Ikoo: Isam Bayazidi

The quickest growth for online advertising in the Arab world will now take place outside the UAE, says Ikoo CEO Isam Bayazidi

Putting his busy day on hold, Isam Bayazidi walks into a meeting room ready to dissect his views on the digital advertising space.

As CEO of Ikoo, an integrated digital marketing solution provider, Bayazidi works with publishers across the region to provide them with the capability to maximise their sales from online advertising.

Having stepped foot in a range of countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, Bayazidi’s experience paints a pretty informative picture.

“Since 2002 or 2003… online advertising had been growing at least 50 percent annually,” he says.

Between 2008 and last year, constant growth has been witnessed.

“Every year, you find that people are starting to work online, to spend online,” Bayazidi adds. “And the other thing is that, especially in the peak of the economic crisis in 2008 and the years afterwards, more international advertisers started to look at their marketing budgets more wisely.

“They started to look at advertising that could be measured in a better way… and online had always proven to have better measurement capabilities than all other media,” he adds.

That ability to measure metrics has acted as a means to convince individuals to switch their advertising spending from other forms of media to the online realm.

“Last year, it is expected that the growth for digital media in the Arab region was at least 45 to 50 percent,” says Bayazidi, adding: “In the UAE market, it is at least a 40 percent increase from last year. If you go to Saudi, or other GCC countries, to North Africa, it is even higher.”

The UAE has had something of a headstart in the online world. Back in 2002, 2003 and even 2004, when advertising spending was almost nonexistent all across the region, the Gulf state was a spending hub for all the international players, Bayazidi recalls.

“But, because of the size of the market, with the UAE being a smaller market in terms of population, other larger markets are expected to have higher growth and higher share,” he explains.

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