Programmatic Advertising is Making Big Waves in the Middle East

Programmatic Advertising is Making Big Waves in the Middle East

Advertisers in the Middle East are mastering programmatic advertising and are reinventing the art of storytelling to create memorable brand experiences.

In 2017, when Audi was about to launch its customisable vehicle, the Q2, the company decided to personalise its marketing. Audi worked with Google to analyse its key touch points about analytics. The data thus analysed included floodlight tags (or image pixels) on the Audi site, enabling the creation of remarketing lists of previous website visitors, as well as in-market segments. It helped Audi discover new users whose online behaviour showed their intention to make a car purchase.

Audi decided to use a car configurator on the brand website, allowing consumers to customise their dream car digitally. This enabled the brand to collect information about users’ tastes, which was then used to drive ad creatives dynamically.

Multiple ad creatives were created to make the ads more relevant and appealing to a spectrum of users – from someone with no previous contact with Audi to someone who had completed a configuration of the new Q2 through the car configurator. The creative also coupled preference signals such as model, colour, rims, and more, which, in turn, helped the Audi marketing team design highly-relevant advertising, enabling them to create multiple ad variations for different audiences, optimise bids, and track the campaign.

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In the last phase of audience qualification, using dynamic creative ads with the visitor’s individually configured car (chosen from over 6,000 combinations), Audi was able to double the efficiency of its standard ads.

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Speaking about the success of the ad campaign, Stephanie Geiger, Marketing Communications Germany, Audi AG, said, “A dynamic approach allowed us to create more than 6,000 variations of the ad. We were able to show the right message on all devices and all publishers.”

This is the power of programmatic advertising!

Today programmatic advertising has made it possible to gain access to precise data that is accurate for your ads delivery as well as performance. Let us look at how programmatic advertising has left an impact on the Middle East’s dynamic online advertising market and what has been its effect on both buyers and sellers.

Digital is the Way Forward in the Middle East

Over the past few years, ‘programmatic’ has become the buzzword in the advertising circle in the Middle East. Programmatic advertising provides a combination of data and technology, allowing ads to be served to the right people at the right time. It has had a significant impact on media buyers as agencies are seeing the benefits of different but associated technologies. From using high-quality user data for creative planning to generating micro-targeted ads, the technology involved in programmatic advertising amplifies brand campaigns.

Today, publishers have access to insights on buyer needs and campaign performance, leading to better sales optimisation. Over the past five years, we have seen brands migrating to digital. Digital advertising is continuously taking over more traditional forms of advertising like TV and print media in GCC. Several stats place the Middle East and Africa among the fastest growing regions when it comes to digital marketing. In 2016, a survey of 30 prominent economies, showed that UAE stood first when it came to in digital progress with an internet penetration rate of 96 per cent.

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Combining creativity while ensuring delivery is one way that programmatic advertising is driving growth. Custom ads within programmatic unlock a publisher’s high-impact inventory that was missing previously from non-guaranteed offerings. Consolidating spends and using both programmatic and native simultaneously, provides an elevated level of clarity and optimisation capabilities.

By 2017, Statista’s year-on-year timeline states that the total advertising spends in the Middle East and Africa were 4.1 per cent of the global ad spend. At a 5 per cent growth rate, the Middle East & Africa had spent USD 24.25 billion in 2017 with predictions that this figure would touch USD 27.49 billion by 2020.

It is predicted that by 2022, 100% of brands will consider implementing automated media buying. So most agencies and marketing teams are getting trained in programmatic to stay ahead of the game and mastering programmatic with the help of experts. While the ecosystem is growing and structuring itself, the mechanics, tools and reading grids still seem relatively complex and secretive – thus the need to get trained.

Moving Towards Programmatic Advertising

Elda Choucair, CEO, PHD Media MENA predicted in an interview that in 2019, “Programmatic advertising will spread further and deeper into various media, including OOH, and premium formats and inventory.” She added, “Ad tech is certainly taking prominence in our landscape, and there is a rapidly growing number of players in this space, promising brands higher level of relevance and performance. Google and Facebook dominate the digital landscape and as such, are the default setting for countless advertisers. The rapid growth in digital advertising has presented several challenges for advertisers, such as viewability, fraud, measurability, brand safety and data security. We’ve addressed these through technology and, in cases, regulations like GDPR.”

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Programmatic advertising is gaining rapid momentum in the Middle East and Africa region. Across sectors, we see a fast maturing programmatic scenario in the Middle East region. Recent research shows that the region has quickly evolved from a testing phase to the action phase and is leveraging technology usage and seeking best practices actively. Compared with the previous year’s responses, an increase of 135 per cent is recorded, in the understanding of programmatic at an ‘excellent’ level.

The findings also show that when it comes to the use of programmatic advertising, more than half of the respondents expressed that they use programmatic channels for both branding and performance campaigns, which indicates the market’s deep understanding of the value and capabilities of programmatic.

Moving towards the future, one can see that despite being a smaller region as compared to the rest of the world, the Middle East has been attracting many marketers. Digital ad space buying has already had its evolution in MENA and is steadily migrating towards programmatic. Through better internet access and mobile penetration rates, it will only be a matter of time before everyone in the region’s marketing is entirely based on programmatic advertising.

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