Reliable viewer figures could bring a $2bn bonanza in TV ad spending

Lack of accurate audience figures proving an obstacle

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Accurate measurement of Arab television audiences would prompt a US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) increase in advertising revenue in the region, according to a report by the management consultancy AT Kearney. Just $7 per capita is spent on TV advertising in the Arab world compared with $71 in Germany, $113 in the UK and $229 in the US. The lack of accurate audience figures is the most important obstacle to increased spending in the sector, said Dr Martin Fabel, a media consultant at AT Kearney Middle East. "Robust audience measurement is important for the media sector as a whole. It will not only help advertisers and channels optimise value but also attract investment from non-regional companies by improving transparency and reducing risks," Dr Fabel said.

If audience measurement systems were introduced across the Arab world, this development would prompt an additional $2bn of advertising spending within five years, he said. "There are other factors but in our view the lack of audience measurement is the key growth blocker." In the UAE, the local media and telecoms regulators recently agreed to launch the TV Audience Measurement Project (TAM) in the hope it would lead to a better understanding of viewing habits. But audience measurement is rare in the Arab world, said Mazen Hayek, the spokesman and group director of public relations and commercial at MBC Group.

"There's a big if in [AT Kearney's] report. In the Arab world, audience measurement is done only in Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey. Assuming you can have audience measurement in 22 Arab countries at the push of a button is a dream come true. Having said that, audience measurement is extremely important to the industry, to be able to assess audiences and the migration of audiences."