As Iraq recovers from political turmoil, economic growth is expected to accelerate notably in 2018. This comes due to higher oil prices and the peace dividend stemming from the near-annihilation of ISIL in Iraq. However, sectarian tensions are resurfacing ahead of the May elections, and large economic imbalances will prevent a sharp steady recovery. Yet the slow recovery has been sufficient to cause an increase in advertising spending across the entire market. The rise was reported at 25% higher than the previous year, most notably across TV and outdoor (25% and 30% increases respectively) a benefit attributed to the liberation of ISIL territories, leading to extended accessibility for more viewers. Radio has shown a 57% decrease, as opposed to the growth in TV, in addition to more brands venturing into the online digital space. A detailed look into the Iraqi market showcases a dynamic pattern, with several new entries appearing on the top 10 advertising brand list, particularly among the consumer packaged goods category, a testament to a market that is determined to push for more recovery and claim the newly created white spaces among the various media outlets. Yet, the telecoms sector continues to dominate as the highest spending sector, with heavy spend, Zain and Asiacell both lead as top brands. Meanwhile, a behind-thescenes look at the Iraqi market shows a complete rank reshuffle among the bottom media agencies as Carat, OMD, Focus, Optimedia, and Aurum all came in as new entrants, while the top five continue to consolidate their grip on the Iraqi market in its period of growth. As for the future, 2018 appears to have the right foundation to present even further growth within the market. Nevertheless, the May elections coinciding with the start of Ramadan – the MENA’S advertising Super Bowl – will surely cause an even higher increase in advertising. After a long dormancy it will be interesting to see how far advertising can go, and most importantly how media agencies will react to the new challenge of an expected advertising jungle.
Mohammad Abdelkarim Senior Research Executive Head of ASI ASI Connect