With over 60 million Facebook users, 7 million Twitter users and some of the highest YouTube view rates in the world, it’s clear that the Internet and smartphone explosion is gathering more and more force within the Middle East.
In fact, all statistics are pointing towards the Arab world as the next centre of Internet boom, and while it is no secret that the region has become a big online consumer of content, it seems brands are not currently meeting its needs.
To date, a large majority of what is produced in the Middle East is either recycled from abroad or well within the margins of “safety” rather than material that can be classified as memorable or outstanding. If content is king, then quality must be his queen, and quality content not only needs to inform but also entertain and generate interest in order to get the audience clicking that share button.
It has taken some time for content marketing to become a recognised tool that marketers in the Middle East need to use in their overall strategies because the region has always lacked good quality, reliable data in order to understand the trends and activities as they happen — but that is all beginning to change.
60% of marketers in the region plan to increase content marketing budgets over the next year, and if content marketing is all about being creative then the slogans and campaigns that are now coming out just go to show that it isn’t a lack of creativity in the Middle East — rather a lack of opportunity or precedent. The last two years have seen special interest blogs attract niche audiences, from food and fashion, to design and photography, to gaming and technology.
A content marketing survey conducted by Zeentree during the Dubai Lynx International Advertising Festival in March gives clear insight into the plans of the industry’s leading marketing talents, and found that 69% of marketers interviewed view content marketing as ‘very important’ to their marketing efforts, with 60% expecting to increase their content marketing budgets this year – and 31% reporting it would grow to be up to half of their entire digital budget.
This is significant growth, but still only 2% of worldwide content is written in Arabic and only 5% of Fortune 500 websites have an Arabic language version. So, for companies placed in the Middle East, or focusing on the Arabic-speaking market, there’s no time like the present to start producing content for that audience.
The Middle East continues to invest more and more in technology, digital marketing and e-commerce so if you are thinking of expanding into the area, a well-planned website that has put some effort, time and money into SEO and proper content will stand out from the competition at the moment — and there are definitely some good opportunities to be had by the early bird.