DUBAI: Digital advertising is growing fast in the Middle East and North Africa, with online video in particular making inroads across the region, according to local industry figures.

Hazam Al Zayat, the business director at BPG Possible, the digital arm of the Dubai-based marketing solutions group, told Gulf News that he expected online digital content consumption to surpass TV in the near future.

Pointing to a recent eMarketer study into how Americans are set to consume more content online than TV, he predicted a similar trend in the Middle East and said the development of customised digital content for brands in the region is "surely the way to go".

"With the rise of digital media, every brand has become a publisher and hence a content developer/creator. Creation of innovative content has become necessary to keep them competitive," he said.

The shift towards digital has prompted some local agencies to improve their range of services. For example, ikoo, the largest online advertising network in the region, has launched a video-based platform to enable advertisers to reach audiences in addition to those viewing traditional TV commercials.

Wisam Edgheim, the director of video and premium reach at ikoo, explained: "All TV commercials can be re-formatted to be executed on a digital video platform; nowadays, it is much easier to adapt creative across digital platforms."

With users in MENA playing as many as 100m videos on YouTube each day, Edgheim also suggested that digital video engages users more than TV commercials.

He said: "A primary difference between TV commercials and digital video is the engagement element which leads to a higher brand and message recall, as well as a higher click-through rate allowing the user to take a proactive part in the call to action, immediately and on the spot."

"Advertisers should select the right creative execution to allow consumers to obtain more information about the product or service being advertised, which creates brand engagement," he added.

Data sourced from Gulf News, eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff