HOW DO YOU SEE THE MARKET CHANGING IN 2020?
The year started with a steady pick up in the number of digital and social support requests from companies in the UAE and KSA. Clearly you see more clients moving away from pure awareness and reach-driven campaigns to more outcome-focused digital marketing efforts with clear KPIs that directly affect sales. There’s a bigger push by clients towards first-party data that delivers better targeting. That’s why our custom CDP solution is helping more clients turn valuable audience data that they have into insights and then activate it to drive outcomes. When that segmented first-party data is plugged into an in-house programmatic trading desk, clients are seeing at least a 20 per cent improvement in outcomes (for example generated leads and e-commerce transactions).
WHAT WILL MOST DISRUPT THE INDUSTRY IN THE COMING YEAR?
From reading all the reviews coming out of CES, clearly AI is going to be a game changer in several industries in the next three years. AI assistants and artificial humans are going mainstream and you’ll be seeing service providers from Dubai Police to major hotels showcasing versions of assistants that will help you navigate a physical or ‘brick’ experience while capturing vital digital data around it.
WHAT WORK FROM LAST YEAR ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
We’re particularly proud of our work for a truly worthy cause: Madrasa project, a Public Diplomacy Office initiative promoting e-learning for children all around the Arab world. More than 5,000 Arabic educational videos are featured on the platform. Our work on that initiative has helped spread awareness and drive up literacy rates in the Arab world.
WHAT ONE DIGITAL HABIT SHOULD WE ALL ADOPT?
Learn to code. You can teach yourself through several free online programs. It’s one of those top future skills that’s going to come in handy when a virtual AI planner can do your job better than you.
HOW DO YOU SEE ONLINE AND OFFLINE INTERACTING IN THE MEDIA SPHERE?
Online video content will remain king in a region that prefers consuming bite-size entertainment on the go, and those content consumption habits are helping change how agencies approach the placement of advertising and where they place it to reach the correct eyeballs. Increasingly brands are on the search for less ad-crowded platforms such as TikTok, and when you compliment that with experiential on-ground activation, brands have a stronger chance of winning over new customers. I see outdoor continuing to be largely an independent medium from online until display technology in the region catches up with more advances in placement, smart interactivity and targeting. TV is continuing its journey towards cord-cutting as more siloed content is being produced by regional media and content companies (look at the recent Shahid Plus launch) as they push hard for better monetisation from subscriptions and ads. That will bring the medium a lot closer to digital and programmatic planning, and further away from offline.