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International Nomads | Are Arab Marketers Going To Wake Up?


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Are Arab Marketers Going To Wake Up?

2011 was a dramatic year in the world of advertising. A recent study of advertising and marketing in the U.S. has shown that, in 2011, the spending on digital advertising and marketing overtook the spending on traditional print advertising.

Are our Marketers really aware of this?

When one deals on a daily basis with marketers in Saudi (agency or client side); the discovery is made that 85% are still fixed in a traditionalist mind-set, and are scared to switch from traditional Marketing to Digital Marketing. The common excuse is that “the Market is still not ready,” or that “investment in digital requires too much compared to traditional forms.” A more unique, response is that “the culture in Saudi still will not accept digital advertising.”

Do our Marketers really understand the tools of the digital age?
Do they really know that 43% of the total population of Saudi are surfing the Internet. There are over 4.5 Million Facebook users in Saudi alone, and more than 34% of them have a smart phone. (I could go further and comment that 51% of the smart phone users work with apps all day long).
It must be clear that the market is completely ready for all kinds of digital marketing.

As mentioned earlier, another of the major concerns remains returns on investment. With that in mind, I would like to highlight a case study that our team was working on recently.
The client had a retail base, and they publish a weekly leaflet to advertise their prices and goods. They requested from us a solid digital plan that contained online media and social media engagement, along with a revamp of their existing website. Once complete, the client noticed that the number of leaflet subscribers has increased by 30%. Beyond that, the website had received 25% more hits and the Facebook page that we created had achieved 75,000 fans in the space of just three months.
What about the return for investment? What about the bottom-line? Looking at the Facebook page alone, the client is now able, at the single click of a button, to notify 75,000 people about a promotion. Notifications could happen on a weekly basis. When this is compared with traditional media, a print-run of 75,000 leaflets might cost much more than a click of a button: its investments that could be spent else where.

Beyond that, don’t forget that with a print publication every extra page designed needs to be paid for. Online, as many pages as are needed can be uploaded without extra cost. And, did I mention that digital marketing tools mean that it’s all measurable? We submit a report to our client, detailing the exact payback for every Halalah invested – through the email campaign; the Facebook page; or the website traffic – something that cannot be achieved through traditional advertising media.
There is not the time or space to look at the final point: there is always indirect return on investment through the digital presence (brand awareness and the more important these days brand presence) that is always worth a lot of money to clients.

So, two points I wanted to highlight through this article. First, that the Market is completely ready for digital investment, and second, that the return for investment is much higher when compared to traditional media, even when just considering one single platform (Facebook).

The big question remains however; are the Brands in the region are ever going to wake up and start directing their clients into digital? Or will they keep burying their heads in the sand? It’s the last quarter of 2011 and all the marketing plans for 2012 are developing. We can only wait and see what the coming days will tell us.

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