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Online ad associations click with the Middle East

  |  September 6, 2012

Anna Bager, vice president and general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's mobile marketing arm, speaks at the Mobile Media Forum in Dubai. Photo: Charles Crowell for The National
Charles Crowell/Arabian Pixtures
Anna Bager, vice president and general manager of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's mobile marketing arm, speaks at the Mobile Media Forum in Dubai. Photo: Charles Crowell for The National

Two trade associations specialising in digital advertising say they are interested in boosting their activities in the Middle East.

Online media attracted just 4 per cent of the Arab world’s $4.7 billion advertising spending in 2011, according to the Arab Media Outlook.

However, internet advertising is the fastest growing of all mediums, and is forecast to account for 10 per cent of the total ad market by 2015.

As the industry grows, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), which covers smartphone advertising, says it is boosting its activities here. The US-based Interactive Advertising Bureau, meanwhile, says the Middle East has been discussed as part of an international expansion drive.

The MMA’s Middle East operation was “soft launched” late last year, but says it plans to ramp up activities this October.

Amjad Al Qassimi, the regional manager for MMA Middle East, said it has already signed up 20 members in the Middle East, including du, Havas Digital and Clique Media.

MMA Middle East has a base in Dubai and plans to hold four events a year to help promote mobile advertising.

“Our role is to make mobile marketing an indispensable part of the marketing mix,” said Mr Al Qassimi.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is also considering launching an operation in the Middle East. The association lobbies on behalf of its members, and has a code of conduct for the online advertising industry.

Anna Bager, the vice president and general manager of the IAB’s mobile marketing arm, said the organisation was expanding internationally.

“We are always looking at expanding into new markets. And this is a very interesting market,” she said.

Ms Bager said the IAB has examined opening an office in the Middle East, but could not confirm any other plans at present.

“Eventually I’m pretty sure we’ll open something here. The whole area is booming,” she said. “There is no concrete plan at this moment, but we’ve talked about it.”

The executives were speaking on the sidelines of the 5th Bar Mobile Marketing Forum in Dubai.

Karim Khalifa, the chief executive of the ad agency Digital Republic, and co-chair of MMA Middle East, said mobile advertising was an “extremely fast-growing” medium.

He estimates that the mobile-advertising market is worth between $10 million and $15 million in the Middle East and North Africa - just a fraction of the total ad industry.

However, this is growing by “double-digit” percentages, said Mr Khalifa.

“Because it’s small, the jumps are big,” he said. “So I would say that it’s at least a 50 per cent increase since last year in Egypt. [In Dubai], I would guess it’s the same level of growth, if not higher,” he said.