Advertising spending on websites, television and radio advertising is forecast to increase across the Middle East by as much as 20 per cent.
Advertising revenue set for year of growth in MENA
Spending on websites, television and radio advertising is forecast to increase across the region, although gains in the UAE are tipped to be lower than elsewhere.
"Regionally I think we'll see 18 to 20 per cent growth," said Avi Bhojani, the group chief executive of the marketing and communications agency BPG Group.
Mr Bhojani said that while the "opening up of government initiatives" was likely to cause an increase in advertising spending in the UAE, gains in this market were likely to be lower.
"I'd put my expectation at 14 to 15 per cent growth on 2010 in the UAE - I'm seeing that trend. Consumer confidence is increasing; investor confidence is increasing," he said.
Elie Aoun, the managing director for the MENA region at Ipsos MediaCT, which tracks advertising spending, said he also expected revenues in the region to grow this year.
"I think overall . we will be having double-digit growth. If you look around, I think we are witnessing most of the industries recovering, with the exception perhaps of the UAE real estate sector," Mr Aoun said.
"I think it will keep the same trend as 2010. TV will grow a little bit, and online will grow. I expect radio will see a big boom, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia."
Mr Aoun added that while some growth was expected in website advertising, this would remain a tiny part of the market.
"I think we will be witnessing a big growth in digital, but it will remain insignificant compared to other media," he said. "It's currently 3 per cent of total [advertising] revenues in the region. I think it will be 4 per cent maximum in 2011."
According to the Pan Arab Research Centre, in the first 11 months of last year, there were double-digit increases in GCC and pan-Arab advertising spending. But there was a 2.7 per cent decline over the same period in the UAE, said the research firm.
While most commentators point to gains in the region, some were less optimistic about advertising growth this year.
"I think we are certainly looking at a better 2011 than 2010," said Mohan Nambiar, the MENA chief executive of the media planning agency MEC. "We are certainly looking at upward spend, but I don't expect double-digit growth."
Elie Haber, the managing director of the media planning agency Mindshare in the UAE, said there could even be a decline in spending this year. The change in advertising spending in the MENA region this year would be "similar to 2010 - plus or minus 3 per cent to 5 per cent".
Media operators say they are optimistic about this year. Mazen Hayek, the spokesman and group director of PR and commercial at the free-to-air TV operator MBC Group, said the company recorded "two-digit growth" in advertising revenue last year.
"We're looking [at this year] in an optimistic way. It looks even better than 2010 did at the same time," said Mr Hayek.
"It is too early to predict the percentage or amount of growth. We see growth - but at the same time, costs are increasing."