Rays of light amidst the storm

By Fahed Moubarak, Business Director KSA, DMS
2min read

When the weather becomes unsettling, lighthouses shine bright to alert travellers and navigate them safely to shore. For the media industry, the storm has yet to subside, but rays of light are piercing through to offer numerous indications about where the digital media landscape is headed, the challenges brands are facing and the opportunities that await them in the MENA region in general, and in KSA in particular.

Behaviour shifts are no longer a surprise

Covid-19 has changed people’s lives in many ways, affecting how they work, learn, behave and communicate. The same can be said for their media consumption, which has skyrocketed in alignment with their newly adapted lifestyle changes. This in turn has prompted marketers and media publishers to embark on a new quest to reach their consumers.

While some storms can be disruptive, the current one withholds lots of potential for clearing-up the inherent chaos in the media industry, especially within the KSA digital scene. Today, we can raise a little above the storm and view the opportunities that lie ahead, mainly when it comes to the upswing being witnessed in video and e-commerce.

To renew or not to renew my VOD subscription? That is the question

Lately, the media and entertainment industries have been thriving in the digital space. This is due not only to the growing penetration of mobile devices and internet connectivity but also to Covid-19 and the multiple lockdowns affecting the kingdom. Local reports indicate that users shifted from AVOD to subscription-based models. And then the rebound-smart subscriber made a special appearance. With consumers increasingly considering VOD subscriptions as switchable, the competition between streaming platforms went up to an all-time high. Local reports also estimate that a total of 74 per cent of VOD subscribers mainly watch new series. With content now available across multiple platforms, only a few are willing and able to spend across all of them. As subscribers will eventually need to make a choice, content aggregators are now being pushed to unlock new customer acquisition strategies, and chiefly collaborations to appeal to different viewers personas. This is taking shape in parallel to users’ consumption behaviour transitioning from solo to co-viewing behind the same screen.

Marketers are therefore invited to invest in a deeper understanding of the co-viewing habit, and how the overlaps and migrations between streaming platforms reflect the shift in viewers’ behaviour. Content providers and platforms must take this trend into consideration and work together to guarantee a successful growth strategy for the long run. The question here is: for how long?

Despite in-home media consumption surging during the pandemic, we cannot help but wonder if these viewing habits will last. This also holds true for the challenges video advertisers in KSA will face as they seek to optimise their media buys. Research shows that the pandemic will continue to affect regional video expenditure, even when consumer behaviours vary by audience, media and category.

Video facilitates the new lifestyle

The pandemic has changed how we consume video. Creative context now takes centre stage. When we look at smaller budgets in KSA, for example, online video is looked upon as the cherry on top, as it ensures differentiation. We are seeing advertisers accelerating their adoption of the latest media channels, while content creators are shifting their efforts towards platforms that provide them with the best monetary value. Across channels, customers can view different types of high-quality videos to keep them up to date and connect to brands.

E-commerce manifestation has made it easier than ever to say “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it”

Covid-19 injected a big dose of adrenaline into the growth of e-commerce in KSA. Customers’ willingness to shop online has increased, owing largely to the convenience of shopping online, as well as its social distancing benefits. Over 32 per cent of people are now making purchases online across categories that they did not previously consider, according to our research.

Despite presenting a great challenge for retailers and traditional search engines in reaching customers at different touchpoints, there exists an even bigger opportunity if we are to take a closer look.

To achieve an efficient, omnichannel media presence that will influence consumers at all stages of the purchasing journey, brands gain the opportunity to learn how to juggle between communicating their purpose, stretch beyond sales and connect with customers at a deeper level, on the issues that matter. Brands can also use relevant data to activate customers across all touchpoints with both social and retail media that will help them to drive awareness and consideration while ensuring that online conversion is taking place. This will guarantee returns on their infrastructure and shift investment.

You can only improve what you can measure

As consumers in the kingdom re-evaluate their purchasing behaviour, brands need to adapt their strategies to deliver results within smaller budgets. This will lead to significant growth in the use of analytics to drive optimal investments. With the quality of content serving as a top priority, the focus on corporate sponsorships, experiential events and philanthropic efforts will help to generate earned media opportunities to reach even more consumers.

For media professionals to achieve these results, access to broader data sets that allow for better decision-making and opportunity recognition becomes imperative. Building on the idea of data democratisation, data platforms must become open-source, enabling brands to own integrations with multiple programmatic partner platforms, to ensure optimal funnel conversion.

Like all forms of adversity, storms don’t last forever. In KSA, marketers and media owners that are embracing and leveraging the fast-moving digital media scene and selecting the right tools have found the ultimate recipe for success. They are delivering better overall customer experiences, meeting KPIs and guiding all of us users smoothly to the shores that lie ahead of us after the storm.