Advertising to the UAE's modern attention span
By Manoj Nair
Talk about digital clutter — you are free of sundry ads only such time that it takes to boot up your computer or switch on the smartphone or tablet.
Irrespective of screen sizes, brand marketers will have come up with some way to get their word out and there is no escaping them.
But is the user’s attention span in sync with the pace with which these messages are being delivered?
“We’ve gone from a world where a handful of publishers control the flow of most information, to one where anyone with an internet connection can have a voice,” said Fredrik Bernsel, sales director for EMEA and Latin American territory at LinkedIn, the social networking site.
“While this has created new opportunities, it also makes it more difficult to hear and be heard. To add to this, attention spans in a multi-screen world have reduced, resulting in audiences switching away from you faster.”
Clearly, it will take a lot to get the digital consumer interested. Rather than be all things to all consumers, portal operators and advertisers keen to use them are better off reaching out to a well-defined universe.
“There is no silver bullet; the main approach, however, should strive to be constructive to the viewer and not disruptive,” said Karim Khalifa, CEO of Digital Republic and regional co-chair of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).
“In other words, advertising needs to be in keeping with the primary activity that the user is already online for. That will ensure an experience that is not intrusive or disruptive, and will more than likely catch the eye of the user. Incentives don’t harm either,” Khalifa said.
In terms of creating a universe of users, LinkedIn has not done badly. The world’s largest web-based professional network, it has more than 225 million members, of which 5 million are from the Mena territory. In the UAE, the user base has gone past one million.
And it is not just professionals who are connecting on LinkedIn — students are now among its fastest growing demographics and now number 30 million and counting. All of which is convincing more advertisers to sign up.
“We don’t let brands simply advertise, but enable them to build relationships with professionals,” said Bernsel. “Our marketing tools help advertisers target messages with accuracy, publish contextual content and build conversations on relevant topics. Sponsored content drives thought leadership and helps you be seen in the right audiences using groups, polls and company pages.
“While reinforcement of messages continues to be important, we believe true engagement can happen only when relevant messages reach the right audience and a relationship can be established over time.
“Today, the brand ‘voice’ takes a front seat while the hard sell takes a step back; artfully communicating to your audience is critical in a feed-based advertising landscape that is here to stay. In other words, brands need to add value and not just sell, ask consumers what they want to hear, and be human.”
And as Khalifa says it: “Respect the consumer with targeted, contextual and incentivised campaigns — Context is now king.”
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