How to influence people in the Middle East.

It’s a strange thing being brought up surrounded by different cultures compared to those I’ve met who have never actual ventured abroad… Long story short the reason I wrote this was because my agent asked me to haha and I ended up finding it really interesting when I was researching and asking questions… btw I understand it maybe quite rambleyyyy but here ya goo…

‘How has the advertising world essentially changed due to modernization’ is one question most people in the marketing industry try to wrap their heads around to keep their businesses going. Before I started writing this I asked myself what is the difference between traditional and digital? It never really came to my attention before as I am in the generation of which digital has taken over our lives compared to our parents and grandparents or family who have never experienced what we are experiencing today as young adults. As we are all aware technology in the Middle East is developing quickly because of the age of the population. Take Saudi Arabia, for example, a country that is passing through a unique demographic period. Approximately 37 per cent of the population is below the age of 14. Those under the age of 25 accounts for around 51 per cent. Universally 16-24 year olds spend on average 7.5 hours a day online. (These results are from PayFort’s Inographic on Global webIndex’s media consumption report.)
 

The marketing and advertising industry in the Middle East has started to flourish after a century-long infancy. Why is this? This may be due to more people being interested in photography and uploading everything about their lives online so that is how I think the region’s advertising has shifted from traditional to digital… modernization. Social media recently reaches a far greater audience than it ever did before and has print advertising in decline. Social media influencers are in great demand from companies wanting them to promote their services and products.

 

Yet, traditional advertising is traditionally what the majority of us expect when talking about marketing and advertising. This incorporates the ‘normal’ media position such as newspapers/magazines, radio, TV adverts and outdoor billboards. With traditional advertising the material can be kept in hand (which I know because my newspaper editor father has loads of papers hidden away as if my mother didn’t know) and also it is sometimes much more easily understood. Print media continues to influence audiences but the most successful nowadays incorporate social media elements as part of the package to reach the younger, tech-savvy generation. However, print or radio advertisements can be very costly and results on this marketing cannot be measured accurately and time efficiently, some critics suggest. Let’s face it… it is 2017 right now and many businesses have to think who their exact targets are and what they use and work out the best way to grow in a cost effective manner. Even though there are some dinosaurs looking at traditional advertising alone it is clear that to many the ‘tradition’ is changing.

 

Having grown up in a media-savvy family, in my opinion it is apparent that there is a growing change for advertising in the Middle East from traditional to digital… One example is the growing popularity of my father’s YouTube channel reviews, which compliment the written word and attract advertising from five star hotels as a result, whereas other publications are losing business.

 

Less people are advertising in the newspapers and more use their own websites, social media accounts and, as mentioned earlier, social media influencers. My own Instagram account has grown in popularity and attracted the attention of numerous brands. Influencers who have a busy social media get paid to post product information and offer their followers discount codes and links to prove how successful this method of advertising and brand promotion can be. This brings us onto digital advertising alone. Fundamentally this means marketing is digitally displayed via the web, smart phones, hand-held media devices and also automobiles/electronic billboards. Many clients in the Middle East have embraced digital and found it to be a cost effective way to not only reach local markets but also international ones like never before. The challenge is to make the content interesting and useful. This is because the audience can be fickle and demanding and the content has to be user friendly taking into account the various ways outlined on accessing the information. If you can get it right the benefits are enormous as for the first time, brands can truly interact with their customers and potential clients. Data and results are effortlessly recorded and practically always correct therefore businesses can see real time results, which is highly beneficial. One challenge is practical: that they could be funding for online advertisements that consumers don’t see, either because they are shown to robots, or hidden in obscure slots. Follow up studies and checking is vital.

 

As respect is of very high value in the Middle East and people are only just accepting a ‘Western way of life’ cultural differences must be added to the equation. Advertising and marketing occasionally hit brick walls in the Middle East. Journalists and news organisations require being conscious of ongoing privacy considerations, as governments and regulators in the Middle East continue to posses an apprehensive relationship with digital technologies and we must all respect those choices. Companies that gloss over the inter-play between culture and religion ignore a critical factor for success in the Middle East. The Arab market, however, is definitely not totally disconnected from the rest of the world. Consumers here have the same demands as people everywhere, and despite the commotion the region’s markets are developing, internationally entwined and passionately competitive. The potential growth in the Middle Eastern advertising and marketing arena is phenomenal.

There are many businesses pushing boundaries with brands representing fashion houses, for example, and how people are advertising their businesses.

 

As a European model in the Gulf region I have seen changes in the industry in recent years and it has been incredible to be a part of the new media growth. Having grown up in the Gulf and with 10 years of living in Bahrain, I have been fortunate to make friends from all nationalities and faiths. We are all part of a modern Middle East and should embrace an exciting digital future.

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