Arabic news portals are increasingly relying on digital marketing channels, now that people refer to these portals for news.
Social media platforms are one of these channels, and are the most used among these portals. Twitter is used by around 88 percent of them, Facebook by almost 80 percent and Youtube by 63 percent, revealed the Digital Media Index report for the first quarter of 2017.
The Digital Media Index had published their first report at the beginning of the year, about digital media in the Arab region in the final quarter of 2016.
The report is sponsored by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, and is in partnership with Ibtikar for developing apps, Digital Research Company for market research, Iclick for consulting and digital media services, and Quant for data analytics services.
According to the report, which studied 672 news portals in 18 Arab countries, sports news is the most published type of content on Arabic portals at 62 percent. It is followed by local news at 59 percent and economic content at 50 percent, whereas tech content is at 28 percent and education at 13 percent.
In the MENA, Gulf countries, with exception of Oman, have the highest average of news portals per person. Bahrain has almost 13 news portal per million population, Kuwait had 12, Qatar around nine, the UAE eight, KSA seven, whereas Oman had around three. The Gulf is followed by Lebanon which has around six portals per million, and Palestine with five.
The Digital Media Index shows that internet penetration in the MENA overpasses the global average which stands at 50 percent: it is at 70 percent in the Gulf (99 percent in the UAE and 70 percent in Saudi Arabia), 76 percent in Lebanon, and 73 percent in Jordan.
Digital media in Saudi Arabia
The report focused on Saudi Arabia more than other countries. It mentioned 241 news portals in the Kingdom and dedicated a complete section to the main digital trends in it.
The report showed that the Kingdom’s 32 million inhabitants, use 57 million smart devices connected to the internet. Which means that internet penetration in Saudi Arabia is at 178 percent.
Active internet users in Saudi Arabia consist of 71 percent of the population (23 million people), and users of social networks represent 59 percent (19 million people) of internet users.
Saudi Arabia witnessed a 20 percent increase in the number of internet users between Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, to reach 85 percent.The report also showed that KSA’s most popular daily newspapers on Facebook are English-speaking ones: Arab News with five million followers, and Saudi Gazette with 1.63 million followers, whereas Arabic 3alyoum (Ain Alyoum) came in the third place with 1.62 followers.
On Twitter, Arabic newspapers get the highest number of followers, including Sabaq with 11.4 followers, and AlRiyadh newspaper with four million followers.
Sports news are also the most published type of content on the Saudi portals (58 percent), along with regional news (58 percent), articles (46 percent), economic content (35 percent) and tech content (22 percent).
Opportunities in news apps
The report shows that the media sector has changed a lot in the last decade, especially that most newspapers and readers are heading towards digital portals. However, keeping up with the technological evolution and keeping up with the competition imposed by the digital economy’s continuous evolution, is an emerging new challenge.
One of the solutions was depending on multiple publishing channels including social media and apps.
While these news portals are increasing their social media channels usage to publish their content, most e-newspapers, don’t consider apps a necessity. Only one third of e-newspapers has actually a relative app.
According to the Digital Media Index, the UAE is where the most news portals depend on social media networks, with an average of four different social media channels per e-newspaper: Twitter leads the list of social media channels that portals rely on in the country (97 percent), whereas Facebook comes second (95 percent), Youtube is third (73 percent), and Instagram is in the fourth place (69 percent).
The UAE is followed by Syria (3.67 social media channels per e-newspaper) and Morocco (3.63). While Saudi Arabia comes in the10th place with 3.26 social media channels per e-newspaper, Lebanon (2.77) and Yemen (2.68) are those where e-newspapers use these channels the least.
Images via Digital Media Index.