Online advertising expenditure in Mena, estimated to be around $300 million today, is growing rapidly at 37 per cent a year and the spending is expected to reach $1 billion in 2017, a report said.
Digital branding and advertising are soaring in Saudi Arabia where it accounts for 33.3 per cent of online advertising expenditures in the Gulf region, it said.
Advertising on mobile devices in Mena is expected to grow to $85 million in 2014 from $50 million this year.
Digital marketing and advertising will be a key theme of the Second ArabNet Riyadh Forum, the largest gathering of digital professionals and entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia, taking place at the Four Seasons on December 3-4.
Increasing ad budgets mean growth for the entire digital sector, according to Omar Christidis, CEO and founder of ArabNet. He said: “Digital advertising is critical for the growth of Arab web and mobile businesses, so the rapid increase in spending means that online content and services can flourish.”
Michel Malkoun, managing director of DMS, confirms the rapid growth of digital advertising in the kingdom. “The Saudi Arabian digital advertising scene is witnessing massive growth, rising by roughly 30 per cent in 2013.”
The biggest spenders today include telecom, automotive, banking and finance, retail, and food and snacks. They account for about 40 per cent of the number of digital campaigns, said another report.
According to Malkoun, the Retail and Food & Snacks categories nearly doubled their activities from 2012 to 2013, while the Automotive sector increased by 57 per cent.
Marketing managers and advertisers are devoting more attention to social media, as it increasingly influences the consumer’s purchasing decisions. 85 per cent) of Saudis use social media to learn about a new restaurant, and about 73 per cent use it to find places such as shops and malls, and to learn about new products both in and out of Saudi Arabia, said a statement quoting reports.
Reviews and recommendations also have a major impact on the choices Saudi customers make: 87 per cent of Saudis trust their friends’ brand reviews, and 79 per cent have faith in complete strangers’ reviews. More than 90 per cent of all comments are aimed at helping, sharing information, and praising brands, it said.
Mobile advertising is also growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia, according to Wael AlFayez, deputy general manager of Saudi Research and Publishing Company. Mobile advertising includes a broad range of opportunities for digital advertisers, allowing them to include rich media within a mobile web page or application.
Digital and social media marketing will be among the important topics discussed at the ArabNet Riyadh Forum. The forum will feature sessions on digital strategies for marketing managers, social media case studies and research, and emerging advertising platforms, including mobile, performance and online video.
ArabNet Riyadh 2013 will feature 80 expert speakers from the tech industry, and will gather more than 800 digital professionals, influencers, entrepreneurs, and investors.
The event will also feature the ArabNet TechFair, an exhibition where more than 40 leading companies will showcase their digital products and services.