Short-form content taking MENA digital media landscape by storm

16 August 2021 3 min. read

Short-form video content, in particular on TikTok, is set to drastically change the make-up of the Middle East’s digital media sector, according to a new report by RedSeer.

Following an era of Facebook and Youtube, and more recently the “image phase” in the form of Instagram and SnapChat, the strategic research consultancy experts short-form video content to be “the next big thing.”

Last year, online users increased their time spent on digital media to 80% up from 70% in 2018 – partly a consequence of the pandemic. Presently, this translates into roughly 2 to 2.5 hours spent daily on social media and messaging apps, and 90 minutes looking at short-form content.

MENA Ad Spend and time spend Evolution – 2018 vs 2021

RedSeer’s research highlights that online users in the MENA region have embraced digital media, including short-form content, very rapidly compared to other regions of the world.

Short-form content – as the name suggests – tries to get its message across in less than 1,200 words, or much less even, in the case of TikTok videos. As a result, the content and its format are developed in such a way that it is easily understandable and visually appealing to users. Already, short-form content, and Tiktok videos in particular, accounts for around 15% of the total time spent on social media across the region.

“The exponential speed with which short-form content has taken to this region has been remarkable,” explained Sandeep Ganediwalla, Managing Partner of RedSeer Consulting in the Middle East.

For the advertising industry, short-form content comes with a notable advantage: consumers of short-form videos tend to be bigger online spenders than other digital media content users. RedSeer estimates that this ‘spending gap’ varies anywhere between 40% and 130% depending on the product category.

Online Purchase Annual Spend By User1 Type – MENA2

“This bodes well from a monetization standpoint,” explained Ganediwalla. He added that brands and marketing companies should therefore prepare their short-form content strategies well in advance of blockbuster e-commerce events such as Black Friday and Ramadan, with for instance over 50% of consumers surveyed in the UAE stating that they would use Tiktok to discover new products and services for this year’s Black Friday shopping fest.

Total sales during this year’s Ramadan were up by 20% compared to the year previous, while consumer appetite for e-commerce purchases during Black Friday – an American feast which has expanded globally – has seen steep growth in the region over the past years.

Beyond digital media, a recent report from PwC found that the digital channels – also including media channels such as television, radio, music, podcasts, and video games – will soon account for nearly half of total media & entertainment revenues in the Middle East and North Africa region.