FeaturedOpinionPartner content

Do you close your ears during Ramadan? By DMS’s Carl Chalhoub

While the Holy Month may be a time listening habits change, that doesn’t mean audio is any less effective. You just have to do it right, writes DMS’s Carl Chalhoub.

By Carl Chalhoub, senior sales manager, DMS-Anghami UAE.

The Holy Month is a unique period of the year. From a societal standpoint, it is a period of spirituality, tradition and faith. Lifestyle behaviours shift as people value more time with their relatives and reflect on matters of the heart and mind. From a media standpoint, this is reflected by constant shifts in moments and mindsets. In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, consumers’ interests are centred around gathering, preparation and spiritual immersion. During the Holy Month, their routines continue to revolve around spiritual aspects yet are coupled with entertainment and personal care. Lastly, towards Eid, consumers’ attention shifts towards celebration and vacation. Brands that tap into these moments are those who will be able to engage with their audiences, defining the level of connection through the right medium, channel and format.

Following two years of limited physical interaction, and with multiple players setting foot in the region, the penetration of audio streaming platforms today is at an all-time high, particularly in the GCC, where penetration has reached 59 per cent in KSA and 70 per cent in the UAE, according to Ipsos. Gen Z and millennials have adopted audio streaming to increase their cultural awareness and form new connections. WARC and Choueiri Group’s research on Leveraging Digital Audio for Marketers in MENA in 2022 supports this, with findings showing that 43 per cent of Gen Z and 62 per cent of millennials searched for more diverse music content and podcast creators. Audio is no longer an afterthought and, through the unique engagement that music and podcasts provide, it is set to complement Ramadan’s media traditions.

Music is an integral part of daily life… even during 

The same question pops up every year: is Ramadan a music moment? Digging into the data of Anghami, the region’s leading music streaming platform, we found that the number of monthly active users remains the same, with no change in the average time spent per day (58 min is the yearly average). Smart and personalised audio streaming technologies have made music more accessible and personalised than ever. Users can multitask and listen anytime, anywhere, choosing music that fits their Ramadan mindset from a wide selection of titles and genres.

For example, in the GCC, 65 per cent of females spend the day cooking, listening to cooking music content from 1 pm until 7 pm (450,000+ streams). Others work out even when fasting and consume fitness content from 5 pm to 7 pm and from 11 pm to 1 am (1.8 million + streams). And some use music to nurture their spirituality. When Anghami launched a Ramadan mode to offer a spiritual experience, it was enabled by more than 900,000 users. Other moments are also clearly identified by music during that month, including personal care routines, shopping and housework.

Those music moments have given brands a relevant space to connect with their audiences in real-time, with audio ads proving to be a captivating format for attention and to trigger conversions. Last year, Anghami’s audio ads benchmarked an uplift of 64 per cent in ad recall with a click-through rate of 0.8 per cent. Footfall attribution was also measured for an automotive brand, where audio ads lifted by 14.5 per cent the number of visits to the showroom. Audio has the power to transport users to different times and places, makes cooking more educational, workouts more fun and good deeds more inspirational.

Music is also an enabler of conversations. In Ramadan 2020, Pepsi wanted to bring Saudis together during the onset of the pandemic. By collaborating with local independent artists on an Anghami original, they offered the audience a mood-boosting piece that made them discover new talented artists who speak their own language. The song topped the charts in KSA, saw 96,000+ interactions from the users and increased brand love by 45 per cent. The artists and song also became overarching components of Pepsi’s social media activations on Instagram.

Localised podcasts are in demand and positive advertising perceptions

During Campaign ME’s recent Breakfast Briefing on Ramadan, Ipsos declared that podcast consumption will increase by 6 per cent during Ramadan. Podcasts are the new kids on the block of content and, according to research conducted by Rising Giants Network in KSA in 2021, 30 per cent of respondents listen to podcasts on a daily basis and 22 per cent listen to podcasts three times per week. Research by Amaeya Media on the state of podcasts in MENA also found that 65 per cent of respondents think podcasts are equally if not more credible than the traditional mediums of radio, TV and newspaper.

As for advertisers, podcasts are a unique way for them to associate themselves with topics that matter while connecting with highly engaged audiences for a long duration. Tapestry, an independent research company, found that podcast advertising offers the highest levels of attention among media channels, with 65 per cent of listeners paying attention to podcast ads compared with TV ads (39 per cent) and radio ads (38 per cent).

Arabs are developing an affinity towards local shows, and Arabic is their preferred language for podcast consumption. They want to consume content that resonates with them and their culture, and this holds particularly true during Ramadan when localisation is more important than ever. Today, we have more than 1000 localised shows. It is yet to be propelled. As creators and platforms gear up to answer to the increasing demand, podcasting brings massive opportunities to advertisers who are quick to jump on board. With several topics still untapped locally, the space is theirs to be leveraged this Ramadan, from both content creation and association standpoints.

In summary, with the ease of access to audio streaming, music and podcast are integral parts of Ramadan. Audio platforms’ breadth of data allows them to identify moods, moments, and mindsets that advertisers can leverage to connect deeply with their audiences during this key moment of the year. The truth is you can never switch off your ears, even during Ramadan.