Communicate spoke with Alain David, Chief Digital Officer of JGroup and General Manager of Promofix, to learn more about where the MENA region stands when it comes to advertising on OTT platforms.
Could you give an overview of OTT advertising in the MENA region? Where are we standing? How are advertisers attempting to control this space?
To understand the state of OTT advertising in MENA, let me first give you some context about the industry as a whole. According to the Mobile Economy Middle East & North Africa 2020 report, the number of unique mobile subscribers in MENA reached the 400 million mark during 2020. This number represented approximately 65% of the population. In the next five years, the mobile market in the region will reach several milestones. For example, half a billion mobile broadband connections will be achieved by 2021, more than half of the population will be subscribing to mobile internet services by 2023 and 700 million mobile connections by 2025. The launch of 5G services will turn the tide again for the better. Given this scenario, the OTT space in MENA is flourishing beyond our imagination.
With people choosing OTT as a preferred mode of media and content consumption, advertisers have now resorted to programmatic and performance driven advertising platforms. We leverage programmatic platforms by FoxPush and performance-led solutions by Digimotive to implement targeted marketing and advertising campaigns with accurate and precise results while serving on OTT platforms. These technologies enable transparency across all channels and process, and most importantly, compels us to exercise a higher degree of control over quality, relevance and personalization in terms of brand positioning.
What are the challenges advertisers are currently facing when it comes to advertising in this space?
One of the biggest challenges advertisers are facing, is the dynamic shift from traditional to digital advertising. This shift was accelerated by the pandemic. However, digital advertising is proving to be a strong suit and a game changer in many aspects within advertising.
With numerous streaming platforms available at our fingertips, how can advertisers navigate and curate a strategy to secure mind space amongst the audience?
The first step to curate a strategy for an advertising campaign on a streaming platform is to have trust. Advertisers need to build their trust towards OTT platforms as a primary medium for their campaigns. The second step is to choose a “trusted” partner who will not just sell you advertising services but will guide your conversation with the audience – which many companies overlook. For example, programmatic advertising allow brands to get real-time feedback and information from their target audience. It is like having a two-way conversation. This two-way conversation helps brands to tailor their approach to address the needs of their audience and make their messaging authentic and relevant. This can complement the overall strategy and will translate into a successful campaign. The third step is to collaborate with the streaming platform on user profiling, exploring different target options, languages, creatives and interaction points to achieve desired viewer reactions.
Many OTT platforms offer ad-free experiences. Most adopt a subscription business model and it's proven to be lucrative. Indirectly, it's also created an atmosphere where consumers prefer ad-free content. How should advertisers approach this behavior?
There are two known ways to navigate this situation without upsetting consumers: second screen and highly personalized ads. It has been reported that consumers often or always use a second screen such as a laptop, mobile, tablet or a handheld gaming device while consuming content over an OTT. People might be watching their favorite series online, but they are also scrolling through their feed on a second screen because of the fear of missing out on trends. This offers a gateway for advertisers to capture mind space.
Highly personalized ads in a less intrusive format will always make its way to consumers. This is where user profiles and target advertising comes into play and is critical to ensure a seamless transition to an ad and help viewers of the platform keep an open mindset towards ads.