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Sun 17 Dec 2006 04:00 AM

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Top advertisers to shift money from TV to online

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Two of the region's biggest advertisers have slammed television as an advertising medium and revealed they will shift more spend to online and in-store promotions instead.

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Two of the region's biggest advertisers have slammed television as an advertising medium and revealed they will shift more spend to online and in-store promotions instead.

Executives at both Emirates Airline and Unilever claim television advertising no longer has the impact on consumers that it once did and argue that online advertising and other marketing channels could overtake it.

Jan Zijderveld, chairman of Unilever Middle East, said that although he still believed TV is a "powerful mechanism", he was increasingly turned off by its advertising due to the poor quality of the region's programming, cluttered advertising slots, increased competition and the high cost of advertising.

"If you look at the spots, the clutter on TV has increased phenomenally. Also the number of stations has increased and the top stations have probably halved, if not quartered, the amount of their peak viewers," claimed Zijderveld. "Ten years ago a top programme would hit 25% of the population, now it hits less than 10% of the population. And the price of that same spot has gone up."

He said that the poor quality of television programmes meant viewers were also turning to other forms of entertainment such as the internet.

Zijderveld added that one of the most powerful ways of marketing its products was through in-store promotions and that its budget would increasingly shift to in-store and away from television or print.

Steve Wheeler, vice president of advertising at Emirates Airline, said that spending online would dominate the airline's media plans around the world within five years. He also warned that a cap would be placed on television advertising in certain markets.

"The biggest loser will be television advertising, followed by print, magazines and newspapers," he said.

"People are switching it off. If you look at the fragmentation of TV viewing habits, the engagement, the ability to turn off, all these things are well documented."

Wheeler said Emirates would boost its online advertising spending by 45% globally in the next year and would double it in the Middle East. At present, online stands at around 8% of its total ad spend globally but this would rise to around 25% within the next five years, he said.

In the Middle East, Emirates' online ad spend currently stands at around 5% but Wheeler said this would rise to 10% next year, describing this as a "major step change".

Wheeler revealed that Emirates would cap investment in television advertising in many markets, and said this would also take place in this region, albeit at a slower pace.

He also warned broadcasters that they needed to "reinvent themselves" by offering programming and services to other mediums, including online.

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