Do you close your ears during Ramadan?

Do you close your ears during Ramadan?

The Holy Month is a unique period of the year. From a societal standpoint, it is a period of spirituality, tradition, and faith. Lifestyle behaviors shift as people value more time with their relatives and reflect on matters of the heart and mind. From a media standpoint, this is reflected by constant shifts in moments and mindsets. In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, consumers’ interests are centered around gathering, preparation, and spiritual immersion. During the holy month, their routines continue to revolve around spiritual aspects yet are coupled with entertainment and personal care. Lastly, towards Eid, consumers’ attention shifts towards celebration and vacation. Brands who tap into these moments are those who will be able to engage with their audiences, defining the level of connection through the right medium, channel, and format.

Following two years of limited physical interaction and with multiple players setting foot in the region, the penetration of audio streaming platforms today is at an all-time high, particularly in the GCC, where penetration has reached 59% in KSA and 70% in UAE according to Ipsos. Gen Z and Millennials have adopted audio streaming to increase their cultural awareness and form new connections. WARC and CG’s research on Leveraging Digital Audio for Marketers in MENA in 2022 supports this with findings showing that 43% of Gen Z and 62% of Millennials searched for more diverse music content and podcast creators. Audio is no longer an afterthought and, through the unique engagement that music and podcasts provide, it is set to compliment Ramadan’s media traditions.

Music is an integral part of the daily life… even during Ramadan

The same question pops up every year: is Ramadan a music moment? Digging into the data of Anghami, the region’s leading music streaming platform, we found that the number of monthly active users remains the same, with no change in the average time spent per day (58min is the yearly average). Smart and personalized audio streaming technologies have made music more accessible and personalized than ever. Users can multitask and listen anytime, anywhere, choosing music that fits their Ramadan mindset from a wide selection of titles and genres. For example, in the GCC, 65% of females spend the day cooking by listening to cooking music content from 1pm until 7pm (450,000+ streams). Others workout even when fasting and consume fitness content from 5pm to 7pm and from 11pm to 1 am (1.8M+ streams). And some use music to nurture their spirituality. When Anghami launched a Ramadan mode to offer a spiritual experience, it was enabled by over 900K users. Other moments are also clearly identified by music during that month, like personal care routines, shopping, housework...

Those music moments gave brands a relevant space to connect with their audiences in real-time, with audio ads proving to be a captivating format for attention and to trigger conversions. Last year, Anghami’s audio ads benchmarked an uplift of 64% in Ad recall with a CTR of 0.8%. Footfall attribution was also measured for an automotive brand, where audio ads uplifted by 14.5% the number of visits to the showroom. Audio has the power to transport users to different times and places, makes cooking more educational, workouts more fun, and good deeds more inspirational.

Music is also an enabler of conversations. In Ramadan 2020, Pepsi wanted to bring Saudis together during the onset of the pandemic. By collaborating with local independent artists on an Anghami original, they offered the audience a mood boosting piece that made them discover new talented artists who speak their own language. The song was top charted in KSA, saw 96,000+ interactions from the users, and increased brand love by 45%. The artists and song also became overarching components of Pepsi’s social media activations on IG.

Localized podcasts are in demand and with positive advertising perceptions

During Campaign ME’s Breakfast, Ipsos declared that podcast consumption will increase by 6% during Ramadan. Podcasts are the new kids on the block of content and according to research conducted by Rising Giants Network in KSA in 2021, 30% of respondents listen to podcasts on a daily basis and 22% listen to podcasts three times per week. Research by Amaeya Media on the state of podcasts in MENA also found that 65% of respondents think podcasts are equally if not more credible than the traditional mediums of radio, TV and newspaper.

As for advertisers, podcasts are a unique way for them to associate themselves with topics that matter while connecting with highly engaged audiences for a long duration. Tapestry, an independent research company, found that podcast advertising offers the highest levels of attention among media channels, with 65% of listeners paying attention to podcast ads compared to TV ads (39%) and radio ads (38%).

Arabs are developing an affinity towards local shows, and Arabic is their preferred language for podcast consumption. They want to consume content that resonates with them and their culture, and this holds particularly true during Ramadan when localization is more important than ever. Today, we roughly have more than 1000 localized shows. It is yet to be propelled. As creators and platforms gear up to answer to the increasing demand, podcasting brings massive opportunities to advertisers who are quick to jump on board.  With several topics still untapped locally, the space is theirs to be leveraged this Ramadan, from both content creation and association standpoints.

In summary, with the ease of access of audio streaming, music and podcast are integral parts of Ramadan. Audio platforms’ breadth of data allow to identify moods, moments, and mindsets that advertisers can leverage to connect deeply with their audiences during this key moment of the year. The truth is you can never switch off your ears… even during Ramadan.