Industry snapshot: Kamal El Agha, Havas Middle East

Kamal El Agha, head of adtech, Havas Middle East

What were the biggest shifts you saw in digital in 2021?

Cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse each got pushed forward – from inception to incorporation into activations – progressively faster in the cultural narrative.

Digital transformation was further prioritised, resulting in large pushes toward e-commerce and increasing expectations of fast outcomes.

What will the most notable changes be in 2022?

Loss of third-party cookies, more focus on privacy and an increase in performance-focused digital buys will challenge the cost efficiencies of digital media. This will drive brands and agencies to build alternative and more accurate measurement methods of digital and offline channels.

Brands will put more efforts into improving their direct connections with consumers. The brands that can demonstrate utility and convenience in consumers’ daily lives will be the winners here.

Agencies will embark on a new journey to upskill and build capabilities that tackle the evolving needs of clients pertaining to the rise of NFTs and the metaverse.

Where are the biggest challenges this year, and how should clients overcome them?

On one hand, changing the mindset when it comes to digital strategies: going beyond shortcuts to awareness, and creating long-term, effective digital content.

On the other, as more paid streaming media takes up a bigger chunk of consumers’ digital diets, the opportunity to advertise to these consumers will be reduced. Alternative touchpoints will need to be explored by brands and agencies in order to better target them.

What should clients do to make the most of the biggest opportunities?

Having a digital mindset with a consumer-centric approach does not mean having to exclusively use digital media channels. A consumer-focused mindset is a more important attribute to have, with digital media channels used as a tool to reach consumers.

If clients challenge their own assumptions and discuss ideas with their agencies earlier in the process, they can identify and act on big opportunities as they emerge.

What digital new year’s resolution should people make this year?

To reframe digital as what it really is: a means to connect with people, and not a goal in itself; use it to amplify while focusing on real experiences.

Realise that consumers are constantly being bombarded with content, ads and ads disguised as content. New approaches and executions should be tested in order to stand out.