x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Advertising screens may soon light up at a mall near you

Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, Abu Dhabi's Khalidiyah Mall and Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain could be set to go digital as signage company Al Barq confirms it's in discussions to install advertising screens.

The sign company Al Barq Digital is in talks about installing advertising screens in three UAE malls and plans to expand its operations into Saudi Arabia.

The company operates 32 "digital media units" on which it plans to sell advertising, and "kiosks" with interactive touchscreen maps at the Dubai Festival City mall.

It is close to an agreement with malls in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in part of a plan to install 300 screens in regional venues such as shopping malls and transport centres by the first quarter of next year.

Al Barq is owned by Abu Dhabi Media Digital Out Of Home (AD Media DOOH), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media Company, which also owns and publishes The National.

"We're in final discussions with Ibn Battuta Mall, Khalidiya Mall and Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain," said Andrew Wood, the general manager of Al Barq Digital. This week it was announced the company had signed a two-year agreement with the specialist company Whatamap, based in Finland, to provide maps of malls and transport centres on mobile phones. The company plans to sell the rights to distribute promotional vouchers over the kiosks and mobile maps.

If the deals with the three malls go ahead, Mr Wood said Al Barq would "install our digital media units, kiosks and mapping solutions" in the new locations.

Al Barq is also expanding into Saudi Arabia. "We're looking at various partners …" he said, adding the company would look to install similar advertising screens in malls there.

The company plans to sell advertising on larger outdoor digital screens, as well as through Bluetooth mobile phone technology.

According to a report by the research company PQ Media, the "digital out of home" advertising sector globally is expected to grow by 10.1 per cent a year until 2014.

Al Barq says it will encourage more research and measurement to help boost the market in the Middle East. The company is in discussions with the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) Europe - the independent representative body of the "digital out of home" industry - over creating a branch of the organisation to serve the MENA region.

"I have agreement from the OVAB board that we will assist them in setting up a chapter in the Middle East … we'd like to do that quickly," said Mr Wood.

"[OVAB] has a proven heritage in understanding our marketplace … it encourages discussion and best practice."