Middle East sees low adspend per head

20 May 2009

DUBAI: The Middle East has one of the lowest regional levels of adspend per head worldwide, with the lack of established audience measurement systems and a fragmented media market said to be major factors contributing to this trend.

Speaking at the FT Society, Media and Technology Summit, Charbel Mezher, managing director of Fortune Promoseven, the ad agency network, said the Middle East is home to 300 million Arabic-speaking consumers, 40% of which are under the age of 35.

However, he also stated that the area "has the lowest per capita adspend" worldwide, with estimates currently standing at between $11 (€8; £7) and $37 per person over the region as a whole.

Sami Raffoul, general manager of the Pan Arab Research Centre, stated that the precise per capita adspend in Qatar reached $343 last year, up from $295 in 2007 and $241 in 2006.

By contrast, the comparative figure in the UAE stood at $296, declining to $143 in Bahrain, $65 in Oman and $40 in Saudi Arabia.

Jayne van Hoen, of the Financial Times, added that media consumption in the Middle East is "changing daily."

This includes an "escalating demand for real-time news and mobile entertainment," as well as multinational media companies attempting to increase their presence in the region. 

Neil Cook, managing editor of the Gulf Times, furthered that all media owners "have to buy into the fact that we live in changing and exciting times and recognise the need to invest in the future."

Marwan Rizk, coo of Intermarkets Advertising, also argued that a "new set of values" were required in the agency sector, with creative, media and digital shops focusing on offering unique solutions, rather just portraying themselves as "products."

Data sourced from The Gulf Times; additional content by WARC staff