With key sectors in boom mode, ad spend is settling into a steady pattern
Dubai: From sky-high billboards to the tiniest digital screens, there was enough happening for the UAE’s advertising agencies through the first half of the year. Based on gross estimates, ad spend during the period weighed in at $819 million, up by a healthy 5 per cent over the $788 million for the first six months of 2013.
The second quarter this year alone contributed $421 million to the spending pie, according to number crunching by the Pan Arab Research Centre (Parc). These numbers are based on official media rate cards, which do not take into effect the discounts and special deals that clients and agencies usually get from media outlets. The Parc figures also do not account for digital media spend.
If Carrefour was the top spender in print-related advertising during the first-half, the mantle when it comes to television exposure went to the construction major Arabtec, according to Parc estimates. The advertising star on radio was Etisalat, while on outdoor media it was the campaigns mounted by DSF.
With the overall spend patterns in positive territory, it suggests that the pace can be maintained by the industry. For instance, the second quarter spending of $421 million clearly holds up well against the comparable 2013 figures of $397 million, which was when there was a marked increase in Expo 2020 related campaigns ahead of the announcement confirming Dubai as the host city in November last.
So, clearly, this year, without the benefit of a specific campaign, enough was happening in the UAE to keep the ad market in play.
According to Tanvir Kanji, who heads the Inca Tanvir agency, “While ad budgets this year have not seen any radical increases, more and more new businesses are being established bringing in new advertisers. At the end of the day, this will even out the overall industry ad spend.
“Yes, the market is buoyant — there is migration of spends from the traditional to other marcomm vehicles such as on below-the-line and brand activation, events, and digital (in its various platforms).”
And that old advertisers’ favourite, real estate companies, came back into the fray in some strength and with lots to prove. Key stretches of Dubai are once again being plastered with themes extolling the virtues of the new launches. Developers and their agencies are using all possible outdoor locations to drive home their perspective. The same messages have also benefited print and TV, and looks to pick up another level or two closer to the Cityscape event in September and thereafter.
Apart from real estate, retail and banking are seeing that steady uptick in spending patterns, as is the hospitality sector. Government agencies are the others with optimum exposures.
As for ad agencies, market insiders reckon that some measure of consolidation of resources is always a possibility. “Consolidation has always brought benefits to agencies as well as media suppliers … whether the market is on the upside or downside,” said Satish Maya, CEO of BPG Maxus. “Size does matter in our industry and the bigger the group the greater the benefits.”
At the same time, “There is a definite need for specialised talents, namely in digital and social media services,” Maya said. “Some agencies in the market are capable of providing — proficiently — both mainstream and digital media services. In the event of that not being the case, clients have no other choice but to split the business among different agencies.”
With the UAE’s digital ad space still very much in its nascent phase, clients still have time on their hands to decide which tack to follow.