Although the Middle East has a small share in the global advertising spend, the region has become a rich destination for marketers. In this article we’ll cover the state of digital ad spend in this region.

 

According to the Global Advertising Trends report, by IHS Markit, global advertising revenue is expected to grow to $590 billion in 2017 from $532 billion in 2016, showing a 7.1% growth. According to Gulf Marketing Review, based on IHS Markit report, “online” will remain as the fastest growing medium with 14%.

According to Statista, in 2017 revenue in the digital advertising market amounts to $4,041million. Also the market’s largest segment is Search Advertising with a market volume of $2,104 million in 2017. As expected mobile will lead the market with $2,449 million of total revenue in the digital advertising market in 2021.

1. Revenue Split - Desktop / Mobile 2017 - Source: Statista
1. Revenue Split – Desktop / Mobile 2017 – Source: Statista

In the recent years, experts have predicted that the Middle East and North Africa will show a strong growth in digital advertising. According to Dentsu Aegis Network, the United States remains as the leading market in the world, accounting for 37.7% of global advertising spend in 2017. A trend in advertising spend shows that emerging markets are continuing to overshadow the developed economies. Following the heavy advertising campaigns for US elections and the Olympics, developed economies are expected to show a slowdown in investments in this sector in 2017. Counterwise, ad spend in the Middle East and Africa, followed by Asia Pacific are showing a high growth in revenue.

2. Global Comparison - Revenue 2017 - Source: Statista
2. Global Comparison – Revenue 2017 – Source: Statista

 

The Middle East

Although the Middle East has a small share in the global advertising spend, the region has become a rich destination for marketers. Only 10% of MENA ad spend is on the digital market according to Istizada, an Amman-based internet marketing agency, but experts believe that the shift towards digital is taking place with a good pace. Let’s take a look at the advertising spend in three Middle Eastern countries, UAE (biggest market for advertisers in the region), Turkey (a market in-between Asia and Europe) and Iran (a fresh and untapped market in the Middle East).

“Digital ad space buying has already had its revelation in MENA. The programmatic has been a rich practice through the GCC region in the past years,” said Davood Hakimi Mood, Business Development Director of Adro Ad Exchange. According to Hakimi Mood countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq are also expected to drastically expand into programmatic advertisement. “We are looking to internet accessibility and mobile penetration rates, and it’s not so hard to forecast the rise of programmatic in this region as well,” he added.

3. Digital Ad Spending in the Middle East and North Africa - Source: eMarketer
3. Digital Ad Spending in the Middle East and North Africa – Source: eMarketer

 

United Arab Emirates

In the first quarter of 2016, UAE came first place in the list of GCC countries in advertising spending. Advertisers spent $531 million in the UAE, followed in the second place by Saudi Arabia with $312 million, Kuwait with $144 million according to TBWA as reported by The Gulf Today.

Television remains the biggest medium of advertising in the UAE — which accounted for 3.37 billion in revenues in 2015 — and the market is seeing a decrease in some offline mediums and an increase in digital.

4. Total Ad revenues in MENA by platform - Source: Mideastmedia.org
4. Total Ad revenues in MENA by platform – Source: Mideastmedia.org

 

Turkey

Despite the internal conflicts in Turkey, digital ad expenditure is expected to increase in this country with the global trends. IAB Turkey AdEx-TR 2015 Report reveals that, digital ad investments in Turkey in 2015 reached 1673.2 million TL (476 million USD) with a 18.8% growth. According to IAB Turkey, the biggest growth shown in Mobile category by 61%, in Video category 33.6% and in In-game Advertising by 30.6% compared to 2014 figures. See more of IAB’s statistics from this link.

 

Iran

As for Iran, digital ad spending is estimated to be worth $53 million (without including social media), according to Adro. Though this number might seem minor comparing to the developed countries, experts believe that there’s a big potential in this market as Iranian ad networks are being connected to other networks in the region, Europe and North America. Due to financial sanctions imposed on Iran, social media advertising which is a big part of digital advertising is not active in Iran. Only Telegram which is a messaging app/social media is accounted for almost $23.3 million in revenue in Iran.

5. Non-digital and Digital Ad Spend in Iran - Source: Iran Adtech Overview/TechRasa
5. Non-digital and Digital Ad Spend in Iran – Source: Iran Adtech Overview/TechRasa
6. Iran Programatic Advertising Spend Share by Device 2016 - Source: Iran Adtech Overview/TechRasa
6. Iran Programatic Advertising Spend Share by Device 2016 – Source: Iran Adtech Overview/TechRasa

 

For more information about the state of advertising in Iran, you can visit this link.

Do you have any experience in digital advertising in any of the regions mentioned above? What opportunities do you see lying in this sector in MENA?

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