The opening of the Internet in the Middle East in the 1990s proved underwhelming to many. Low PC penetration, high access costs and limited Arabic content were among the factors put forward by naysayers to explain their lack of involvement in this emerging digital economy. In the meantime, a quiet revolution took place, not only Internet penetration and consumption rose, often to match international levels, but new technologies saw a rapid adoption, such as mobile devices.
This is the result of a massive investment in telecom infrastructure in several Middle Eastern countries. Not all countries have invested equally though and taking affluence and education levels into account explains how diverse the region actually is in terms of digital adoption. Nonetheless, there has been a significant positive evolution and the naysayers are increasingly being turned around.
Thanks to the growing sophistication in the availability and consumption of digital media content, through an increasingly rich array of devices that access the Internet over broadband lines and networks, marketing investments in the digital landscape are reaching international proportions. Few would have deemed it possible only a few years ago. Not only are brands increasingly active, their media approach is maturing too, using modern and sophisticated solutions to impress consumers.
This is a wise move as connected consumers are building the Internet into their lives and their media habits in such a way that brands need to adapt as well. In terms of both quantity and quality, digital platforms are playing such a significant role in consumers’ lives that it simply can’t be ignored. The rise of e-commerce is only one of the expressions of this trend.
To study the digital environment across the Middle East, Omnicom Media Group MENA developed a proprietary study, C.Web, in 2008. Over time, it has not only tracked the evolution of consumers’ adoption of digital platforms but also grown its footprint to cover most the MENA’s markets. This white paper documents this evolution and identifies the implications for marketers.