MENA spending on social media advertising is on the up

23 March 2021 2 min. read

By the end of 2021, social media could account for a third of the total digital media advertising spend in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This is according to a new market breakdown from RedSeer Consulting.

The backdrop is a boom in digital advertising, which had advanced to 70% of the total MENA ad spend in 2020 – rapidly edging out traditional channels such as TV, print, etc. The shift is a direct product of market trends, which took on a distinct character last year.

An ecommerce boom grabbed centre stage in 2020, driven by lockdowns, infection risks and a growing familiarity with digital channels. What started out as a necessity-driven shift soon became a preference for online and omnichannel offerings – as consumers grasped the versatility and convenience of the online world.

The rise of digital advertising

“75% of consumers are now starting their pre-purchase journey online, with brand platforms, social media and online searches being the go-to channels,” noted Sandeep Ganediwala, Dubai-based partner at RedSeer Consulting. With such clear consumer patterns coming to light, the digital piece of the ad spending pie will likely only grow in the near future.

Rise of social media

Another key finding of the research is that social media is carving out a sizeable space for itself – not only as a sub-segment of digital advertising, but also as a segment of the total advertising spend in MENA. In 2019, just over a quarter of the total ad budget went to social media channels – primarily YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Last year, social media occupied 30% of the budget, topped off with the emergence of newer channels such as TikTok. Based on this momentum, the researchers predict that social media will draw nearly a third of the total MENA ad spend by the end of this year – putting it ahead of non-digital ads. Other digital avenues will retain their near 40% stronghold.

Social media is on the charge

According to Ganediwala – who spoke to Arabian Business – the rise of social media advertising boils down to low cost and easy access. “Social media has democratized advertising. While large corporates are leveraging this medium wholeheartedly, a big driver for growth has been small and medium enterprises.”

As mentioned, social media acts as a first point of contact with brands for 75% of consumers. And the role of these platforms in the commercial lifecycle is only growing – beyond a traditional facilitating avatar to a trusted portal where consumers can complete an entire purchase.

Via their social apps, consumers can discover a product; chat with a seller; confirm an order; coordinate their delivery and even provide feedback after the purchase. In short, social media will become a commercial avenue in itself – like a store, or an ecommerce portal – which will likely drive its share of the total advertising spend further up in the near future.