x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Publications for tablets hold promise in Gulf region

Senior ad executive said that there would be demand for iPad-only publications in the Arab world.

A journalist looks at the front page of The Daily, an electronic newspaper designed for the iPad, after its launch was announced at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda
A journalist looks at the front page of The Daily, an electronic newspaper designed for the iPad, after its launch was announced at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda

Publications designed for tablet devices such as the iPad would be a hit with advertisers in the Arab world, senior industry executives say.

Dani Richa, the group president for the Mena region at the advertising agency Impact BBDO, said regional versions of online publications such as The Daily, which was launched last week by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, would be popular with local advertisers.

Annual subscriptions for The Daily, which is described as a newspaper, cost US$39.99 (Dh146.88) while weekly subscriptions cost 99 cents. It boasts multimedia features including video and 360-degree photographs.

There are no major iPad-only publications in the Arab world but Mr Richa said advertisers would find them an attractive medium.

"There is [demand from advertisers], definitely," he said. "I think it's only a matter of time [before] we have similar things happening in the Arabic language, and I'm all for it.

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"If you look at the penetration and the sales of the iPad and the tablets in this part of the world, they are growing really fast."

Tablet devices had the potential to "create connections with your brand and the consumer that were never [there] before," Mr Richa added.

"The smart brands and the smart advertisers would be there first because there is almost as much message in being there as in the message that communication would carry."

Rayan Karaky, the Mena region general manager for digital operations at the communications network Publicis Groupe Media, said larger screens mean tablet devices are "the next big thing" for mobile advertising.

"The fact that these devices are available now gives mobile a lot more potential than it used to have," Mr Karaky said.

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Games and news applications are likely to be the most popular on such devices, he said, but tablet versions of existing magazines "are very easy to navigate through".

"As an advertiser, you can be very selective in which environment you advertise in," Mr Karaky said.

But he warned "it is a bit too early to say" whether magazines created specifically for tablet devices, such as The Daily, would take off in the Middle East market.

Dr Matt Duffy, an assistant professor at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi who specialises in new media and journalism, said tablet-only publications could be sustainable in this region if the funding and audience was there.

"The Mena region isn't well known for being ahead of the technology curve … if a similar product is launched in this region would there be enough iPads to support it?" Dr Duffy asked.

"There are players in the Middle East with pockets as deep as Murdoch's - so an all-digital publication could be launched and kept afloat for years.

"Would advertisers flock to it? The answer is simple: if such a daily publication attracted tens of thousands of readers, then advertisers would be eager to buy space on its digital pages."

Mr Murdoch reportedly said at the launch event for The Daily that the decision to charge for the application would help "draw a better class of advertiser and a better rate".

The project reportedly cost $30 million to develop and will operate at a cost of $500,000 a week.

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae