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Panel Discussion: Middle East advertising held back by lack of transparency, accountability

Facebook MENA, Nielsen, OMD, Flip Media, Arabian Radio Network and Motivate Publishing voice the advertising industry's challenges and strategies...

September 12, 2012 12:51 by

As Mark Zuckerberg detects hints of criticism and sniping remarks at his first public appearance since the company’s IPO, he confidently announces that the team is working on some “killer stuff” in the mobile segment. Was he right?

Mobile advertising, digital advertising or even good old-fashioned print advertising, particularly as the Middle East experiences incredible economic recovery, is now in under the microscope lens. The ‘we’re in recession’ excuse that many media buyers, advertisers and digital platforms have grown accustomed to falling back on since the financial crisis plagued the world’s industries is now running thin. On the other hand, brainstorming for new ideas, steps forward and strategies of integration (rather than rivalry) are currently in session.

As the heads of ‘content mediums’, media buyers and social platforms gather to discuss the advertising trends in the Middle East and how the future could pan out for the industry, Mamoon Sbeih, Managing Director, APCO – Arab Region talks about the crumbling effects of the recession but highlights its silver lining of brands and advertisers wisely deciding to act more intelligently, expect nothing but the most accurate and efficient results and be more attentive. Kipp only wonders why they weren’t doing that earlier, though.

Nevertheless, what Jonathin Labin (Facebook MENA), Joe Marritt (Motivate Publishing), Yousseff Toqan (Flip Media), Sarah Messer (Nielsen), Steve smith (Arabian Radio Network) and Nadim Samara of OMD Dubai seem to have in common, besides a slightly more positive perspective on the penetration of certain segments of the industry, is the realization that posing the correct questions will lead you to the correct solutions and that no matter how much confidence you may have in your chosen medium of content channeling, integration with other mediums is of the utmost importance.

Comme ci comme ca? Non! Tres Bien!

While Kipp didn’t expect to hear words of failure and let downs, we did however, expect to hear of the challenges that each medium has and is currently facing within the advertising industry. We heard plenty but not nearly enough to truly represent the hindrances that stand in the way of this region’s boom. Let’s delve right in.

Steve Smith highlighted the (what he described as) phenomenal numbers that radio stations are attracting. Mind you, he spoke about listening from a non-traditional platform such as applications and online streaming, subsequently displaying the importance of integrating with other mediums that, in essence, are technically competing for advertisers’ money.

Jonathan Labin took Facebook’s name with pride as he claimed that the social giant’s advertising success is owed to their dual strategy approach that combines the statistical power of allowing brands to have accurate targeting and an enormous reach and the philosophical influence that relates back to hundreds of years worth of word-of-mouth marketing. “Friends trust their friends while less than 50 percent say that they trust advertising,” Labin says. Bringing back that relationship that is lost on many other advertising mediums is what Facebook is all about.

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