How did the digital ecosystem change last year?
We saw both systemic and incremental changes. For example, there was much greater demand for effective measurement and maturity in e-commerce-related solutions. There’s also been increasing growth and sophistication and advances in the creator economy driven by web 3.0, as well as emergent premium streamers. We also started to see unlocking of the potential of AI and more attempts from the region to explore brand presence in the metaverse.
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Which of these trends will spill into 2023 and what changes do you expect?
Omnichannel is still killing it. It will continue to grow, particularly as touchpoints continue to digitise. Keep an eye on digital out-of-home (DOOH) and connected TV; both are hot, smart and primed for take-off. Buying programmatic inventory on these platforms via digital is a promising frontier and one that is rapidly gaining momentum.Entertainment channels will continue to proliferate, as will content – locally produced Saudi content will be an exceptional driver, catalysing opportunities and expansion for the entire industry.
I believe we will continue to see different manifestations of the metaverse and NFTs and perhaps wider penetration for these, as well as more reliance on AI to drive adaptive and result-oriented content generation.
We’re also going to see a greater need for better data, especially as data privacy continues to be at the forefront of consumer concerns and consideration.
Closer to home, I’m personally excited about the Group M initiative for media decarbonisation and adtech sustainability in EMEA, through carbon emissions measurement, reporting and reduction.
What are some of the biggest challenges you foresee?
I think we are all concerned about the impact of a potential global recession on multinational investments, and the risk of advertising revenue pullback. We are well poised to weather the storm, having prioritised growth of our talent to build a resilient, adaptable agency team that can thrive amid volatility.
What can brands do differently to accelerate their digital strategy?
Two things: Think GenZ first. Second, realise the value of digital across the entire spectrum of the balance sheet and build from there to identify the ownership of the different stakeholders within the digital strategy.
What are the biggest opportunities brands can gear up for this year?
2023 is a year to double down on what brands have and strengthen their ecosystem. On either end of the spectrum, locally and regionally, the explosion and promise of KSA-produced content vis a vis global platforms like Disney and Netflix; and on the global end, the potential of CTV and DOOH.