OMD at ArabNet Digital Summit 2018

In the sixth edition of ArabNet’s digital summit in Dubai, OMD partnered with the platform to offer insight and ignite discussion around the key trends happening in the industry right now.

Waseem Afzal, GM of Transact, delivered the keynote on day one, opening the Ad Tech forum to debate topics around data management platforms, attribution and new targeting technologies.

The first panel of the day focused on the changing role of agencies and how they can be best utilized in propelling eCommerce forward in the region. One of the key points to emerge was how we must break down the structural silos in agencies and realign each team’s KPIs, focusing less on specific numbers and more on how to deliver the best seamless experience for consumers.

Brand safety and fraud also proved popular topics for debate among the audience of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders. OMD’s Digital Planning Director, Darella Paniora, contributed to the panel, outlining the measures that need to be taken when trying to combat fraud and how technology plays an essential role in brand safety, if we use it correctly.

Rounding off OMD’s panel appearances, Bassam Rizk, director of measurement and platform solutions, considered how to bring offline data into the online world, noting the rise of data ownership inline with the new GDPR regulations.

Here are some other hot topics overheard at the event…

A trade off: cost vs viewability?

If there was one, or make that, three hot topics of discussion last year, then ad fraud, brand safety and viewability stole the show. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that these issues still garner some attention, despite the moves that have been made to tackle them. Ultimately, to ensure things like brand safety, we need to start with pre-bidding technology to prequalify inventory our advertiser wants to bid for. Monitoring ad sellers as well moves higher up the priority list for the likes of Google, which goes some way to assuring clients and brands in today’s tech-led world. When it comes to viewability, it’s harder to reach a satisfying conclusion, as there needs to be a discussion with clients on what metrics to use per campaign, and perhaps be more flexible on the auditing metrics that are put in place. For example, costs may increase to achieve a higher level of viewability, and that needs to be factored in when planning each and every campaign.

GDPR is here, ready or not…

The notion of data privacy has gone from an insular discussion among those working in the field, to a more mainstream audience. This, in large, is thanks to the imminent GDPR implementation. As such, this is something brands and agencies alike have been preparing for, noting how data tracking has been a problem in certain cases and been used in a way that it shouldn’t have been, which is where GDPR comes in. Despite the European jurisdiction, this was a hot buzzword at ArabNet and rightly so. We as media agencies have to ensure we’re GDPR compliant, as we could be collecting data about someone in the EU- nothing should be left to chance. From a consumer perspective, this will also require some adjustment from them, specifically the shift in control. They could end up regulating a market place where they control their data, from who they share it with and what its value could be… all this could come off the back of GDPR, so it’s a very interesting time for the data world right now.

eCommerce is king

Amazon acquiring Souq, the launch of Noon and further mergers in the market put eCommerce in the region on the map in 2017. This year, the trend has accelerated full throttle, as the logistics infrastructure has begun to improve dramatically (the ‘last mile’ is almost a thing of the past) and brands are making heavy investments in data and tech. This makes sense given the customer expectation today is one of personalization and seamless service. Clearly, as the supply chain becomes more digitally focused in MENA, it is giving birth to a lot of pure-play eCommerce companies, and this will lead the next phase of transition in the region. As long as this can connect with offline and create a truly omnichannel experience, then this could be huge for MENA consumers.


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The OMD team works on delivering insights that unlock demand potential, ideas that ignite consumer desire and results that accelerate business growth for our clients.

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