Continuous consumers, by MBC Media Solutions’ Ahmed Al Sahhaf

MBC Media Solutions CEO Ahmed Al Sahhaf explains how data, structure and integration can allow brands to get closer to their audiences across MBC GROUP’s platforms.

By Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO, MBC Media Solutions

What measurements do advertisers ask for?

Advertisers are asking for accurate and timely measurements that ensure transparency and quantify returns to ensure each ad dollar invested is even more accountable. To achieve this, MMS has made available to the industry a standardised measurement framework and reporting system, along with other new solutions that will be rolled out in the near future.

MMS is currently gathering data through MBC GROUP’s set of TV boxes in Saudi. It is reported daily, in minute-by-minute terms, allowing advertisers to know precisely what is working and what is not.

MMS also overlays TV data with Shahid data, which gives clients a unique and better representation of household and individual consumers in a much more realistic and uninterrupted manner.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for business growth?

We see a gap in the Saudi market with an increasing demand from clients and opportunity for growth across all sectors including government and SMEs, which have been growing rapidly in recent years.

A lot of local brands are eager to access MBC’s platforms now, given the solution-oriented approach we have developed. With our proposition that includes data accuracy, scale and best-in-class culturally relevant content, we believe MBC GROUP is in a unique position to deliver on our clients’ performance goals. Lastly, content integration is another growth opportunity to diversify clients’ investments within MBC and push through in-content revenue

Where are the biggest threats to business growth?

The threats we face are very similar to the ones the advertising market as a whole is currently navigating: uncontrollable external factors (the economy, Covid-19, etc.), reduction in advertisers’ ad dollars and fragmentation of consumer attention due to access to more content than ever before.

Our response is to continue providing a platform that draws engaged viewers who advertisers can target with premium Arabic content.

We have a strong customer value proposition, defining what we aim to offer in the market across the three pillars of content excellence, data-driven thinking and partnership-led solutions, and we are diversifying that offering to our clients across all MBC GROUP platforms.

Internally we do this by focusing on diverse talent from sales to data scientists, underpinned by processes and automation.

How are your teams structured to service brands?

MMS has structured its talent to cater to both agencies and clients in a symbiotic manner, with teams servicing agencies and clients divided by sectors. These teams work together to ensure there is one voice, one solution and one approach towards the brands and businesses we cater to.

Instead of the usual industry sectors, MMS has categorised the client teams based on how consumers make buying decisions adapting to the continuous consumer forces, resulting in three distinct categories: high involvement, fast-moving consumer decisions, and government and SMEs.

The latter is based out of Riyadh in order to cater to the new Saudi government’s ambitions, which will further amplify how we can go to market

What sort of mix do you see between traditional advertising and integrated advertising from brands?

Currently, the mix is heavily skewed towards traditional ‘around-content’ advertising due mainly to the widespread familiarity of this approach and the consistent performance achieved in the past. While we believe this will not change much, we do also believe that ‘in-content’ (integrated advertising) investments are drastically increasing for several reasons. First is the enhanced proximity between advertiser and station around the content produced. Given MMS’s in-house presence, we are one and the same with the stations. Second is the availability of data now down to the minute-level within programmes to showcase the utility of integrations in a much more scientific manner. Third is the cross-platform reach in-content integrations provided from a pure scale perspective (across TV, Shahid and social media platforms). And last but not least is the growth of original production from the MBC Group, which allows us to weave organically relevant brands into a programme’s storyline.

How busy is Ramadan compared with the rest of the year?

Ramadan is and has always been one of our busiest seasons. In fact, MBC records a notable 23 per cent increase in household viewership compared with other months, reaching more than 14.6 million individuals in KSA, 4.7 million in the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar and 11.4 million in Iraq. The changes in 2021 are felt more so on the content and distribution sides, driven by the granular data available. This is allowing us to provide the premier viewing experience across all the MBC GROUP platforms our loyal consumers have become accustomed to. We are also pushing for more integration and there is more appetite from clients to be within our content.

What advice would you give to brands wanting to maximise their effectiveness and efficiency with MBC Group?

First, continue leveraging the premium Arabic content only MBC Group can provide. Second, think of your ultimate goal, what success looks like, and allow us and your agency partners to seek out and recommend how our solutions can help drive your brand and business forward.