MediaCom’s Toby Ruddock On Cautious Outlook & Game Changing Future

Toby Ruddock, MediaCom
Toby Ruddock, MediaCom

Given the current economic and political environment in Middle East and North Africa, the advertising industry is likely to have a fairly cautious view of the next 12-18 months. Some markets will exceed the average but for the MENA region, it would be sensible to work on a par basis. According to MediaCom MENA’s Regional Head of Strategy, Toby Ruddock, in many ways this is good news for established marketers. In a conversation with Arabian Marketer, Mr Ruddock shares his views on the outlook for 2015, and the key challenges and opportunities that the business would face.

On a cautious outlook for 2015…
The value of marketing investment shouldn’t be eroded by inflation to too great a degree. The relatively low entry cost into the market and a stable outlook will encourage new entrants which will be good for consumers but will inevitably create longer term fiscal pressures for advertisers. Now is definitely the time to be bold and establish a strong platform for the future.

On the lag between consumer behavior and digital ad spends…
I am happy to say that many of our clients have placed digital at the heart of their communications strategies. This has been based on the business case on improved performance for brands. There is often the notion that somehow its ‘digital’ or ‘traditional’, however we believe that brands best benefit from a systems-based approach to communications planning. This means that we recognize communication touch points as an ecosystem not a series of silos, and we optimize this system to the best effect for our clients’ brands. The idea of digital as disruptive therefore becomes mute as best results will be dependent on utilizing the entire ecosystem to best effect, rather than relying on individual channels to produce an over proportionate response from consumers.

On the role of technology led media companies to encourage marketers to up digital spends…
The key for all successful media investments is a clear understanding of the benefit they bring to the bottom line. We start any strategic approach by focusing on the sources of growth for our clients’ brands and then demonstrating, in measurable ways, the impact of advertising investments on share or volume growth. The digital space in many ways is particularly accountable, however this is balanced by a perceived lack of visibility and impact, so the key players in the digital space need to continually invest in research, modelling and analytics integration in order to push the boundaries of what is possible in the accountancy space. Layered over this, is the ongoing requirement to ensure this information is disseminated in a manner that is both relevant to the end user, across categories, and translatable for less digitally savvy stakeholders such as procurement officers.

On growth drivers or game changers for the marketing industry in 2015…
I will focus on three of the many. Firstly, programmatic buying and the application of data and information systems to strategic communications development and campaign execution is without a doubt a game changer for our industry.
Digital platforms, and in particular the use of mobile to reach consumers in new ways, are a massive challenge for marketers and agencies as we continue to grapple with the reality of consumer attention shifting to this most personal of media devices.
Finally, the role of traditional advertising formats versus content based strategies is also bringing new possibilities as advertisers are shaken out of their complacency and come face to face with the collision of media platforms, consumer engagement models and the relevance of brand communications.

This article was published in The Arabian Marketer February print issue.
To get your own copy, please email to

Add Comment