The situation in Oman – by Bechir Chehab

JC Decaux's country managing director explains how Covid-19 has affected the sultanate

By Bechir Chehab, managing director Oman, JC Decaux

The advertising spend in Oman, like most of the worldwide markets has been affected significantly due to COVID19. The decline in spend started at the end of Q1 2020 and considerably after the closure of the airports and Muscat city lockdown.

Exposure has seen a very different turn since the global pandemic started, particularly across print, radio, cinema and transport, which all took the most violent hit. However, we could see an increase in digital platforms including streaming and cable media. Intercity borders are closed, yet city curfews were not implemented. This still enabled commuting within the city, and so the reach through street furniture was not negatively impacted. Moreover, street furniture in Oman is audience-specific, reaching out to targeted areas for targeted consumers.

As a result of social distancing and being homebound, consumers are spending more time online to virtually connect with others and stream entertainment. Alongside this shift in user behaviour, industries are also adapting to the knock-on effects of the pandemic.

Local and international brands have been extremely smart and responsive as they have adapted their creative artwork to stay engaged through brand awareness and emotional messaging during this period on various media. On the street furniture assets, for example, Omantel praised the Royal Oman Police and Medical Personnel; Bank Muscat encouraged consumers to use their new mobile app and online banking for transactions instead of their physical branches; Talabat encouraged users to order home delivery; McDonalds ensured that their premises are safe, clean and follow precautionary measures.

JCDecaux has conducted recent studies and concluded that the effectiveness of selecting a media mix between digital and OOH is much stronger than selecting these mediums as stand-alone. The results showed + 52 per cent average dwell time looking at the ad and + 133 per cent for spontaneous brand recall. Taking this example, the best industry practice for clients is to identify the right mix of media based on the country’s consumer behaviour towards advertising.

Due to COVID-19 the advertising industry will face a long recovery period. For this reason, media owners should be ready to create a new approach with clients, offering a balance between commercial value and strategic reach.

Pre COVID-19, we saw the use of TV and newspaper media mix declining whilst social media and OOH has been increasing year on year. This trend will continue in the future mainly because of the socio-economic and geo-cultural behavior.

JCDecaux, number one worldwide in outdoor advertising launched its operations in Oman in 2012. Its currently running two long-term contracts: with Muscat Municipality to operate street furniture, advertising in Muscat and Oman Airports for the airport advertising in Muscat, Salalah, Duqm and Sohar.