The Middle East’s marketing and communications industry has come together this week in Abu Dhabi to discuss the changes in traditional media methods and the unstoppable increase in new media.
SIM 2009, the Signage, Imaging and Media exhibition and conference, was officially opened by His Excellency Mohammed Omar Abdulla, Undersecretary for the Department of Economic Development and Board Member of the Abu Dhabi Media Company, earlier this week and is taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Tuesday 20 October.
A number of forums are taking place alongside SIM, including the two-day Social Media event which discussed new developments in the area, offering opportunities for marketing and communications professionals to develop a successful and integrated public relations strategy using social media channels.
Leading figures in the marketing and communications industry speaking at the forum included Husni Khuffash, Country Business Development Manager of Google UAE, and Andrew Bleeker, the new media director for the largest social media campaign in history: Obama for America, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
As new media usage increases and traditional advertising faces challenges in the Middle East, SIM 2009 presents solutions for current advertisers and offers a snapshot of the future regional market at a time when business in the region are looking for cost-effective ways to communicate their products and services to their customers and stakeholders.
The usage of new media is growing rapidly in the Middle East, a region with more than 85.5 million internet users according to Euromonitor International figures. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and its Arabic language counterpart Watwet dominate internet usage, accounting for 48 per cent of website hits in the region.
“Non-traditional media is seeing near exponential growth in the region, and consumers quickly rank social networks as a preferred method of communication,” said Ed Malkoun, Group Exhibition Director at IIR Middle East, the organisers of SIM.
As more consumers in the Middle East sign up for social networks and journalists embrace Twitter and Facebook as professional tools, new media becomes increasingly important for the marketing and communications of companies in the region, and they cannot afford to be left behind.
“Companies have been forced to address how their brand is portrayed in non-traditional media, and they’ve found that participation is crucial,” Malkoun commented. “New media is here to stay, and industry professionals must learn how to communicate key messages in non-traditional forms, but more importantly how to shape direct responses to consumer feedback on social media networks.”
“The 2009 edition of SIM is an effective and inclusive platform for marketing and communications professionals to address benefits, challenges and solutions for the new media revolution, and how to remain ahead of the curve with a complete PR strategy.”
Tuesday 20 October will see the conclusion to the UAE Images 2009 photography competition, organised in association with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, as well as the one day iPhone Programming Workshop and the Outdoor Advertising Forum.
After a highly successful inaugural year in 2008, SIM returns to Abu Dhabi with a renewed focus on delivering non-traditional media solutions that are cost effective and have expanded reach. The exhibition also caters to signage and imaging, featuring the latest products and technology in digital printing and cutting edge advances in the photographic and imaging industry.
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