ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

In this spe­cial is­sue ded­i­cated to the KSA, Arabad dove deep to learn about the most ex­cit­ing trends and projects tak­ing place in a coun­try that prides it­self on be­ing one of the most, if not the most con­ser­va­tive in the Arab world.

Though one would be tempted to think that in such a highly gen­der-seg­re­gated en­vi­ron­ment change re­mains slow, re­al­ity on the other hand tells a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story.

The slump in crude oil prices has had chal­leng­ing ef­fects on the coun­try’s econ­omy, which in some cases were detri­men­tal. How­ever, KSA’S grow­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion sec­tor con­tin­ues to ex­pand and grow away from the oil-based model. This paradigm shift to­wards pri­vate non-oil com­pa­nies is lead­ing to the ris­ing im­por­tance of the pri­vate sec­tor. As a re­sult, com­pa­nies are re­sort­ing to more com­mu­ni­ca­tion-based mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­mote their busi­nesses within the re­gion.

This slow­down has also af­fected the global econ­omy, es­pe­cially in the GCC, thereby in­tro­duc­ing an ad­di­tional set of chal­lenges to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try. Th­ese en­ti­ties, that were pre­vi­ously hes­i­tant to rely on dig­i­tal me­dia, are re­al­is­ing that they may no longer have that lux­ury.

In­stead of down­siz­ing, com­pa­nies are find­ing more cost ef­fec­tive ways to move busi­nesses ahead. And, with dif­fi­culty in at­tain­ing me­dia busi­ness li­censes for print pub­li­ca­tions, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of projects are be­ing cre­ated on­line. In par­al­lel, on­line news por­tals are emerg­ing and at­tract­ing more ad­ver­tis­ing op­tions for dif­fer­ent busi­ness ver­ti­cals.

On an­other equally-re­lated front, the King­dom is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing growth dif­fi­cul­ties when it comes to re­cruit­ing tal­ent as in­di­cated by a ma­jor­ity of busi­ness lead­ers. How­ever, the lack of tal­ent and the cost of de­vel­op­ing tal­ent is the top rea­son lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions gave to ex­plain why their in­vest­ment plans have stalled.

To com­bat and over­come that ob­sta­cle, some ma­jor multi­na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies with lo­cal branches in the coun­try are tak­ing the lead when it comes to re­cruit­ing lo­cal fe­males grad­u­ates to the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try so as to gain more in­sight into the mar­ket.

Ev­i­dence to that ef­fect is a study re­cently con­ducted by the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion at King Faisal Univer­sity, stat­ing that the high­est per­cent­age of peo­ple af­fected by ad­ver­tis­ing are women (64 per­cent).

Cap­i­tal­is­ing on that trend, dig­i­tal au­to­mo­tive ad­ver­tis­ing is on the rise with some sites reg­is­ter­ing an in­crease in on­line vis­its by more than 50 per­cent, not­ing that 60-70 per­cent of con­sumers spend 10 or more hours on­line re­search­ing their next car pur­chase.

An­other in­dus­try, which pre­vi­ously did not even make the cut when it comes to me­dia con­sump­tion, is the cinema sec­tor. The Saudi Ara­bia Pro­duc­ers and Dis­trib­u­tors As­so­ci­a­tion has con­firmed that the King­dom will soon build a num­ber of the­atres. This presents a huge op­por­tu­nity for ad­ver­tis­ers and opens the door to a new rev­enue por­tal.

Cou­pled with the seven per­cent in­crease in pas­sen­gers vis­it­ing the coun­try, KSA is clearly tak­ing big steps and mak­ing great strides to­ward the fu­ture.

What fol­lows, in this spe­cial sec­tion on all things Saudi, Arabad takes a deeper look into the chal­lenges fac­ing the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­try with a num­ber of ex­clu­sive in­ter­views, thought pieces and other equally rel­e­vant in­sights about what mat­ters most.

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