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Saudi Report 2021: The first choice, by Snap’s Abdulla Alhammadi

Snap’s regional business lead, Abdulla Alhammadi explains Snapchat’s popularity among Saudis for media, entertainment and more.

Following the rapid growth of Snapchat in KSA in recent years, what is unique about Snapchat’s audience in KSA today?

There is a fundamental understanding of Snap’s full-value proposition, in communication, entertainment, commerce and more, that has led to a highly engaged Snapchat community in Saudi Arabia.

We now have a monthly addressable reach of 19.5 million users in the kingdom, which grew 16 per cent year-on-year as of March 2021. Snapchat reaches more people than Facebook or Instagram in the kingdom, with a reach of over 90 per cent of 13-34-year-olds.

This audience is not only large but is highly engaged on the platform. In Saudi Arabia, nearly 90 per cent of our daily users interact with Lenses every day. More people in KSA watched Snapchat Discover every day than any of the top 10 TV channels, both before and during Covid-19. In the busy Ramadan period, Snapchat had a higher open rate than Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in 2020. Snapchatters in KSA also spent an average of 77 minutes daily on the app during Ramadan last year, a 20 per cent increase year-on-year.

Snapchat continues to grow because we tap into the rich storytelling tradition of Saudi culture, and our continued emphasis on visual communication resonates with Saudi’s relatively young population. Our audience also appreciates how Snapchat’s design purposefully emphasises personal privacy through ephemeral messaging, facilitating connections between close friends and family without ‘share’, ‘like’, and other public metrics. Moreover, we see high engagement amongst the age bracket of 35 and up, more so than in many other global markets.

We recently unveiled a study exploring how Snapchatters in Saudi Arabia are adopting new behaviours and values. For example, the Snapchat generation is 1.2 times more likely than non-Snapchatters to feel like they are a part of others’ lives via their stories on apps. They also have significant discretionary spending power, estimated at a whopping SAR 1.4 trillion in KSA alone, outspending non-Snapchatters in many categories.

With Snap’s experience in augmented reality in particular, how do you apply those capabilities in KSA, and what do brands in KSA ask from you?

Snap has pioneered the innovation behind augmented reality (AR). The capabilities we offer our Snapchat community remain unparalleled. AR ultimately adds both utility and entertainment to people’s lives in Saudi Arabia. We are pushing the boundaries on both of these fronts.

With regards to our work with brands, our Saudi partners are working with us while recognising that AR is the future of immersive customer experiences. During last year’s KSA National Day period, more than 20 Lenses were activated on Snapchat by partners – including STC, Mobily and others – generating over 355,000 hours of AR playtime.

AR in Saudi has shifted from being something fun to play with to a utility. About 81 per cent of people in KSA expect and desire to use AR as a practical tool in their everyday lives. 96 per cent of Snapchatters in KSA agree that they’ll use AR the same amount or more when shopping next year. This is a huge opportunity for brands when you know that, globally, interacting with products that have AR experiences leads to a 94 per cent higher conversion rate.

We are thus developing the technology to facilitate virtual try-ons, catalogue browsing, showrooming and much more, with new campaigns being rolled out all the time.

With audiences in KSA hungry for mobile video content, what opportunities are you exploring?

Today, the Discover section of Snapchat has stories from publishers, creators, Snap Stars, the community and more. We want Discover to make a positive impact on our community through the content we feature. In Saudi Arabia, we have leaned into Shows and publisher content that reflects the diverse makeup of our community and their interests.

Snap already works with many premium content partners, from Rotana Media Group to MBC, Saudi Broadcasting Authority, Sky News Arabia, UTURN Entertainment and many more, in mutually beneficial relationships. We expose our audience to names they already know and trust, while we help broadcasters discover new audiences.

Separate to Discover, but related to mobile video, we just launched Spotlight – our newest user-generated entertainment platform. Our Saudi users will be presented with videos in a unique, personalised feed that is curated to them. Approximately 100 million Snapchatters engaged with Spotlight in only two months after launch in the US, and we expect similar enthusiasm in KSA.

As we approach the halfway mark of 2021, what are your priorities for the Saudi market over the rest of the year?

Our vision aligns with the broader digital transformation trends underway in Saudi Arabia, where innovative technologies create new value for organisations and raise the quality of life across communities. There’s no better and more exciting way to envision this future than through the camera.

During this year’s Snap Partner Summit, we also showcased over a dozen new partnerships and partner-powered innovations that help people express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world and have fun together.
Many of these updates are now being introduced in the region.

In the end, our unique competitive advantage of being one of the most used cameras in the kingdom – and the world – will enable us to keep shaping the future of how people experience the world around them, combining what they see in the real world through our camera with all that’s available to them in the digital world.

Read Campaign’s complete Saudi Report 2021 here.

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