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Digital Advertising Market in the United Arab Emirates 2018

Recent times have seen a rise in the use of the internet like never before. As a matter of fact, the most effective way at the moment to promote any business at the moment is through digital advertising. The United Arab Emirates, as well as her partners in the GCC group, have not been left behind. Several stats place the Middle East and Africa among the fastest growing regions when it comes to digital marketing.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at how marketing Dubai has revolutionized over the years. We’ll have an overview of trends in the past decade and where she stands as at now. We’ll also assess future possibilities in terms of changes and growth rate in digital advertising UAE. In the end, you should have a clear picture of the market in Dubai and decide for yourself which advertising route to follow as we assess the effects of all these means.

A Digital Panorama of Advertising in UAE

In a 2016 survey of 30 prominent economies in digital progress, UAE was placed first in internet penetration at a rate of 96%. The UK and Canada followed closely with an internet penetration rate of 92% & 91% respectively. This positive development has encouraged many a business in the United Arab Emirates leading to a deeper focus on SEO optimization by most firms in Dubai.

Out of the 9.2 million population at the time the survey was taken, 8.81 were active internet users with the number of mobile connections doubling the population to reach 17.19 million. The reports are eye-openers to the endless possibilities this Arab nation could present marketers. The reports go-ahead to show how the internet’s use has surpassed the traditional television sets.

A Look at the Global Markets

Before focusing on the Middle East, it’s crucial to have an overall look at the global market performance over the years. In 2016, revenues from the Global Advertising were at a strong $532 billion with the numbers expected to rise to $590 billion in the year that followed. This push is primarily seen coming from the Middle East and Africa closely followed by the Asia Pacific where Indonesia and India steal the show.

The IHS Technology reports disputed claims of rapid growth in the developed nations particularly the Western Countries. This is after the recently held elections in the United States and the Olympics that took the scene.

In addition to that, the report was seen backing up the notion that online will continue carrying the day as the fastest growing medium at a rate of 14%. Google and Facebook are however expected to experience a slowdown since the two haven’t been attracting TV budgets to their online video offering as quickly as initially hoped for.

The largest market in Digital Advertising, the United States, recorded revenue of US $5,462 million in 2018. The largest segment in that particular niche is Search Advertising that recorded a market volume of US $2,524 million that same year. The retail industry appears to be the largest contributor in the Digital Advertising market accounting for 13.5% of the revenues.

In a global comparison of the top countries, a view of total revenues as concerning the market volume, US took a crucial lead at US $100,688m. China came next at US $48,959m, and the United Kingdom made US $12,744m in revenues. Japan and Germany followed next at US $11,700m and US $10,647m respectively.

In the global market still, the retail industry in 2018 occupied 19.3% of the total pie with automotive following closely at 13%. Financial services have also picked up over the years summing up to 12.9% and the entertainment and media made up 10.2%.

When questioned about the need to go online and optimize search engines, companies responded with 56% of the surveyed companies say they are mainly driven by customer demands. These received a quantifiable amount of pressure from their clientele hence optimizing their IT infrastructure. 70% received the same pressure but from their business competitors who had pried the industry and were making it. 34% were afraid that competitors would take advantage of their lack to complete the digital transformation.

Whether the pressure comes from inside or external factors, it is no doubt that this is the way of the future. You are only bound to lose if the digital train leaves you behind.

Analyzing the Digital Forms Used

Social media has primarily taken over the market and being used by most marketers due to their ease and popularity. The social media mania is as popular as smartphones are – whoever owns one will most definitely be found owning one or several social media handles.

Advertising Dubai

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, had surpassed a record number of users of over 1 billion during the third quarter of 2012. This made it the first ever social media platform to ever reach such numbers. Don’t be surprised to hear the numbers have reached 2.23 billion users during the second quarter of 2018! In just 4 years, the growth has surpassed almost 1 and a half billion. Marvelous and tremendous to say the least!

Social media marketing involves a number of platforms. The most popular ones today are Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, among other video marketing forms. Twitter and Yahoo also have their die-hard fans. The popularity of these forms has increased over the years as both the millennial and generation Z generation finding themselves entangled in this unending web. Marketers have therefore seen this opportunity and maximized ads on these platforms. Rarely will you leave your social media platform without coming by several ads – even Google makes millions from this.

Email marketing is another form mostly used by B2B and reaching a record number of B2C. Whatever site you come by right now, you will conveniently be given the choice to subscribe to their services for a chance to receive useful email updates or even download useful eBooks. When it comes to email marketing, you can always be sure to have the clicks convert to sales if you just go about it in the right manner.

In the global arena, Google and Facebook are seen as the paramount players in the marketing industry. The two were forecasted to carry over 50% of all advertising revenues as of 2017. Baidu has monopolized the Chinese market for the longest time with positive results in the future. Whether it is the everyday ads or PPC that you just can’t ignore, social media has surely revolutionized marketing for you and the trend is only set to continue.

Back to the Middle East

Ads Dubai

Marketers and analysts had different standpoints in forecasting the year 2017 for Digital Marketing in UAE. Statista had forecasted a growth rate of 5% from 2016 marking an aggregate of 4.1% in total global ad spends. In actual numbers, this was estimated to amount to 24.25 billion US dollars for the Middle East and African countries.

Nonetheless, Zenith had a different point of view. According to their statistics, the Middle East and North Africa would suffer a decline in ad spend totaling to -9% come 2017. This, according to the company, would be due to the drastic fall in oil prices.

MENA Digital Markets

United Arab Emirates: Shouldering an eminent lead in the GCC during the 1st quarter of 2017, by accounting for 46% of aggregate advertising spend in the region. This amounted to AED 1.5billion according to TBWA worldwide.

Turkey: Despite the turmoil in the political realm, ad spend is forecasted to grow at a rate of 13.7% reaching TRY 1,824.4 million in 2017. In 2015, this number was at 1,673.2 million with the major growth seen in the mobile sector.

Iran: Excluding social media, ad expenditure was estimated at $53million according to Adro. Google and Facebook have however experience constraints due to the financial sanctions imposed. Telegram is taking a lead in social media apps with almost $24million in revenues.

Unfortunately, Facebook and Google don’t give marketers a marketing opportunity in Syria and Sudan. These markets could present exponential growing chances in such sites in the future.

Top-Spenders in UAE

The 2015 report detailed the top ad spenders during the previous year according to Dubai Lynx MENA Showcase book. Telecommunications moguls Etisalat led at 48million followed by Du at 36.6million. McDonald’s had dropped to just above the 19million mark with Samsung, Carrefour, Toyota and Arabtec Holding – the largest in real estate in the region also topped the list. In that same year, McDonalds and Wal-Mart (equivalent to Carrefour) topped the US markets.

Social Media Latest Reports in the Region

The affordability of smartphones and widespread awareness and use of Wi-Fi contributes to the outburst in social media in these Arab states. Streaming is faster than ever before due to the massive developments in the service providers and telecoms. As an actuality, more adults are on social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook than on professional sites – LinkedIn. I mean, who doesn’t fancy some social in their life?

A GMI- 2018 report, (a website which analyzes how the internet is utilized worldwide), the following social media habits in UAE were reported:

  • 92% of the total population is to be found in the different social media platforms. Note that the population at the time stood at 8.7million individuals.
  • Social media experienced an overall growth of 2% with the users increasing by over 17,600 people.
  • When it comes to mobile phones social media users, the increase was at 6% signaled by over 500,000 residents.
  • In a demographic analysis in terms of age, those falling between 18-21 years are the seen to be the major contributors in social media usage. The ones aged 26-54 years were also on different social media platforms but with the prime need to seek greener pastures in their working fields, rather than just have fun. In fact, most LinkedIn users were aged between 22-34 years. This similarity can also be seen in their African counterparts including other developing nations.
  • As said above, there’s a notable difference in the manner of internet usage according to different age groups. The younger generation aged 18 to 25 was mostly posting social media updates, as is to be expected. They were seen spending most time updating pictures and viewing other’s profiles in the common social media handles. This is a strong contrast to those aged 45 to 65 who mostly followed up on current affairs and news making headlines when on social media.

But how exactly does the population receive and perceive the different social networks? Taking a look at the popularity of the different platforms in Digital Marketing UAE, we found out that:

  • A record 82% were found on Facebook. This percentage is similar to 7.75 million users!
  • YouTube came on second at 79% or 7.46 million users.
  • There’s an observable difference to the 5.01 million users on Instagram represented by 53%.
  • Twitter wasn’t to be left behind as it marked a record 3.87 million subscribers marked by 41%.
  • This is where the job seekers come in and take over LinkedIn at 40% or 3.78 million persons.
  • Google+ followed that job market at 3.59 million users or 38%.
  • Pinterest received the least popularity among users at 22% or 2.08 million users.

When it comes to messaging and texting, sending videos and images from person to person or group, usage in the UAE could be seen as follows:

  • WhatsApp tops the list at 7.34 million members owning the app. This is represented by 83% of the total internet usage.
  • Facebook Messenger came next at 59% or 5.58 million have signed up for an account
  • Skype’s popularity has taken root due to the efficiently convenient Wi-Fi signals and this can be seen by 58% or 5.48 million users.
  • The Snapchat hype came fourth in the list at 2.84 members or 30%.
  • Lastly, we have Wechat that’s slowly growing with 1.89 million users – a representation of 20%.

A Digital versus Traditional Outlook

The divide continues to widen as time passes, and people rely more on the digital forms. A Global Web Index tracked how people of different ages across 34 markets spent time online and assessed the various media used. In a comparison between digital and traditional forms such as radio, TV and print, the following data was compiled.

In 7 different markets, online TV had gained popularity with an average of more than 1 hour per day is spent here. As expected, Middle East nations are at the forefront. Only in 5 of the 34 markets was it found that more people spent more time in traditional forms compared to social media.

Looking at the drop in popularity of traditional forms across 31 markets from 2012; TV dropped in 29 of them, physical print saw a downfall in 21 whereas broadcast radio dipped in 24 countries.

At the same time, online TV saw a rise in 28 of these countries while online press amassed popularity in 26 regions. Having said that, it’s still important to give recognition to the dominance of linear TV which still represents the one biggest daily media activities in all the 34 markets. It might be a long while coming before we see the eradication of the broadcast television sets.

Agency Advertising in UAE

The Middle East region has more than 500 digital agencies with the biggest buyers in advertising being the Governments, consumer brands, telecommunication operators and the real estate sector respectively. When it comes to digital agencies and employees, the UAE and Egypt become the major economic bases. UAE represents 30% of employees and advertising companies. The international media and digital firms primarily form the top agencies in the UAE market.

Media Buying

Though not very popular in the Middle East, the media buying unit (MBU) is made up of the largest players and the largest buyers. It’s a large-scale business consisting of bulk advertising, space acquisition and major trading. In the region, MBUs hold premium spots across the main platforms and are owned by international firms – 60% of digital ad spend, 50% of newspaper and 70% TV.

Impact of Social Media & Digital Advertising UAE on Businesses

Each year, it is estimated that the growth of internet users is 13% on an annual basis. With this boom, it only wise to start investing in the different digital marketing forms in Dubai. The shift from traditional to digital is only bound to escalate over time and probably in less than the next two decades, printed press and radios will have disappeared from reality – a thing of the past.

Adopting simple social media marketing forms will give your business a wider access to the global community. With almost 99% of the Dubai population going online, it will be hard for your business not to successfully pry the markets, unless you fail to do it right.

digital advertising Dubai

Digital advertising is most lucrative both on the part of the clients and the business due to the cost-effectiveness and affordability. You cannot argue with facts – online marketing is the most reasonably priced form of marketing. Since most individuals are moving to different Wi-Fi networks, it even becomes way convenient and cheaper for the clients to access your services.

Digital Marketing in Dubai will also assist you to focus on your targeted clientele. Whether you are using demographics to reach out to a specific customer or geography, you are more likely to convert your marketing to sales once you reach your expected consumer. This eliminates the need to spend dear amounts reaching to a generalized market with the traditional forms. Nonetheless, the market online is much bigger since ‘everyone’ has a smartphone or a means to access the internet.

Online presents you a chance to solve more problems than ever before. Day-in-day-out, millions accessing the internet are looking for answers to problems. This gives you a chance to offer your services as well as diversify your business. Another benefit stems from the fact that the internet gives your clients a chance to take immediate action. They can make direct purchases, subscribe for your services or even promote your services and drive much-needed traffic to your site.

Unlike traditional marketing forms, the digital advertising atmosphere gives you a chance to partner with shipping companies for simplified services. This takes the transport burden of you and allows you to focus on marketing and sales. It also allures the client who doesn’t have to travel to local or far-away stores in search of the product you have to offer.

Cons in the Business

There isn’t really much to say about the disadvantages of going online. However, a number of people are seen complaining about the irrelevance of certain ads. It can be overbearing on the part of the customer to come by multiple ads every passing minute. Businesses need to understand how to structure their content to convert to sales. Otherwise, you are only likely to pull the masses from your site.

Growing revenues online requires technical planning and this is where most businesses fail. Nonetheless, once the art is mastered, businesses might develop a negative reliance and revenue dependence which might be hard to quit.

A Conclusive Summary: Watch Out For This!

Certain marketing trends are expected to boost your marketing in Dubai and worldwide too. For starters, a term has been developed for the trendiest marketing form in 2018 – ‘mobilfication’. Using the mobile device to engage your prospects will call for a mobile website or application supported on the different devices. Offer your clientele variety in terms of access – let them conveniently reach you on their tabs, their mobile as well as their desktops.

Chatbots have also revolutionized thousands of websites. Some are so enhanced that you won’t know whether you are speaking to a person or a bot. You can use the bots to engage your customers, answer general questions, issue customer services as well as close business deals.

You also need to refocus your energies and investments on SEO and reviews. Most baby boomers will have to check out reviews of a product or service before making a purchase. Have a system for asking for reviews and feedback from your clients which shouldn’t involve you incentivizing people as this is illegal.

Facebook watch parties and live videos are becoming predominant by the day. You need to consider offering more videos which save your clients reading time. What’s more, you need to consider creating a long-lasting brand other than putting all your energies on making sales and innumerable calls to action. People want a business they can form a relationship with as compared to the ones which will only focus on draining their pockets

Digital Advertising in UAE should be simple for you. Both the global markets and marketing Dubai present a positive outlook on the future of digital advertising. Maximizing the different social media at the same time will give you a chance to reach out to a larger audience, both on the local and international front. Failing to adopt the online marketing means will only push you on the downside in the short, medium and long run. Unless you have no plans for growth, we should be meeting you in the online space as soon as yesterday!

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