Spotlight on social media at SIM

Published October 14th, 2009 - 01:36 GMT

As new media usage increases and traditional advertising faces challenges in the Middle East, Signage, Imaging and Media Exhibition and Conference (SIM) presents solutions for current advertisers and offers a snapshot of the future regional market. 


SIM is the region’s most comprehensive event bringing together key sectors and players from the region’s marketing and communications industry.  Taking place from 18 to 20 October at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the event comes at a critical time for businesses in the region looking for cost-effective ways to advertise. 


Traditional media is facing challenging times during the global economic crisis.  Businesses are carefully evaluating their advertising strategies and being more discerning with their advertising spend.  In response, marketing professionals are seeking alternative means to communicate with consumers, while publishers and journalists must appropriate the latest developments in media to remain attractive to advertisers.  


Meanwhile, new media usage is growing rapidly in the Middle East, a region with more than 85.5 million internet users according to Euromonitor International figures.  Social networks like 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.


Recent research from Spot On Public Relations reveals the potential for advertising and importance of marketing with social media; 70 per cent of Twitter users in the region formed a more positive perception of a brand due to an engagement on Twitter, and 52 per cent say they developed a negative perception of a brand.


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 will be 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.”


SIM’s dedicated two-day forum for Social Media will discuss new developments and present a wide range of examples utilising social media to its potential, and offer 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 include Husni Khuffash, Country Business Development Manager of Google UAE; Joel Berger, Managing Director of Fox Interactive Media/MySpace Germany; and Andrew Bleeker, the new media director for the largest social media campaign in history: Obama for America, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.


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.


SIM’s newly launched Conference Programme offers a combination of discussions on new developments and strategy for critical issues in marketing and excellent networking opportunities for members of the industry. 


Dedicated forums include the Digital Signage Forum, Google AdWorks Workshop, Outdoor Advertising Forum, Digital Printing Forum, and iPhone Programming Workshop.

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