Digital media is everywhere but when it comes to advertising on it the Middle East still sees a deficit between expectation and delivery.
In other words, the mismatch, according to Susan Probert, director of client services at Digital Republic, is between the share of digital advertising of the total spend and consumer consumption of digital.
“Once brands and media owners catch up, the future will actually be how traditional media is a value-add for digital communications,” Probert said. “This is driven by the consumer who is engaging across multiple platforms and watching TV while surfing the net, or shopping in malls while engaging with brands on a mobile, which have the ability for direct response, direct payment, and GPS location services.
“The value-add that will be derived from digital and traditional will be from the wealth of customer data — how it is understood and used to create a more personal customer experience. At the moment, the data is not being managed, kept clean or used effectively. At the moment brands are just mass marketing hoping for the occasional hit to justify some form of investment.
“Likewise, in social media, if brands can stay relevant then they do not need to follow people but can expect people to follow them. However they need to stay fresh with consistently evolving content and ideas that can be integrated into social media such as augmented reality.”
According to Amer Al Hajj, exchange director at VivaKi MENA, digital ad spend is estimated to put a 20 per cent growth this year, which represents some sort of stability setting in on the pace compared with 2011’s growth of 35 per cent and 25 per cent last year.
“Yet, the digital budget does not exceed 4 per cent overall,” said Al Hajj. “While some clients have allocated 40 per cent of their budget on digital, as a total industry it is still at single digit.”
But digital’s time will come, not least due to the fact that advertisers can have a better reading of what they are getting for their spending. Plus, cost on digital still represents an easier entry point.
“Media owners can only increase tariffs if they have succeeded in increasing their circulation, geographical reach or CPM,” said Probert. “And because digital can prove all these they face little resistance if they do increase rates because advertisers are crying out for accountable and effective media solutions. Also, since display is the fastest growing medium within Internet advertising, a rate increase can accommodate online video and social media advertising, each of which is growing at about 30 per cent per year.
“For a creative digital agency the ideas must always consider the media plan and remain effective and measurable to ensure continued investment.”