giving away.

The question is how can brands use that information in meaningful ways without being overwhelmed by its crushing weight. What are the rules around using big data versus small data? When should marketers be looking at fewer data points, rather than more? And is more necessarily better?

The future power of big data lies in taking a step further into ‘prescriptive analytics’. The objective of prescrip- tive analytics is not only to predict future outcomes but also to make recommendations based on those outcomes. In focusing on the what, when and why of future events it attempts to answer the questions ‘now what?’ or ‘so what?’ and it com- pletely changes the game of big data.

We don’t expect prescriptive ana- lytics to become mainstream in 2016. It will take a while longer. But ‘The Internet of Things’ will become its widest application. Take Google’s self-driving car, for example. At every junction it makes multiple decisions about what to do based on predic- tions of future outcomes. So the IoT would make everyday objects – your watch, your refrigerator, your ther- mostat – learn from your habits to make smarter, more personalised recommendations. Yet, so far, it hasn’t really caught on.

The real power of this new data capability is the extent to which it can enable brands to create experiences and deliver communications which add genuine value to consumers lives. We are getting there. In 2016, the focus needs to be on being there in real-time, always on, not only responding to trending topics. The ‘Oreo moment’ is so 2013. We need to anticipate and predict trends.

The only marketing left

And the buzzword of the year award goes to… content. The challenge is in dealing with this all-encompassing umbrella term.

In the evolutionary cycle of adapt or die, we are now at inflection point. Globally, ad-blocking technology grew by 48 per cent in 2015, becom- ing a major disruptor for digital advertising and costing publishers over $22 billion a year. Consumers are now masters of their own online destiny. They have complete control over what, when and how they consume media. This is an existential crisis for our industry and the way to tackle it is through a fundamental turning of the tables – by placing content first.

The debate between short form and long form is not the focus here. It depends on the quality of what you’re producing. Consumers will hang around for long content but more often than not they’re looking for snackable content on the go, in the form of 15-second videos or 140 characters. Unless brands become more agile, think smaller and away from mainstream media, long-lasting relationships with consumers will become more difficult to build.

Multi-screening is the new mainstream

Around 50 per cent of the MENA population watches online videos on a daily basis compared with only 30 per cent approximately in Europe and the United States. Saudi Arabia has the highest YouTube content consumption per capita in the world, with over 90 million views per day. In fact, YouTube’s reach in this region comes only second to MBC1, the highest rating television channel. And while TV is predominantly watched in the evening, YouTube is prime-time all the time, interactive and essentially TV ‘in your pocket’.

But is YouTube content really taking over long form TV consump- tion? If we look at TV viewership over the years, we barely see any decrease. Despite definite shifts in video content consumption world- wide, people are watching roughly the same amount of TV as they did before.

So let’s put this debate to rest for now. Online video didn’t kill the TV star. Instead, they got married and had a baby, which we’re calling multi- screen integration. While some marketers are wary of multi-screen- ing as a ‘distraction’, it is in fact an open door for engaging connections that were never possible when con- sumption involved just one screen.

There’s no reason why online video and TV can’t play nice together. At the end of the day, when they do, brands are able to increase their reach marginally and create more meaning- ful engagement. So, let’s put our money where our mouth is by thinking about integrated, platform-neutral video solutions.

Start learning Farsi

It is every marketer’s dream come true – a market with a population of 78 million. That’s almost as much as Egypt and three times the size of Saudi Arabia. These young, educated consumers are hungry for goods, luxury products and technology. In today’s globalised world, it remains one of the few truly emerging mar- kets. And it’s finally opening up.

Iran may be a marketer’s dream come true but it is also a marketer’s worst nightmare. International sanc- tions may be lifted gradually, but internal conditions will take a while to loosen. Agencies with a strong local presence in Saudi Arabia will have the largest competitive advan- tage. They already have experience treading carefully and creatively around restrictions. But when the Iranian media market opens up, it will have sizeable impact on MENA media inflation.

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