DUBAI: Digital adspend in the Middle East and North Africa is forecast to grow at 35% a year over the period to 2015, new figures show.

Deloitte's Arab Media Outlook, featuring interviews with 140 industry stakeholders across 17 markets covering all the major platforms, says that digital advertising currently accounts for around 4% of advertising spending in the region but it is increasing rapidly and could be worth $580m within a few years.

At the heart of this is the increasing consumer interaction with various digital platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

"Consumers here are heavy users of [these] devices and advertisers know that," Saguto Santino, telecommunications, media and technology partner at Deloitte Middle East, told Gulf News.

"There is a trend in innovation and what is fashionable among consumers," agreed Jean Traboulsi, managing director of advertising agency Leo Burnett in the UAE.

And he added that the quicker the technologies are made available by telecoms operators, the more digital ads will be available.

Mobile advertising in the region has been growing as more consumers choose internet-enabled smartphones, and developers create mobile applications and websites.

But its development has been held back by privacy concerns. "Some still see a mobile as a private device," Traboulsi said, with people hesitating to respond to promotional text messages, for example.

Digital is unlikely to supplant traditional advertising, but will develop a niche role. "Traditional will still be used," suggested Traboulsi, "but digital is more likely to close the deal [on a product or service]."

Data sourced from Gulf News; additional content by Warc staff