Managing Director of UM Qatar, lays out the key points for addressing the requirements of Qatar’s communication with special focus on
How much has advertising really changed over the years?
Totally, to the point where it is now a radically different industry with a completely different approach to that of say thirty years ago, when today’s senior practitioners started working in agencies. We have moved from an analogue, broadcast medium approach, where we used campaigns to target large segments of the population, to a digital inbound content marketing approach, always on, always connected, where we can target and retarget individual consumers based on their own very personal profile. That’s why we shouldn’t really call the business “Advertising” any more. “Storytelling’ is a much better description of what we do today.
How has the profile of your agency changed?
UM was launched in 1999 by Mccann Worldgroup as its worldwide media buying arm, operating as a separate yet interdependent unit. Nowadays, we still buy media for our clients but the innovation, art and science involved is much more complex. We plan using “Moments”, which is about how we use all the incredible data we have, to discover the time, the place and the emotion to make the right connection with the consumer. It’s not just about the “Moments” themselves, but also making sure we have the right stories at those moments, using the right content marketing strategies. We need a vastly different breed of media planner in this context; because we need to ensure that our planners understand data and technology but also have the empathy to ensure that we don’t lose sight of one key fact – even with all this data, it’s still people talking to people about brands.
How has the local market been affected?
We are seeing how the print medium is beginning to lose readership and relevance to consumers in Qatar, as mobile has become their principal device for accessing information, connecting and engaging. This is a very positive trend because nobody needs to use paper necessitating that newspapers and magazines here in Doha re-evaluate their business model, just as publishers all over the world have done. This requires agencies to be able to “always” deliver, 24/7 on, ready for omnichannel connected content solutions. This also means that smaller agencies without the adequate resources will find it increasingly difficult to compete.
What are some of the challenges you're facing on a daily basis, which are specific to the Qatari market ?
The talent crunch is indeed the largest challenge, but not unique to Qatar as more millennials are attracted to working at GAFAM than at media agencies. Within that global talent crunch for media agencies, we face additional problems such as securing visas for non-western European talent and making Doha an attractive destination for those who are considering the Middle East. However, our capabilities as an agency in Qatar are on par with those in other countries in the region, with a dedicated UM team of 20 people here in Qatar now and growing next year, especially in areas such as social media and content marketing.
We plan using “Moments” to discover the time, the place and the emotion to make the right connection with the consumer.