Recap 2015: MENA’s Biggest Digital Trends

Digital Trends 2015

As the year 2015 comes to an end, it is the season for listing down some of the key trends that were seen in the marketing and advertising industry in the Middle East and North Africa region. Undoubtedly, the year 2015 is being considered as the year of digital disruption. We list all that contributed to this and what were the biggest digital trends in 2015.

#1. Programmatic: Experts in the advertising industry in Middle East stated that the major breakthrough or what could be called, as a key buzzword was programmatic. Calling it the year of programmatic, they say that programmatic is estimated to triple digital ad spends by 2017 with marketers now looking at outdoor programmatic along with video programmatic.

#2. Smartphone Usage: One of the biggest digital trends witnessed this year was the upward graph of smartphone usage in Middle East and Africa. According to a report by eMarketer, the usage is climbing more rapidly with smartphone population in MEA estimated to pass 106 million.

#3. Videos: The tech-savvy Arab consumer is spending more and more time on the internet and consuming content more and more visually. MENA users upload around 2 hours of video every minute on YouTube. The extent of the region’s engagement with YouTube was reported earlier in the year when the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government reported the same statistic whilst also noting that: “In the Arab region, 285 million videos are viewed every day…putting it in the number 2 spot for video views in the world.”  Consistent with many of these trends, much of this consumption is through mobile devices, with 50 percent of YouTube views in KSA, and 40 percent in UAE all via mobile.

#5. Ecommerce: The world of internet shopping in the Middle East is booming for the last couple of years and 2015 was no different. Looking at the trends of e-commerce, experts have predicted nearly 40 per cent growth in e-commerce in the GCC region with ecommerce sales across GCC countries expected to touch USD 41.5 billion by 2020.

#6. I-commerce: Another term that did the rounds this year was i-commerce. Brands used different social media platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp to reach out and communicate with their consumers, thereby popularizing the term i-commerce.

#7. Wearables: Another revolution that has already begun in the digital space is that of wearable technologies. According to a Juniper Research study, wearables such as smart watches and fitness bands will drive the growth of the market to an estimated USD 19 billion in retail revenue by 2018.

#8. Digital Wallets: A highly anticipated trend for this year’s savvy consumer is the digital wallets. Making life simpler for marketers and consumers alike, Apple Pay brought the activation in the Middle East market along with several local version of digital wallet payment taking shape. Hence, bidding farewell to checking for “wallet, phone, keys.”

#9. Generation BOLD: J. Walter Thompson MENA released its Generation BOLD deep dive featuring original analysis and key insights into the untapped yet tenacious Arab demographic of today’s 50+ age group, who are looking to have their needs met, with the spending power to match. Brands seem to be ignoring the older generation and focusing mainly on the large population of youth while reports indicate that the older generation’s interest in Facebook has increased by 41 per cent for individuals between the age of 35 and 54, and 80 per cent between the age of 55 and 80.


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