Riyadh: Arab News
Published — Wednesday 30 May 2012
Last update 30 May 2012 8:23 pm
Fadi Assad Doidri, a senior industry professional with over ten years' experience in Saudi Arabia, and managing director of Dakkin Advertising & Design Consultancy, believes the move to digital platforms is crucial for the public and private sectors because of the benefits of reduced costs, more effective marketing and increasing environmental concerns over the production and use of paper.
Doidri recently opened an office in California's Silicon Valley, USA, driven in part by "the limited suitable technical human resources" in the Middle East.
"Now in California, I can fully appreciate the value of tools of interactivity. We can create amazing social media campaigns, smart phone and tablet apps, Content Management System (CMS) websites, and other digital integrated services and campaigns. The vital benefit of CMS is in 'dynamic content' which enables website content to be continuously updated and managed, especially by clients themselves. One example of CMS platforms is Drupal, which is 'open source.' This is used by some of the biggest sites on the web, such as The Economist and The White House..."
Doidri said that while some media buyers preferred to promote traditional marketing vehicles, "research has revealed that online impressions are by far the most cost-effective."
He said migration to online news has been slow in the Middle East because the Arab public still prefers reading newspapers. "However, some of the large newspaper groups are gearing up for digital migration, and most newspapers have some online footprint. Generally, this still requires development, and a shift in people's habits and perceptions.
Large companies with social responsibility budgets could run public awareness campaigns as one solution. At the same time, strategies need to be devised to generate financial returns for newspapers' quality online content.
All of this is set against a backdrop of diminishing advertising revenues for print, over the past five years; in terms of its proportional share of total advertising spend. This trend is set to continue, though magazines in general may have fared better given their pan-Arab scope and, in many cases, their appeal to the huge female market."
Doidri believes digital mediums have an added benefit. "In many parts of the world, there has long been a concern for the environment regarding the huge volume of printed materials being produced, much of which ends up in landfills."
On the digital future, regarding advertising and media, Doidri said: "Greater investment is required to develop our own digital space. We also have to be prepared for the digital platform being the future advertising growth driver, hand-in-hand with the increasing technology adoption levels.
However, much still has to be done to rationalize the way digital media campaigns can be purchased efficiently without having to go to multiple suppliers. For instance, through a single source you could arrange a national media campaign that covers all 26 of Saudi Arabia's airports.
But, when organizing a digital campaign, you would currently have to purchase through more than one, and perhaps multiple, sources."
Doidri said there was an increasing trend by the Saudi government and the corporate world toward e-commerce transactions and digital marketing, but this has been limited. "Imagine the time-savings through using e-transactions for obtaining visas, as only one example. On a personal level, when I am in the United States and many other countries, I can purchase even my basic needs online, and have them conveniently delivered to my home."
On the issue of Arabic websites and Arabic content on the Internet, Doidri said he was part of the King Abdullah Initiative for Arabic Content and Wiki Arabi, which translated the most important science and technology themed articles of Wikipedia. The initiative managed to increase Arabic digital Internet content fourfold, from 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent, according to Google estimates. "This was a great achievement in beginning to make Arabic Internet content more closely reflect the proportion of Arabic speaking people among the global population."
Doidri said that human resources and recruitment has also been transformed by the digital world, citing LinkedIn and its integration with other mediums such as Facebook and Twitter. He is currently recruiting using these websites.
Doidri said he also hoped that the Arab world would develop and own its own relevant social media websites, to be used for good causes.