Digital ad spend seen soaring in Arab world

New report by Deloitte predicts digital media revenues to hit $580m by 2015
Digital ad spend seen soaring in Arab world
(Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 30 Jun 2012 09:42 AM

Digital media will more than double its share of the Arab world's advertising market by 2015, according to a new study by Deloitte.

Its Arab Media Outlook said digital is the fastest growing media platform in the region and accounted for four percent of the total advertising spend in 2011.

However, Deloitte said it expects digital to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent over the next three years, generating about $580m across the region by 2015.

It will account for an estimated 10 percent of the total advertising spend by 2015, the report added.

The Arab Media Outlook also said social networking sites have increased in popularity in part as a result of the Arab Spring.

One platform in particular witnessed a significant increase in users across the Arab region, with Facebook growing by 80 percent in the Arab world in 2011.

Market research carried out in four major Arab countries indicated that 87 percent of the public believe that social media sites, such as Facebook, played an important role in inciting events during the political issues of last year.

Facebook said last month that the MENA region has 45 million monthly active users and 20 million mobile monthly active users.

Santino Saguto, partner in charge for the Telecommunications, Media and Technology (TMT) industry, Deloitte Middle East, said: "Companies and advertisers are aware of the widespread use and importance of Facebook throughout the region, and have tailored their digital strategies to target Middle Eastern users through the platform.

"However, it is a tool that needs to be used properly. It is not just a matter of investing in advertising on Facebook. Rather, companies need to manage a social community."

Female participation in social media in some Arab countries is still relatively low, the Arab Media Outlook said, adding that 90 percent of all internet users in the UAE are on social networking sites.

In addition, frequency of use has significantly increased in the past couple of years with over 65 percent of these users visiting social networks more than once a day in UAE and Saudi Arabia, it said.

The Arabic version of Facebook has captured the lion's share of audience with nearly 90 percent of respondents in Saudi Arabia using it.

Emmanuel Durou, telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) director at Deloitte in the Middle East, said: "The digital advertising market in the region is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years as advertising budgets follow the migration of eyeballs from traditional to digital platforms."

The rise of tablets and smartphones in the Middle East will serve as a driver for this growth, he added.

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