MENA is a high potential market for Digital media. Regional statistics show that there are 31m million people connecting on Facebook on a daily basis, of which 17 million are online via mobile, while monthly figures stack up at 59 million and 36 million on mobile, Kitra observed.
Facebook is at the centre of the shift to mobile. People are deeply engaged with Facebook, in fact, 90 per cent of smartphone owners read their News Feed at least once a day and 63 per cent read it several times a day or are constantly checking it.
According to the TradeArabia News Service, Digital advertising spend in the Mena region, which reached $300 million last year, is increasing at 37 per cent per year and could reach $1 billion in 2017, a study said.
“Digital advertising is the fastest growing segment in the region – and not surprisingly,” said Tom Roychoudhury, chief innovations officer of Middle East Communications Network (MCN). “With a majority of the population under 25 – who spend a significant portion of their wake time online, digital advertising is the only real channel for brands to engage today's target audience in the region."
The GCC leads this, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the digital ad market leader board, he said.
Meanwhile, Global ad spend is on track to grow by 5.5 per cent this year and reach $537 billion, with online ad spend accounting for nearly one-quarter of the staggering amount.
Global interest in mobile advertising is also surging: mobile ad spend grew 105 per cent in 2013 and is expected to reach $31.5 billion globally.
This is also mirrored in Mena, where mobile ads grew by 58pc to reach $85 million in 2013 (compared to $50 million the previous year).
“Smartphone penetration and hours spent online in the Arab world, and the GCC in particular, are amongst the highest worldwide,” says Zafer Younis, co-founder at The Online Project.
“Traditional media in these countries is still heavily controlled and monitored by the government. So, I do expect our region to be fast in switching to digital. The consumers have already made the shift, advertiser will follow shortly.”
The increasing interest in digital and mobile advertising is disrupting the traditional business of ad agencies, many of whom are restructuring their organizations and building digital capacities to enable them to better serve their clients’ digital marketing needs.
Chief innovation officers, like Roychaudhury and Yousef Tuqan of Leo Burnett, are in many cases charged with leading this transformation. “We have seen the steady evolution of communications and content from analog to digital, and from digital to mobile and social,” stated Tuqan. “Any successful communicator, in the GCC or anywhere else, must adapt to this new paradigm."
Digital marketing and advertising are key topics that will be discussed in depth at the upcoming ArabNet Digital Summit, taking place on June 3-5 at Atlantis Hotel, The Palm, Dubai. The conference will include Ad+Tech Academy, a full day of workshops on digital, social, mobile, and video advertising. ArabNet's summit is set to convene more than 1,000 executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and media from the four corners of the world.
More than 130 speakers will gather during the event to discuss the latest digital opportunities shaping the Arab digital industry.