As internet penetration nears maturity in the Middle East, new advances in technology and the popularity of the medium are fuelling the growth in digital advertisements.
In 2007, the GCC market witnessed an increase of about 50 per cent, capping six years of continuous double-digit growth.
Cashing in on this success, OMD Digital, part of the Omnicom Media Group, which operates the communications planning networks OMD and PHD, saw substantial growth in the region and has introduced 44 brands from its sister agencies’ portfolio, in addition to securing several digital-only accounts. OMD Digital’s billings grew by 155 per cent in 2007 over the previous year, while its market share grew from an estimated 25 per cent in 2006 to about 30 per cent in 2007, said to company officials.
Unofficial figures put the total market value at about $45 million (Dh165.1m) in terms of gross billings. The medium still has not reached the landmark one per cent of total advertising investments in the GCC but it is getting closer every year.
“There is a definite positive trend in the digital advertising market,” said Dimitri Metaxas, Director of OMD Digital. “Whether you look at clients’ enthusiasm for the medium, development of new sites, technologies and formats, even the mergers and acquisitions activity in the region, digital advertising is definitely maturing,” he said.
Metaxas said international trends are adopted and adapted locally faster than ever before. “Social networking sites and video sharing have quickly been localised and we now have a host of regional versions, including in Arabic language, which all contribute to driving people online,” he said.
Between 2000 and 2007, internet penetration grew faster in the Middle East than anywhere else in the world, increasing by 920 per cent against a world average rate of 265 per cent.
Metaxas said: “The rise in online population, a very interesting audience for advertisers, the rise in broadband and 3G penetration, the current WiMax tests, more interactive, engaging and entertaining adverts and appealing sites are all key drivers of growth.”
OMD Digital billings grow by 155% in 2007 over 2006