LONDON: Advertising expenditure in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will top $10bn in the next five years, almost double the current figure, as a new study says better measurement techniques will boost the industry.

The Global TV and OTT Video Advertising report from specialist business intelligence firm Informa Telecoms & Media includes TV data for 69 countries with forecasts out to 2018.

MEA generated TV advertising revenues of $5.9bn in 2012, a figure that is expected to rise 6.8% to reach $6.3bn in 2013. Informa projected a compound annual growth rate of 10.2% for the years 2013 to 2018, by when the region's TV advertising revenues will amount to $10.2bn.

Adam Thomas, Informa's Media Research Manager, noted that most channel ratings measurement had been "very old school" in the region for many years.

"They are usually based on interviews and tend to inspire little confidence as to their reliability," he said. "At a very basic level, this makes it very difficult to assess whether advertising investment is reaching audience levels that justify the outlay."

But the situation was changing with, for example, the launch of sophisticated people-meter technology in the UAE, which Thomas described as a "positive step". As a result he expected that "this movement towards more advanced measurement will continue over the next few years and our forecasts assume revenues will grow as a result".

The first results of this new system showed that, as in other territories, reality TV was a popular choice for viewers, with talent show Arab Idol topping the UAE ratings.

Chris O'Hearn, general manager of the Emirates Media Measurement Company, told Dubai website 7DAYS that the data highlighted promising trends for advertisers such as a spike in mid-afternoon viewing after government workers and school children returned home.

He hoped that such nuanced data would encourage major media groups to embrace the new technology. As he observed: "In the US no-one asks 'what is the No.1 channel?'. They ask 'what is the No.1 channel for women aged between 25 and 45?'"

Data sourced from Informa, 7DAYS; additional content by Warc staff