INTERVIEW: Influencer marketing has matured a lot in the region

INTERVIEW: Influencer marketing has matured a lot in the region
AnyTag has a social media analytics module that enables users to track key statistics on a brand’s own social media channels. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 December 2021

INTERVIEW: Influencer marketing has matured a lot in the region

INTERVIEW: Influencer marketing has matured a lot in the region
  • Maha Mahdy, head of AnyTag for AnyMind Group in MENA, discusses influencer marketing’s growth and evolution in the region

DUBAI: AnyMind Group, a brand enablement platform for influencers, marketers, publishers and businesses, recently announced new updates to its influencer marketing platform, AnyTag, which it launched at the beginning of this year.

Since launching the AnyTag platform for marketers and the AnyCreator mobile app for influencers in the Middle East and North Africa region, the company has seen significant growth with a current database of more than 5000 influencers across 11 countries, and agency partners and marketers including Pizza Hut and Talabat.

The new features on AnyTag include automated recommendations of similar influencers through lookalike modeling of an influencer’s content, the detection of brands an influencer has worked with in the past, and the identification and visualization of hashtags an influencer frequently uses.

AnyTag also has a social media analytics module that enables users to track key statistics on a brand’s own social media channels, together with competitor analysis, hashtag analysis and interactions analysis to identify the performance of mentioned and tagged posts of a brand by social media users.

Arab News spoke to Maha Mahdy, head of AnyTag for AnyMind Group in MENA, to discuss the evolution of influencer marketing from the days of YouTube and Facebook to Snapchat and TikTok.




Maha Mahdy, head of AnyTag for AnyMind Group in MENA. (Supplied)

Influencer marketing has been around for a while. How has it changed and where is it at today?

Over the past two years, influencer marketing got a really big boost in popularity; in part, due to the fact that there were a lot of budgets to spend, which would otherwise have been spent on things like events and so on, which got canceled.

There was also a huge shift in how influencer marketing operated in the past two years because everybody was adapting to the new normal. So, we saw people trying out different platforms and topics. For example, travel influencers were no longer traveling so they would talk about other topics such as fitness.

With that shift in platforms, formats and topics, brands started to jump on to see if there were new ways to work with influencers that didn’t necessarily fit the brand before.

One of the most interesting things about influencer marketing in the region is that it has matured a lot — both from a client and influencer perspective.

What does that maturity look like for clients and how is it reflected in the marketing?

If the target audience wants something, you need to find a way to give it to them and put your brand in the messaging. And so brands have started to let go of the reins; they held on very tightly for the past five years because it’s very difficult to trust somebody from outside the organization to communicate on your behalf.

But, it’s about finding that sweet spot — how do I, as a brand, give them (influencers) guidelines but then let them create the content? That’s massive maturity for a brand.

As marketers maintain that balancing act between their own corporate guidelines and influencers’ creative freedom, what are the things that they need to keep in mind when working with influencers?

One of the key things is to let go of the reins a little bit. Another thing that you would think is quite basic, but is still so important, is choosing the right influencer — it’s so crucial to select the right influencer to work with.

A lot of brands are still looking at the number of followers an influencer has, and quite frankly that doesn’t give you much on what an influencer can do for you. That’s why we have a multi-point, data-driven approach through the AnyTag platform wherein we look at everything from influencers’ engagement metrics to demographics.

There also needs to be brand synergy. When people see this person talking about your brand, does it make sense or does it look forced? We also look at things like their collaboration history, which includes whether they have worked with competitors or have bad-mouthed the brand in the past.

Looking at the platform side of influencer marketing, how has that changed from it being predominantly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to now Snapchat and TikTok?

Selecting the right platform is one of the most important things when we’re planning out a campaign and that comes down to the target audience. We’re also looking at the category, so, for example, when it comes to fashion, we know Instagram is inspirational and aspirational; with gamers, it’s YouTube.

The target audience and category work hand in hand. So, if I’m looking to target Gen Z, instantly our first thought is exploring TikTok. However, if I want to communicate with Saudi moms, I have to integrate Snapchat, because these target groups live and breathe TikTok and Snapchat respectively.

Then there’s also the format. Using the same examples, Gen Z and Saudi moms both like quick content formats so TikTok and Snapchat make sense versus older millennials who would like a good 15-minute IGTV video on an interesting topic.

Is there any particular platform that outperforms others for influencer marketing?

Looking at the campaigns we have run on AnyTag, I can see a clear preference for Instagram in the MENA region. The reason for that is the ease of use of the platform, a very high level of data availability, and the numerous content formats. Instagram really won the game with content formats because it has everything from Stories, to photos, to different video formats like Reels, which is quick, and IGTV, which is long-form.

So, Instagram dominated the space but TikTok also cemented its position last year and YouTube will always be a strong player for the MENA region because there are really strong technology and gaming influencers, as well as children’s channels, on the platform. In Saudi Arabia, however, I would rank Snapchat as high as Instagram, but that’s only in KSA as we don’t see much demand for it outside the Kingdom.


Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 
Updated 07 October 2022

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 
  • Leo Burnett Riyadh picks up 10 prizes for its work for client Ikea
  • Middle East region collects 36 awards at event to celebrate creativity in advertising and marketing

DUBAI: Leo Burnett Riyadh was the big winner at this year’s Cresta Awards ceremony, an annual event held to recognize creativity in advertising and marketing.

The agency collected five silver and five bronze awards in various categories — including Print Craft, Print and Out-of-Home, and The Media Magic Award — for its campaigns for client Ikea.

The Middle East region as a whole won 36 awards in the competition, which saw entries from more than 70 countries.

A total of 347 entries were shortlisted, of which 58 were from the Middle East.

The UAE was also a big winner thanks to its push toward digitization and innovation.

The UAE Government Media Office picked up two silver and seven bronze awards for its three campaigns: “The Donation Plate,” which promotes the “100 Million Meals” scheme, “The Warm Winter Livestream” tourism campaign and “The Visitor from the Future” for the Dubai Museum of the Future.

Advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi MEA won one gold, one silver and four bronze awards for its “Empty Plates” campaign for the UAE Government Media Office.

Horizon FCB Dubai picked up four gold, two silver and two bronze awards for its “Breakchains with Blockchain” campaign for the Children of Female Prisoners’ Association.

In Egypt, thousands of women are sent to prison every year for being unable to repay loans often worth only a few hundred dollars.

Working with global artists, Horizon FCB and the association created non-fungible tokens, each designed to tell the story of a woman sent to prison and priced at the amount it would cost to free her.

Among the other winners were Impact BBDO Dubai, which picked up a Grand Prix in the Print and OOH category and a gold award in the Ambient and Experiential category for its “The Elections Edition” campaign for Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar.

The Film House Doha won a bronze award in the Brand Content category for its “Unparalleled” campaign.
 


Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 
Updated 07 October 2022

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

LONDON: The Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) on Thursday released new guidelines for obtaining “Mawthooq” (trustworthy) licenses to advertise in Saudi Arabia. 

Under the campaign name “Your ad is #Mawthooq,” GCAM revealed on its website a list of questions and answers to simplify the process of identifying which businesses need to obtain the license. 

For example, an individual promoting work on a personal social media account does not require a Mawthooq license, but working as a marketer in a bank and promoting personal loans as well as banking services on social media requires a license.

Working as a designer and promoting designs on personal social media accounts does not require a Mawthooq license. Similarly, those operating gift wrapping, non-commercial photography and workshop business and using personal social media accounts do not require a license. 

The news comes following an announcement by GCAM last August stating that from early October, every Saudi and non-Saudi content creator in the Kingdom who earns revenue through advertising on social media must first apply for an official permit. 

For a fee of SR15,000 ($4,000), content creators will receive a permit lasting three years, during which time they can work with as many private entities as they wish and promote any product or service, as long as it does not violate the Kingdom’s laws or values.

The new regulations are being touted as legal protections, both for influencers and businesses wishing to advertise with them, so that rates and contractual obligations are standardized across the industry.

Saudi influencers, whether based in the Kingdom or abroad, must apply for the permit if they wish to work with a brand — local or international. However, non-Saudi residents in the country must follow a different track.

After applying to the Ministry of Investment for a permit to work in the country, they can then apply for an influencer permit through GCAM. However, non-Saudi residents must be represented by specific advertising agencies.


Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
Updated 06 October 2022

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
  • ‘Dare to take Risks,’ featuring Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar, will begin streaming on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17
  • It will follow them as they travel across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt participating in activities such as mountain climbing and diving

DUBAI: Warner Bros. Discovery has partnered with the Saudi Telecommunication Company’s TV service Intigral to launch a new reality show, “Dare to take Risks,” starring Arab influencers Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar.

The six-episode series will follow the three friends as they embark on a journey across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, participating along the way in activities such as mountain climbing and diving.

“This unique project is a landmark moment within our long-standing partnership with Intigral,” said Francesco Perta, vice-president of business development and distribution for MENA and Turkey at Warner Bros. Discovery.

“We are excited for viewers to be inspired by this new generation of Arab women, with their extraordinary creativity, zest and humor.”

The show was filmed in some of the region’s most historic and distinctive locations, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hegra in Saudi and Aswan in Egypt, as well as at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai.

Peter Mrkic, Intigral’s chief commercial officer, said the partnership “marks a new milestone for digital entertainment in the region as it engages a group of talents from the Kingdom and the region, and the best production and broadcast technologies.

“It will also enhance the Kingdom’s position as a production powerhouse and a hub for the latest digital entertainment productions.”

The first episode of “Dare to take Risks” will be available to stream on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17, with new episodes released each week.


More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
Updated 06 October 2022

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
  • New buttons will allow people to customize what they see, company says
  • Move is part of wider effort to improve AI systems

LONDON: Facebook has introduced a new set of features to give users more control over what appears on their feeds.

The changes mean that on all posts from individuals and communities that a user is linked to, including recommended posts, there will be buttons offering the options to “Show more” or “Show less.”

“Today, we’re announcing new ways to customize what you see in your Facebook Feed so you can discover what’s most relevant to you,” the company said in a blog post.

Depending on which button is pressed, the algorithm will temporarily increase or decrease related content, it said.

Facebook said the move was part of its ongoing efforts to improve its artificial intelligence systems.

“By offering more ways to incorporate direct feedback into feed ranking, we’re making our artificial intelligence systems smarter and more responsive”, it said.

According to Tom Alison, the head of Facebook’s core app, the algorithm will record the preference for 30 to 60 days, a time frame decided after a study of users’ preferences.

“We are looking at it as a signal you are giving us that is a little more time-bound than liking a post,” Alison said.

Currently, users of Facebook and Instagram — both of which are owned by Meta Platforms Inc. — can hide posts from people they follow or have been suggested, but the new feature will encompass Facebook posts from friends and recommendations.

The company said also it was trialing new ways to help users customize how much content they see in their feeds from the friends and family, groups and other pages to which they are connected.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the changes were part of the company’s efforts to compete with the surge in popularity of Chinese rival TikTok, whose recommendation-based algorithm has proven a hit for the video-sharing app.

“Features like these can help you discover more of the content that’s valuable to you, so you can see more of what you want and less of what you don’t,” the company said.

“As with every product change we make, we’ll use direct feedback to continually refine our approach.”


Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
Updated 06 October 2022

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
  • ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it "utterly and unambiguously" rejected the allegations
  • There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among six public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged unlawful information-gathering at its titles.
The others taking part in the legal action are actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, John’s husband David Furnish and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence, the domestic PA news agency said in a report.
The six had “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), a statement by law firm Hamlins acting for the group said.
ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it “utterly and unambiguously” rejected the allegations.
Lawrence, whose son was killed in a racially-motivated attack in south London in 1993, had also lodged a claim against Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers, publisher of various titles including The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.
The details of that claim are not known, but it is understood also to relate to misuse of private information.
The statement about the legal action against ANL released by Hamlins claimed that the unlawful acts alleged to have taken place included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.
It also alleged that payments were made to police “with corrupt links to private investigators” for sensitive information, that medical information was “obtained by deception” and that bank accounts and financial information was accessed “through illicit means and manipulation.”
Hamlins is representing Harry and Frost, while the other claimants are represented by law firm Gunnercooke.
There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain’s phone-hacking scandal.
That resulted in the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World.
While most of those claims have now been settled, this is the first claim to be brought against ANL.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) settled claims relating to the News Of The World, while never admitting any liability over claims made in relation to The Sun.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has settled claims relating to its titles, including The People and The Sunday Mirror.
Both publishers are currently facing further claims, and have recently made attempts to bring the long-running litigation to an end.
A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said it “utterly and unambiguously” refuted “these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old.
“These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence, appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.”