DUBAI: Digital advertising expenditure in the Middle East will grow at between 25% and 30% a year to reach $1bn by 2018, according to an industry expert.

Dimitri Metaxas, executive regional director, digital at Omnicom MENA, told Gulf Business that the market was a lot bigger than people thought.

"For the most part, when we speak about the size of the industry, we tend to focus solely on the agency business, and agencies tend to represent the top 100," he noted, but he argued that digital had enabled small companies who had not been able to advertise before to enter the market.

"Digital is often discussed as cannibalising things like TV or print or radio … but actually digital as an industry is doing a phenomenal job in expanding the pie in general by giving access that was never really there in the traditional days," he said.

He also observed that brands were slowly becoming "addicted" to the measurability offered by digital.

Looking ahead, he conceded that the industry faced challenges, not least in cultivating talent in the region.

"However in our industry, we are no longer having the debate about why online," he stated. "Now the discussion has moved forward to how and where – the dialogue has shifted."

Metaxas was talking on the sidelines of the Digital Media Forum in Dubai, which heard advice on the use of social media.

Manuel Schmidt, regional digital lead of German agency Wundermand, was to the point. "There is nothing more boring," he said, "than a brand talking about itself."

And Guy Yalif, head of global product marketing at Twitter, said that mobile users were primarily interested in brands and that interesting content could travel the world in a matter of hours.

"A tweeter doesn't necessarily have to have a huge following but it is the way he tweets that makes a difference," he said.

Data sourced from Gulf Business, Khaleej Times; additional content by Warc staff