Our MENA CEO resets the dial on what to expect in 2018
So, did I catch you off-guard? Every year, I share my predictions with Campaign using the year as a marker for the number of upcoming themes. Given the period of unprecedented disturbance we’ve been facing, I thought it was time to revisit things. Looking back at last year’s list, there was one prediction I vastly underestimated and that was the severity of cuts in advertising investments in the region. I projected a 10 per cent drop in 2017, and it will end up closer to 20 per cent. So, this year, I’ll only make 12 predictions for two reasons; first, because that’s all we can afford, and second, you’ll have less content to contend with!
Joking aside, there is more to this than disruption or cyclical trends. It’s been a double-whammy of both at the same time. The first blow comes from the ongoing wars in the region, the low oil prices, new taxation and the reduction of subsidies across the GCC. There is also the impact of Saudisation, with the kingdom losing some 2 million people in the last two years, and the 50 per cent currency devaluation in Egypt. This led to either a stagnation or a drop in sales, and some clients overreacted with severe and, in some cases, unjustified budget cuts. Consequently, the MENA market has shed some 35 per cent of total media investments since 2015. We’ve gone from $5.5 billion to a projected $3.6 billion by the end of 2017.
The second trend is more transformative, caused by changing consumer habits and advancements in technology. First, the Facebook/Google duo continues to dominate the market and put publishers under added strain, resulting in layoffs and an ongoing struggle to pivot. Secondly, consultancies are encroaching on our business so we must transform quickly and purposefully, adding greater value to our clients with our strategic thinking. Thirdly, as we access more useful data and consumers become increasingly attention-poor, we need to revisit traditional planning approaches. Moving from targeting masses to targeting individuals at scale, it’s less about just media performance and more about delivering long-term business value.
For 2018, I want to reset the dial and move away from the clichéd buzzwords that have dominated the last few years (AI, AR, VR, IoT) and focus instead on what will affect us here in MENA.
Read Elie’s 12 for ’18 predictions in full on Campaign Middle East.