The changing digital marketing landscape in the Middle East

Middle east digital marketing

Digital marketing is a dynamic field, and marketers are facing constant change. What is great today becomes out of date by tomorrow.

On top of that, if you work in different markets, like MintTwist do, you have to understand the differences of each market and also understand that trends evolve differently in each region. That makes our job challenging, but also exciting.

The Middle East digital marketing landscape is evolving quickly and somewhat differently from Europe. The US and Europe lead digital markets but the Middle East is rapidly adjusting to the changes in the industry.  Digital marketing is now an acknowledged component in strategies, and its value is rising.

According to E-Consultancy, the majority of MENA marketing professionals still spend most of their budget in traditional marketing techniques such as direct mail, newspaper advertising or live events. However, new online channels such as email marketing, social media and PPC are rapidly gaining a greater share of budgets.

Social media and email marketing are currently the most attractive channels. More than 85% of companies have used social media to some degree, and 20% of them invest heavily in it.

One of the main reasons why social media marketing is thriving in comparison to other channels, is the high smartphone and mobile broadband penetration in the Middle East. During 2012, mobile broadband penetration was close to 50%, with several countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain topping the rankings.

While marketers are still trying to keep up with the changes in the industry, the high mobile penetration brings new challenges. Mobile marketing is especially important in countries like Egypt where most users access internet through their mobile devices. In fact, 80% of Egyptian users buy at least once a month from their mobile.

So, what can we expect?

The future of digital marketing in the Middle East is leading towards several clear trends.

Social media

Despite the good numbers shown above, social media marketing will keep increasing in the region. The region’s youthful population and increased broadband access will fuel this.

Video marketing

Social platforms and the high penetration of the mobile broadband have turned Video Marketing into a channel with lots of potential. In 2012 video was accountable for around 40% of the mobile data traffic in the region, and it is expected to continue growing in the future. 56% of advertisers in the region are planning to increase their spending on video marketing.

Integrating traditional and new marketing techniques

Companies all over the world are trying to create multi-channel strategies that involve both types of advertising. In general marketers are increasing their digital budget by reducing the traditional advertising spending, however this may not be the case in the Middle East. 97% of companies consider print advertising to be extremely effective and its spending is predicted to grow in the future, in tandem with digital advertising.

Local search

This is a direct consequence of the high mobile internet penetration. Around 80% of mobile search have local intent, which means that most users search for services around them. Mobile ads spending grew significantly during 2012 and it is expected to grow not only in platforms like Adwords, but also local search engines like YADIG.

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