What's holding MENA's digital media market back? [Podcast]

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This podcast has been crossposted from Wamda Capital.

Digital media is a growing market, but the amount of education still required for brands - those who invest in the content creators - is holding the Middle Eastern industry back.

Wamda Capital’s latest podcast featured Publicis Media chief strategy officer Ali Nehme, Kharabeesh chief growth officer Elias Mouawad, Vinelab managing director Abed Agha, and Youtube head of MENA partnerships, Diana Baddar.

The conversation was less about how to become a Youtube star or use the various platforms, such as Vine and Instagram, to market or publish content, but more about the fundamentals of the industry.

The key thread in the conversation was education and awareness among companies that invest in digital content, and how to bring them along with the fast-moving netizens who already understand the benefits.

Quantifying that value for brands is one of the main issues.

While Mouawad praised Youtube’s transparency with sharing data and the range of the analytics provided, he, as did all the members in the podcast, repeatedly stated that there was still no good metric to evaluate a brand’s return on investment (RoI) or association with a particular content creator.

The lack of a good RoI metric made it harder to talk brands into making the investment.

The shift from print to digital is finally happening in
MENA, and the biggest battleground is now
between digital and television. (Image via Apertura)

Nehme said while the market was growing, thanks to the shift from print to digital media, it wasn’t growing as fast as they’d like. This was because of the amount of education required to convince a keen, but nervous, company to invest in a particular individual whose content aligned well with their brand.

But he also said it would only take a year for skittish brands to be turned around and for a stronger digital media market to appear.

The time it takes to create content for a number of different digital media platforms - Facebook, Snapchat and the rest - is also confusing for companies.

Baddar’s advice was to pick and choose not only what kind of campaign and content they want to make, so it was optimised for the platform, but also which creator they used. One may be very good at creating videos or stories for Facebook, but not so much for Instagram.

Mouawad said they were slowly changing the way companies worked with content creators, to be more of a relationship of trust rather than the former stipulating a particular method and style to the latter.

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