Tips from an Ever-evolving Digital Landscape

STEP conference has launched its first summit in Riyadh which marks their first edition in the Kingdom. Our very own Rabih ElTair made an appearance on the digital stage alongside other panelists to discuss digital marketing in the region and in specific the effects of social changes and market advancements on digital advertising. Following his panel discussion, we sat with Rabih and went through the key discussion points that were covered.

A fan is not a customer, identify the right KPIs to measure success:

‘I attended a panel by Ev Williams the previous CEO of Twitter at last year’s Web summit, and when asked about what he regrets from his time at Twitter, he said: “Showing the following count was detrimental for Twitter as it shifted the focus towards popularity.” There is no correlation between your fan base and the value to business, fan acquisition is not customer acquisition. I’m not saying anything new here, agencies know this, and marketers know this, however the briefs keep on coming to grow fan bases across platforms. My advice is to invest your budget on the right metrics, if it’s a performance campaign then consider website conversions, store visits, app installs and if it’s an awareness campaign then look at cost per reach, engagement rates and time spent on your website.

The Saudi market is quite advanced than some global markets when it comes to video adoption. From a marketing and planning perspective brands need to capitalize on this opportunity:

We are all currently operating in an exciting time and place. Some of the numbers coming out from Saudi are staggering and it gives me great pride when I’m sitting on a global presentation and they showcase a chart with KSA coming on top. The top country in video consumption, the highest growth globally for Twitter and Snapchat, one of the highest internet and mobile penetration. I believe this is a result of an extremely youthful population

  • 45% under 25: 15 million. Great infrastructure for connectivity: 90% internet penetration, 130% mobile subscription and a hunger for content
  • Top searched YT keywords: series
  • Netflix: 6.6 million monthly traffic.

From a planning perspective, this means that today, while online video gives an advertiser the reach, the next challenge is how do you optimize your budget to maximize your reach through Programmatic video buying and how do you build creative natively for digital – not adapted from a TVC. You do this by working closely with the brand and the creative agency to digitize their approach and with key digital partners to influencer and sometimes edit video creatives.

The digital advertising and audio markets in KSA have been affected by the social and economic changes:

 Working within the digital space in KSA right now is very exciting. Vision 2030, the national transformation plan and move towards privatization will without a doubt create immense opportunities for brands, digital players, production houses, content creators and start-ups. One thing that we always observe in KSA is the lack of local and Arabic content and its accessibility. I predict with this change, there will be more incentive to do that especially in the audio space. Example: The 4th most searched query on YT in 2018 was Sheila (folk song) and as far I know this type of songs is either not available or very limited on Spotify and Anghami.

Keep the environment and objective in mind when creating a native experience:

A Native ad is defined as the paid ad that matches the look, feel and function of the media format in the way they appear. It is great to drive consideration and conversion. But as it is defined a native ad is all about the creative it carries. What we’ve seen in the past is that the creative is adopted to a native ad as if it’s a size adaptation and it is not fully created with the user, environment it appears in and objective in mind. One thing we always recommend is to create an ad weather native, display or text with these factors in mind.

The dilemma with rising platforms, a trend or a fad:

It is very important to distinguish a trend from a fad. We have all seen an app, a game or a challenge that rises fast and falls even faster, a very small percentage of them manage to turn into a trend. The advantages of jumping on a trend first are huge. You are the first, you are being innovative, you are moving into an uncluttered environment and in many cases you have the opportunity to co create with the media. Having said that, what you can do on this front is to always: identify, evaluate and monitor

Multi-sensory touch-points work better together:

People today are rarely doing one thing at a time: 90% of the time they’re second screening, driving and listening to an Audio book, playing a video game while listening to a Playlist on YouTube in the background. So why should our planning be mono-sensory? I believe we are still in early stages of an immersive multi-sensory experience, and it will take both technology like AR VR and neuro science to take us forward to the future. Remember the scene from Minority Report in 2002 where Tom cruise was walking into a shopping mall – this was a great example of a holistic personalized experience by the advertiser.

With the landscape in the Kingdom always evolving, so are the needs of the market and digital landscape. Brands need to keep their objectives and the environment in mind while setting their KPIs and choosing which trends and formats to adopt.


About Author

Rabih El Tair

Rabih has gained extensive media experience in the region, having started as an offline planner in Qatar before relocating to Dubai to work in digital planning. He is passionate about digital innovation and constantly stays up to date with the latest global trends.

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