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Project Agora’s Elie Chammas on bringing native advertising to regional markets

Elie Chammas, the new Regional Commercial Director for Project Agora

Native advertising is set to become a “major force” in regional the Middle East and Africa markets. That’s according to Elie Chammas, the new Regional Commercial Director for Project Agora – a leading Media Technology company with activity across CEEMEA & LATAM and a very strong presence in the MEA region.

Chammas will help the company collaborate more closely with local and regional media publishers, offering tech solutions that help both publishers and brands and encouraging new industries to adopt native advertising.

Q&A with Elie Chammas

Q. What makes native advertising effective?

Native advertising undoubtedly represents the 3rd pillar (next to search and social) of every successful marketing mix. Native advertising places a brand’s message at a very strategic point in the user experience, what we call “the moment of next”. This is the moment when users have finished reading an article and are ready to make their next move. It is the exact moment they are more open to exploring new content, products or services.

Native sponsored content is mixed with organic content creating the context for the ads to be noticed and clicked on. Meanwhile, the whole set-up and environment offer users the familiar infinite scroll experience they love from social media. 

We guarantee results across the entire funnel, by providing our native solution in a CPC & CPCV buying model. Through our extensive targeting options, we serve the right ad, to the right person, at the right time, every time, making sure the experience is highly personalized and hence effective. 

Combined with our huge scale, we provide a solution that is equivalent to that of Google and Social Media. It gives brands a global reach of 500M Daily Active Users on more than 9,000 sites around the world. 

Q. After being one of the 1st employees of TikTok in the MEA region, tell us more about your move to Project Agora.

I spent the last three years with ByteDance, as an Agency Partnership Lead for TikTok and it was a phenomenal experience being part of such a dynamic organization and team. The learnings and all the experience I acquired were very important to my career and my future steps. Before TikTok, I spent nine years as Sales Director with Choueiri Group and DMS. 

When the opportunity to work with Project Agora came up, I was thrilled. It was a chance to work with another fast-growing and innovative company, and I am happy that I will help shape their presence in the MEA region. 

I will be leading the operation across regional markets, including GCC & North Africa – working closely with marketing partners, media and clients. That means teaming up with media agencies & clients to offer a media mix model that will drive key results.

The potential of native advertising was indeed a huge draw for me. Project Agora has the right technology, and there is still a lot of room for us to grow and make our mark on many new industries, but also bring huge value to local publishers.

Q. Talking about publishers, how do they benefit from this technology?

Native advertising helps publishers generate more revenue from their website visitors. It creates a completely new advertising real estate to help them monetize their site, along with growing traffic and audience. 

Using native advertising technology, besides the sponsored content, publishers can also promote the organic content of their site to recirculate traffic and even exchange audiences between different sites of the same publisher. 

There are also a lot of additional features to keep traffic on their site longer, like users coming from external sources (social, chat apps), this way making the most value out of every single site visitor. 

Q. What are your plans for the region?

The plan for H2 is to grow the sales and account management team, work closely with our partners to drive awareness for native advertising and integrate it within their overall media mix.

Meanwhile, I am also in contact with the major publishing groups in the region – many of whom are working with Project Agora – to make sure that they capitalize on the opportunities arising from the increased demand. We are well on our way to developing a sustainable business that will benefit all the parties involved.