The GCC is a region of great opportunity; it is also fiercely competitive. Battles are increasingly fought on digital terrain and any company seeking leverage over competitors must enlist the help of a digital agency to mount that challenge.
In the digital marketing industry, technology has been evolving at the speed of light. The jump from Mad Men-era advertising tactics to today’s high tech digital marketing is like moving from the Lunar Lander to the Start-ship Enterprise. The modern day marketing crew has new roles, new duties, and new worlds of marketing possibilities to explore – new tools and technology to do it with. Let’s take a look.
The Rise of New marketing tools in UAE
- Mobile Marketing
- Advanced Analytics
- Marketing Automation
- Search Engine Optimization
- Search Engine Marketing
- Social Media
- Google AdWords
- Pay Per Click
Size of the Digital Marketing Industry in UAE
There are over 227 web designs and online marketing agencies operating business in GCC; there are 100+ digital agencies in the UAE alone. While there is some overlap in the types of services provided, most firms have developed their own market niches. Firms tend to become well known and recognized for their skills in a specific area such as web design and development, internet marketing, search engine optimization, design, software development, trainings, social media optimization or in a specific industry such as Government, Banking, Comm. and Tech, Hospitality, F&B, Health & Fitness, Publications, Radio, TV, Education, Real Estate, Events and SMEs.
Key selling Digital Services in the UAE
Digital Marketing is a very diverse industry. There are several of different services that agencies provide to all industries and industry sectors.
- Web Development
- Mobile Apps Development
- Business Applications
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Management
- PPC Management
Key Market Segments
Key market segments vary by agency specialty. The key markets for digital marketing are Government, Banking, Comm. and Tech, Hospitality, F&B, Health & Fitness, Publications, Radio, TV, Education, Real Estate, Events and SMEs. The total size of these markets is unknown because they are continually changing and there are no tracking mechanisms in place to accurately determine how much these market segments spend on digital marketing annually.
Business Process and Buying Criteria
The buying process for digital agencies varies by type of client and by type of service. Businesses find and chose digital agencies using several methods.
- Request for Proposal
- Open Bidding System (OBS)
Description of Digital Agency Industry Participants in the UAE
Digital Agencies are divided into large firms with more than 100 employees, medium sized firms with 20 to 100 employees and small firms with less than 20 employees. The large digital agencies are usually Asian; European or US based digital marketing agencies and include Digitas Lbi, Traffic Online, MBLM, Xische, Alifmeem Digital, Digital Nexa and LMTD. Small agencies typically have less than 15 employees.
Key Industry Trends
The digital marketing industry in UAE is growing for two key reasons. One is that demand for online marketing services is increasing as companies downsize and contract out work that was historically done in-house. Corporate downsizing has also resulted in many managers being laid off. It is difficult for many of these people to find similar employment and as a result, many of these managers start their own businesses. Approximately 10% become consultants, many providing freelance services to the firms they just left. Those who start other types of businesses may require specialized digital consulting services to improve their chances of success. Therefore corporate downsizing has resulted in an increase both in the supply of, and demand for, digital marketing services. The number of business starts in UAE has risen 20% annually over the last three years.
Distribution of Worldwide Internet Audience – The US is no Longer the Center of the Online Universe (Southeast Asia Digital Future in Focus 2013 report)
- GCC Internet users as of 30 June 2012
- Saudi Arabia – 13 million internet users
- United Arab Emirates – 5.8 million internet users
- 69% Males
- 31% Females
- Oman – 2.1 million internet users
- Kuwait – 1.9 million internet users
- Qatar – 1.6 million internet users
- Bahrain – .9 million internet users
- Digital marketing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is experiencing tremendous growth, according to an Econsultancy report, which has found that 58% of marketers are increasing their digital marketing budgets in 2015.
- Global average of Smartphone penetration is 41% with the highest is 74% in UAE. –Google report
- UAE is world’s smartphone leader.3 in 4 people in the United Arab Emirates own a smartphone. The UAE tops the list of countries with the highest smartphone penetration ahead of South Korea and Saudi Arabia. The United States is ranked 13th with a penetration rate of 56 percent.
- UAE dominates the online travel market in the Middle East, with a 60% market share –Report from PhoCusWright
- 6 million active Facebook users in the UAE –UAE Social Media Report
- 363,000 active Twitter users in the UAE –UAE Social Media Report
- $ 1,048 Avg. Online spending by UAE consumers (annually) –UAE Social Media Brands Report
- AED 50,000 Avg. Social media spending by UAE firms (annually) –UAE Social Media Brands Report
- In 2013, 58% of companies in the Middle East claimed to be planning an increase their digital market budgets, of which 52% are planning a budget, increase of at least 20%.
- An average of 60% of companies in the Middle East makes use of off-site social media and SEO (search engine optimization). This means that 6 out of 10 companies in the Middle East know what their target audience is searching for on the web!
- 98% of consumers in the Middle East are using Facebook as compared to 82% of companies in the region. This means that almost 10 out 10 consumers are listening on Facebook while only 8 out of 10 companies are speaking on Facebook.
- GCC countries dominant the top five Arab Facebook users as percentage of population, while the UAE remains at the top of the Arab region, followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan respectively.
- The total number of active Twitter users in the Arab world reached 5,797,500 users as of March 2014.
- In March 2014, the number of tweets estimated in the Arab region by active users was 533,165,900 tweets, an average of 17,198,900 tweets per day. 88% of these tweets were generated by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain.
- YouTube playbacks have doubled in the last year in the Arab region with 168 million video views a day, putting the region in the number two spot in the world.