Ramadan 2021 on social media

Ahmed Hafez Younis of Facebook MENA (L), Shant Oknayan of TikTok (C) and Benjamin Ampen of Twitter (R). (Supplied)
Ahmed Hafez Younis of Facebook MENA (L), Shant Oknayan of TikTok (C) and Benjamin Ampen of Twitter (R). (Supplied)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Ramadan 2021 on social media

Ahmed Hafez Younis of Facebook MENA (L), Shant Oknayan of TikTok (C) and Benjamin Ampen of Twitter (R). (Supplied)
  • Facebook, Twitter, TikTok execs weigh in on this year’s Ramadan trends

DUBAI: Ramadan is as much a time for shopping and entertainment as it is for charity and togetherness.

According to data from online advertising company Criteo, consumers in the Middle East start searching for retail products well before the start of the holy month of fasting.

Consumers also spend more time on the internet, especially on social media. Undoubtedly, this makes Ramadan an important month for advertisers and digital platforms.

Arab News spoke to three social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to learn what worked this year and how it differed from previous years.

AHMED HAFEZ YOUNIS (FIZO), CREATIVE SHOP LEAD FOR MENA, FACEBOOK

What were the top trends you noticed this year?

There are no surprises when it comes to Ramadan communication.

We still witnessed our fair share of emotional songs and funny TV ads, but what was different is how many advertisers embraced a mobile-first strategy rather than just building for TV and then adapting or optimizing for all the other mediums later.

This Ramadan we’ve seen various AR (augmented reality) filters, Messenger bots, and mobile video ads as well as a great deal of campaigns utilizing content creators in interesting ways.

What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on Ramadan advertising?

The direct effect of the pandemic was very much felt and seen last Ramadan as most advertisers didn’t know what to do or say.

This year it’s different; COVID-19 is a reality. Some brands, like Maggi, embraced the spirit of Ramadan reflecting on how it will always bring us together even if it’s not physically, while others chose to portray hope in general without mentioning COVID-19 directly.

What kind of content and ads performed the best during Ramadan?

It is too early to tell from a business impact point of view, but I would like to reiterate on mobile-first advertising.

What can brands learn from this year’s success stories?

Thinking mobile-first will always be more rewarding than adapting content created for a different medium such as TV.

In today’s attention economy one size does not fit all. If brands want to capture people’s attention, they have to think people-first.

BENJAMIN AMPEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, TWITTER MENA

What were the top trends you noticed this year?

Some of the top general hashtags that trended during Ramadan this year included Ramadan kareem, sahoor, and iftar.

What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on Ramadan advertising?

The campaigns were in line with the results of a pre-Ramadan survey that we conducted with those on Twitter in the region.

Sixty percent of respondents said that Twitter is their go-to platform to discover what is happening during the holy month, and their most sought-after content is entertainment, comedy, food, and health.

We also found that watching videos during Ramadan is within the top three activities on the platform. 

This is reflected in the campaigns that have taken place this year, as the general themes of Ramadan were still prevalent despite the pandemic. We also saw that video ad formats were quite successful in the creative used for ads and limited Ramadan offers were common. Notable campaigns, however, such as Zain KSA’s vaccine song did surface, which celebrated the holy month through an important and timely message.

What kind of content and ads performed the best during Ramadan?

Since our research found that watching videos during Ramadan is within the top three activities on Twitter by those using the platform in the region, we expected video ad formats to perform well.

In addition, campaign objectives that optimized toward building awareness and reach performed strongly this Ramadan. This campaign type maximizes the number of people who see the ad within a set period of time, and also gets the brand’s name out there, drives awareness, and connects it with potential new customers.

On the direct response front, carousel ads saw a lot of success. This ad format provides an immersive experience through horizontally swipeable images or videos, to drive people to a brand’s app or website.

Campaigns that leveraged our new amplify pre-roll Ramadan curated categories also saw great success.

What can brands learn from this year’s success stories?

To start, video is an ad format that is continuously performing strongly on the platform. Research conducted by Hall and Partners for those on Twitter in Saudi Arabia and the UAE reinforced the increase in usage of video as a format for content discovery.

Sixty-six percent of KSA respondents watch videos multiple times a week, and almost half in the UAE see Twitter as their main source of video content.

The next step is for advertisers to clearly define whether they are launching something new or connecting with what’s happening on Twitter.

Lastly, building a phased approach to campaigns is important. We encourage brands to find their unique angle as part of their messaging strategy.

SHANT OKNAYAN, GENERAL MANAGER, GLOBAL BUSINESS SOLUTIONS AT BYTEDANCE MENAP

What were the top trends you noticed this year?

We saw the TikTok community in the region focus on the traditions and celebrations associated with Ramadan, especially as Ramadan gatherings turned virtual.

Both creators and brands focused on capturing key Ramadan moments on TikTok, from people decorating their homes, to preparing iftars and trying new recipes, to spending time with family.

In both Arabic and English, the Ramadan moments hashtags were the top two most trending hashtags on TikTok with the highest video views and publishing rate.

It is common knowledge that Ramadan shows are a highlight of the holy month, and hence we saw the Ramadan series hashtag trending. We also saw #ramadancheck and #ramadanpreps perform well, with the community sharing their preparations for the holy month.

What impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on Ramadan advertising this year?

With the pandemic bringing on restrictions for gatherings, we saw brands tapping into people’s passions virtually.

Ramadan is also widely recognized as a time to give back to the communities we operate within, and as such, we saw brands increasing their social efforts through special campaigns, especially in light of the hardships faced by people during the pandemic.

What kind of content and ads performed the best during Ramadan?

In this region, Arabic creators and content saw a dramatic increase in engagement as they tapped into trending conversations around food, fashion, and entertainment. Simultaneously, branded hashtags allowed businesses to generate more engagement on their content.

What can brands learn from this year’s success stories?

Our research shows that TikTok’s users are clearly in a discovery mindset.

According to a study done by TikTok for Business on content engagement patterns during Ramadan last year, 52 percent of users said they learn about new products via brand video ads on TikTok.

This mindset demands that brands stay relevant, which allows them to be discovered. This is increasingly true during Ramadan; the audience has more time and appetite for discovery, but there is also more content to be discovered.

As such, brands have a big opportunity to optimize and localize their content and campaigns to the interests of the region, which will allow for better exposure, higher retention, and strong engagement among their followers, especially during key moments like Ramadan.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg targeted in US privacy lawsuit

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2022

Facebook’s Zuckerberg targeted in US privacy lawsuit

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
  • “Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in nearly every decision the company makes,” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in the suit

WASHINGTON: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named personally in a Washington lawsuit Monday alleging he played a direct role in decisions that set the stage for the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
The US capital’s attorney general argues that Zuckerberg was closely involved in conceiving the framework that allowed the Britain-based consulting firm to harvest over 70 million US Facebook users data
A whistleblower revealed in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica went on to use that data for political purposes, including trying to rally support for Donald Trump.
“Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in nearly every decision the company makes,” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in the suit.
He added that Zuckerberg’s control is baked into the structure of the company, where the founder and CEO holds a majority of voting shares.
Racine’s office sued Facebook over its data privacy practices in 2018 as part of a case that is ongoing.
Facebook’s parent company Meta did not immediately respond to the new lawsuit’s allegations, but spokesman Andy Stone noted on Twitter that a judge had previously rejected Racine’s bid to add Zuckerberg as a defendant in the privacy case.
US authorities imposed what they described as a “historic” $5 billion fine on Facebook in the wake of the scandal, and also required Facebook to ramp up privacy protections, provide detailed quarterly reports on compliance with the deal, and have an independent oversight board.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has removed access to its data from thousands of apps suspected of abusing it, restricted the amount of information available to developers in general, and made it easier for users to calibrate restrictions on personal data sharing.


Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
Updated 23 May 2022

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
  • SNABusiness.com will cover business and economic news and analysis

ABU DHABI: Sky News Arabia has launched a new Arabic-language digital platform SNABusiness.com, featuring breaking news, economic analysis and in-depth reporting.

The launch of the platform is in response to “consumer demand for objective and actionable economic intelligence and insights,” according to a company statement.

“The launch of SNAbusiness.com reflects Sky News Arabia’s commitment to provide our audiences with the economic news and analysis they need,” said Youssef Tsouri, head of news at Sky News Arabia.

He added: “We are witnessing an increasing demand for business news at a time when the whole world is in greater need of this genre of information.”

The digital publication will cover all topics relating to business and economy across industries including financial technology, energy and oil, tourism, real estate, agriculture and other sectors.

The website’s content will include diverse content types including reports, videos and exclusive interviews. SNABusiness.com aims to present complex data in an easy-to-understand manner through charts, infographics and digital videos.

Tsouri said: “Our aim is to provide fast and accurate reporting to our viewers and deliver our brand promise to be ‘your reliable source of economic information’.”


Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer
Updated 23 May 2022

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

DUBAI: Leading entertainment resort Disneyland Paris has released its first advert specifically for Arab audiences featuring Dubai-based influencer Sara Karrit.

Airing in the UAE and KSA, the advert is produced by Dubai-based local agency ArabyAds, and features Karrit sharing her dream of visiting Disneyland with her son on the occasion of the destination’s 30th anniversary.

Samira Tachfint, sales and marketing director at Disneyland Paris told Arab News: “Arab audiences, especially those based in the GCC, have always been a major part of our international audience base.

“There is a strong appetite among Emirati/GCC families for Disney destinations and at Disneyland Paris they have access to the ultimate magical experience just 6 hours away by air.”

A large number of Arab families visit every year, particularly during summer, said Tachfint. “Our bespoke luxury offerings and our ever-evolving entertainment encourage repeat visits.”

Disneyland Paris’ 30th-anniversary celebrations include Premier Access Ultimate, a digital service being launched this summer that will provide guests with one-time expedited access to 12 of the most popular attractions, in addition to new shows and experiences.

Tachfint said: “As we mark our 30th anniversary, we produced this ad to celebrate the connection we have forged with our GCC visitors over the past three decades. The ad, produced completely in the GCC and starring local talent, showcases how the magic of Disneyland Paris is alive for different generations and genders.”

Disneyland Paris is the most visited tourist destination in Europe — ahead of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower combined — with more than 16 million annual visitors, according to the company.


Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Updated 23 May 2022

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
  • “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” collection features 50+ shows and films about people with disabilities

DUBAI: Netflix is marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 19) by launching a new collection, “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” that features over 50 shows and movies highlighting characters and stories about people living with disabilities.

The collection includes shows such as “Raising Dion,” “Special,” and “Atypical” and movies that include “The Fundamentals of Caring” and “Feel the Beat.”

“How we access stories has changed a lot,” said Heather Dowdy, Netflix’s director of product accessibility, in a blog post.

“Whether it’s video conference calls, texting, or the flashing doorbell, nowadays technology can build bridges to access for many people living with disabilities.”

Netflix is therefore expanding its language availability of Audio Descriptions (AD) and Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH). These features will be made available across more of the streaming giant’s catalog in languages including Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

“For decades, your access to entertainment was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke, meaning that until recently people who needed AD or SDH could only enjoy a story if it was made in their local language,” said Dowdy.

“By increasing our SDH and AD language availability to over 20 languages, we hope to give all of our members the ability to see their lives reflected on screen, no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or what abilities you have.”

Netflix will also display badges for shows and films that have AD and SDH on web and iOS, as well as host accessibility screenings in select countries around the world.

“With over 1 billion people living with disabilities globally, the opportunity to tell more inclusive stories and bond within our communities over storytelling is tremendous,” said Dowdy.


Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios
Updated 23 May 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s leading theater operator Muvi Cinemas launched Muvi Studios on Monday, and appointed Saudi film industry pioneer Faisal Baltyuor as its CEO.

Muvi Studios will focus on developing both Saudi and Egyptian films for the Saudi public, concentrating on films for the big screen. 

Muvi Cinema announced this step as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build a stronger film industry since theaters reopened in 2018.

“I have been collaborating with Muvi Cinemas in various ways since it launched three years ago,” Baltyuor said. “Its growth in Saudi Arabia has been extraordinary. It has captured the imagination of the nation with 46 percent box office market share tapping into the pent-up demand for a globally inspired theater experience, complemented by local execution.

“Now, through the creation of Muvi Studios, we are intent on producing world class Arabic movies to entertain audiences in the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

“At the same time, this is another exciting development for the rapidly expanding Saudi film production sector, as the country evolves rapidly into a vibrant society.”

Formerly CEO of the Saudi Film Council, Baltyour also previously led an initiative with the Ministry of Culture to develop the Saudi film industry before founding the largest specialized Saudi film distribution company, CineWaves Film, in 2020. 

He is a board member of Manga Productions and holds several other roles in the Saudi film industry.

“The Middle East region, and especially Saudi Arabia, is witnessing a renaissance of its movie industry and we are excited to have Faisal onboard to lead the company into this new venture to develop Saudi and regional film content to the big screen,” Muvi Cinemas’ chief executive, Adon Quinn, said.  

“The cash we’re investing in Muvi Studios will be used to produce a slate of top-quality Arabic movies and we aim to release a minimum of three films within the next 12 months.”

Since its launch in February 2019, Muvi Cinemas has expanded to 22 locations across the Kingdom, operating 205 screens featuring the latest movie experiences, including Samsung Onyx, 4DX, ScreenX, Dolby Cinema and Xperience powered by CGS technology.