Most MENA consumers use social media and mobile for news

15 April 2024 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read
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Most consumers of news in the MENA region are going digital. A total of 68% of MENA consumers now use social media as their main news source, according to a study from Strategy& conducted in collaboration with Google News.

With the newspaper becoming increasingly irrelevant and digitalization reaching new heights, internet users in the Middle East and North Africa are most likely than ever to prefer social media over traditional media. MENA print media advertising revenue is expected to fall by 11.3% by 2027.

“Digital news has replaced print across the region,” said Karim Daou, partner at Strategy& and lead author of the report.

Most MENA consumers use social media and mobile for news

Over 90% of the consumers surveyed by the report identified mobile as their top device for accessing news. In terms of news formats, 66% of respondents named mobile video as their favorite. Short-form articles were also popular, enjoyed by 58% of respondents.

The UAE was ahead of Saudi Arabia and Egypt as far as how many respondents preferred social media over television and news websites. A majority of respondents in all three countries also said they preferred video news over short written news.

Considering these consumer preferences, newspapers and magazines face difficult challenges going forward. Despite the increasingly digital landscape for news in the MENA region, many companies are still constrained by a print-first mentality.

Some major regional publications have, however, already begun to diversify their offerings, moving towards new content products like digital platforms, podcasts, videos, and research reports, as well as launching other businesses, such as media training and events.

Most MENA consumers use social media and mobile for news

A particular problem in the MENA media landscape is the lack of information on news consumption and preferences, trust in news, news industry-specific economic indicators, advertising and consumer revenues, and financials.

This scarcity of news industry data also makes it harder for governments to understand the changing news landscape and design policy to address shortcomings and guarantee citizens’ right to access accurate and balanced information.

“The region’s governments can help ensure the future of the news media industry by reevaluating the regulatory framework through a consultative, evidence-based approach that considers the industry’s input,” said Daoud.

“It is crucial to establish a level playing field that encompasses transparent and digital-ready content policies and regulations along with a risk-based approach to regulatory interventions.”

Opportunities?

The rapidly changing media industry in the region is creating challenges, but also new avenues for growth. MENA news organizations need to look towards digital transformation and sustainable business models, said Strategy& and Google News.

Smart phone use has become ubiquitous in the Middle East, and some young people are quick to note that it can be unhealthy. A previous study found that around three quarters of Arab young people surveyed reported being aware that social media can be addictive and that overuse can have negative impact on their mental health.