The MENA Power List 2021: What we know today about the future of our industry, by Choueiri Group’s Pierre Choueiri

By Pierre Choueiri, Chairman and CEO, Choueiri Group

Operating in the face of unprecedented global economic, political and pandemic-related disruptions, the region’s media and advertising industry stands at a critical turning point.

With the majority of stakeholders learning to exercise greater agility and adapting to uncharted challenges in the ‘new normal’, our industry is setting aside everything we had previously known to become more reactive and creative about the solutions we provide. We have truly found ourselves centre stage in a world where change is the only constant.

To peek into the future requires us firstly to take stock of advertising expenditures and see how they have fared against recent pressures.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, industry-wide ad spending (global and regional) further decreased, before gaining some stabilising momentum in early 2021, with Covid-19 vaccines and economic recovery rolling out. At this time, digital continued to gather the greater share of ad spend (48 per cent of the total industry). Television, meanwhile, recovered some of the viewership it was losing pre-Covid-19, due to an increase in stay-at-home TV consumption during the pandemic. Regaining its audience attachment, and even attracting some new viewers, TV advertising revenues and share have remained stable across 2021.

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Video and TV’s extension to advertising-funded video on demand (AVOD), subscription-funded video on demand (SVOD) and social media platforms, which have higher reach and impact with younger viewers such as Gen Z, have ensured that video advertising has become a much sought-after opportunity. In today’s performance-marketing-oriented environment, TV will continue to place more tools at the disposal of clients in a bid to generate enhanced return on investment. With reach no longer serving as the main metric, time spent will become the most important metric for planning, transacting and measuring media. Privacy will also be an increasingly central concern, especially as support for third-party cookies phases out and a new digital era when consumers own their data and decide who gets to use it begins.

In this transforming landscape, consumer behaviour and preferences have naturally become very complex and difficult to decipher. As marketers set out to communicate, determining how long their audiences’ habits sustain and what implications they will have on media hubs and brands is becoming an uphill task. This, coupled with the brands focusing heavily on their bottom lines, makes our jobs all
the more difficult.

Pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing also played a major role in shaping digital shoppers and highlighting e-commerce as a focal point for our industry’s future. A host of new, as well as traditional, retail players are expected to boost this sector in the coming two years by 80 per cent (from $26.9bn in 2018 to $48.6bn in 2022).

With technology-driven innovations becoming the lifeblood of our industry’s evolution, data and measurement are the undeniable keys to sustainable growth. With the media scene becoming increasingly fragmented, regional brands have long suffered from the lack of a reliable measurement system, which would allow them to see where their advertising dollars are going and to gauge effectiveness and ROI. Moving forward, cross-media measurement will lead to the power of data growing exponentially at the centre of the entire ecosystem, while ensuring that different vehicles receive a fairer share of advertising revenues. The resulting increased measurement and transparency will give brands greater confidence about their advertising investments and provide a major boost to the growth of the MENA ad market’s overall size.

At Choueiri Group, we are resolute in our commitment to investing in data and research, state-of-the-art technology and e-commerce, as the cornerstone foundations which will drive the growth of our industry.

Our focus on content and creative, e-commerce, performance and data, as well as our consultative and servicing capabilities, has allowed us to introduce several 360-degree advertising products and solutions that enable brands to simultaneously address all the aforementioned concerns and succeed well into the future.

Professional highlight of the year

At Choueiri Group, this year has allowed us to consolidate our strengths and build upon our capabilities to deliver more to our clients and brand partners while supporting our publishers via consultative services and 360-degree products, which will enable them to thrive well into the future. The Group has focused-in on its investments in tech, data, content and service excellence, and has taken on a variety of new partnerships with best-of-breed global experts with an aim of developing new means and avenues for success, which will contribute to the sustained growth of the region’s industry. 

Rapid fire

What are you working on?
Improving the ad industry.

What are you worrying about?
Short termers (hit-and-run).

What are you smiling at?
My grandchildren.

What are you reading?
The Art of War.

What are you watching?
The Last Flight.

What are you eating?
Your guess: eternal diet.

What are you listening to?

What are you playing?
Building Lego.

What’s your hobby?

What’s your good habit?
Always seeing the positive side
of bad things.

What’s your bad habit?
I hate stupidity.

Who are you learning from?