Nearly 90 per cent of Facebook’s 114 million monthly visitors in the Mena region use mobile devices to access social media.
According to Google statistics, 44 per cent of Saudis use YouTube to watch a video on a daily basis, the highest consumption in the world.
Global digital ad spending was just over US$123 billion a year in 2013, and in Mena last year it hit $560 million – less than half a per cent of global spending, according to Wamda’s Trends in mobile advertising in the Middle East.
Globally there are more than 8 billion videos watched every day on Facebook, with more than 500 million people watching videos daily and the Mena region is ripe for a digital advertising revolution.
“In 2011 Facebook’s revenues from mobile was zero, today 78 per cent of our revenues come from mobile,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of Facebook Emea. “Mobile is the most personal device ever for connectivity. You don’t take traditional media to the beach with you, but you will take your mobile. We are having to educate marketeers the world over of the potential in mobile and video.”
Mrs Mendelsohn says Facebook has shifted from being a connector of friends and family to becoming a discovery mechanism for video and relevant material. “Facebook was about text, then about images, but today it’s about video.”
While the globe races ahead with its mobile video ad spend ing, industry experts suggest the Mena region has a more conservative, nuanced approach to the medium. But the key to digital advertising’s growth in the Middle East is increased Arabic content.
“The Middle East growth rate, in digital advertising, has always been incremental and will continue to do so,” said Ashwin Salian, managing partner of the digital marketing agency Clique Interactive. “The Middle East is home to a young population with more and more people heading online to consume content. Internet penetration is incredibly high. With an increase in online users, more content will be consumed, which will lead to increase in ad inventory, thus leading to more digital ad spend.”
Some among the small business community in the UAE have experienced big increases in business by moving to video-based advertising on social media.
“Video has transformed my kids’ edutainment business,” said Mariam Al Kassab, the founder of Kidz Venture. “Whereas with still marketing images we would get comments and questions, video gets people walking through the door. It saves four or five steps to converting a potential customer to a customer.
“I think mums are busy people and reticent to sit and read, but they always have their mobile and can watch a video. Our business has grown exponentially since we started using video to advertise.”
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