Google reveals top MENA searches and trends of 2021

Google reveals top MENA searches and trends of 2021
2021 was the year that people looked forward to connecting with others in real life. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 31 December 2021

Google reveals top MENA searches and trends of 2021

Google reveals top MENA searches and trends of 2021
  • In Saudi Arabia, search interest for ‘movie cinema’ grew by 125 percent

DUBAI: Every year, Google releases its “Year in Search” report featuring the top searches and trends throughout the year.

2021 was the year that people looked forward to connecting with others in real life, from small events like meeting at a café to finally being able to get married in the presence of loved ones. There was a 30 percent increase for the term “search planner” in Saudi Arabia and a massive 130 percent increase for “open wedding halls” in Egypt.

Still, the popularity of virtual events that connected people in 2020 never fully went away, with a 70 percent increase globally in search phrases containing the term “games with friends” such as “online games with friends” or “virtual games with friends.”

People also wanted to go out and enjoy different experiences as evidenced by a 100 percent increase in search interest for “picnic chair” in the UAE and a 100 percent increase for “zoo tickets” globally.

As going out became more normal, people were willing to brave the crowds to be able to enjoy movies and music in person. In Saudi Arabia, search interest for “movie cinema” grew by 125 percent, and “live music near me” grew by 40 percent globally.

With stay-at-home orders becoming the norm in 2020, people started focusing on their health — beyond just fitness and diet — and these habits were continued through 2021. Global search interest for “sunscreen for face” and “best time to take vitamin” grew by 100 percent and 40 percent respectively, indicating that people were continuing to take care of themselves even as they returned to normalcy.

Many took to baking and painting as ways to occupy their time and cultivate new hobbies during the pandemic and these behaviors continued in 2021 with a 35 percent increase in search interest for “drawing lesson” in Saudi Arabia and for “education centers” in Egypt.

Working from home and hybrid work models led to many people making changes to their homes in the last two years — whether that’s moving to a new home or renovating their current one. In Egypt, for example, there was a 40 percent increase in search interest for “furniture moving companies” and a whopping 400 percent increase globally for “budget small bathroom ideas.” In fact, between August and October, search interest for “home loan calculator” grew by 200 percent globally.

The pandemic brought to light that consumers favor brands that stand for something. A global study by US-based communications Zeno Group found that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion and defend companies with a strong “purpose.” In the UAE, too, shoppers started veering toward sustainability with search interest for “cruelty free” jumping up by 40 percent.

While consumers were favorable toward brands that cared, they were also interested in caring for community members themselves with global search interest for terms that contained the words “volunteer opportunities” and “donation centers near me” soaring by 100 percent.

The biggest restriction during the pandemic was travel and as restrictions eased in 2021, search interest in the UAE for “can I travel” increased by 100 percent and search entries containing the words “for international travel” grew by a massive 300 percent.

However, some habits that became conveniences during the pandemic stuck, with search interest in “staycation deals” in the UAE increasing by 170 percent and “food delivery” growing by 70 percent globally.


Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system
Updated 27 June 2022

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system

Emirates to air Shahid content exclusively on inflight entertainment system
  • MBC Group’s Natasha Matos-Hemingway: We are excited to offer Shahid’s content for Emirates’ customers to enjoy, just in time for the busiest travel season of the year
  • The partnership sees Emirates growing its library of Arabic content on ice, which currently includes over 420 audio channels and 170 film and TV show channels

DUBAI: Emirates has partnered with MBC Group’s streaming platform Shahid to offer premium content exclusively on its inflight entertainment system, ice.

The partnership makes ice the only channel to offer access to Shahid Originals, aside from the streaming service’s own premium subscription online platform.

“We are excited to offer Shahid’s content for Emirates’ customers to enjoy, just in time for the busiest travel season of the year,” said Natasha Matos-Hemingway, chief commercial and marketing officer (VOD) at MBC Group.

Starting in July, 135 hours of Shahid content from 15 shows will be available on ice.

The content has subtitles to ensure its accessibility to a large international audience.

The partnership sees Emirates growing its library of Arabic content on ice, which currently includes over 420 audio channels and 170 film and TV show channels.

“We are excited to welcome the world’s leading Arabic streaming service content on board so passengers can catch up on all their favorite entertainment inflight, just as they do at home,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ senior vice-president, Retail, IFE & Connectivity.

Shahid’s biggest original production “Rashash,” which has been hugely popular in the Arab region, will be streamed for the first time by an airline on Emirates.

Other titles include “Anbar 6,” “Hell’s Gate,” “Al Shak,” “Dofa'at Beirut,” and “Salon Zahra.”

“Emirates is our first airline partner, and their global footprint enables us to reach viewers from many new markets and broaden the reach of our shows and brand — there is no better match for our ambitions,” Matos-Hemingway added.


Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
Updated 27 June 2022

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
  • The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of Google for Jobs

BRUSSELS: Google was hit with an antitrust complaint on Monday after a Danish online job-search rival took its grievance to EU regulators, alleging the Alphabet unit had unfairly favored its own job search service.
The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of the service, Google for Jobs, three years after it first came under her microscope. Since then the EU has taken no specific action relating to the online job-search sector.
The European Commission and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent out of office hours.
Google, which has been fined more than $8.4 billion (€8 billion) by Vestager in recent years for various anti-competitive practices, has previously said it made changes in Europe after complaints from online job-search rivals.
Launched in Europe in 2018, Google for Jobs triggered criticism from 23 online job-search websites in 2019. They said they had lost market share after the online search giant had allegedly used its market power to push its new service.
Google’s service links to postings aggregated from many employers, allowing candidates to filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply. Google places a large widget for the tool at the top of results for ordinary web searches.
Jobindex, one of the 23 critics three years ago, said Google had skewed what had been a highly competitive Danish market toward itself via anticompetitive means.
Jobindex founder and CEO Kaare Danielsen said his company had built up the largest jobs database in Denmark by the time Google for Jobs had entered the local market last year.
“Nevertheless, in the short time following the introduction of Google for Jobs in Denmark, Jobindex lost 20 percent of search traffic to Google’s inferior service,” Danielsen told Reuters.
“By putting its own inferior service at the top of results pages, Google in effect hides some of the most relevant job offerings from job seekers. Recruiters in turn may no longer reach all job seekers, unless they use Google’s job service,” he said.
“This does not just stifle competition among recruitment services but directly impairs labor markets, which are central to any economy,” Danielsen said, urging the Commission to order Google to stop the alleged anti-competitive practices, fine the company and impose periodic payments to ensure compliance.
Jobindex said it had seen examples of free-riding, with some of its own job ads copied without its permission and marketed through Google for Jobs on behalf of Jobindex’s business partners. It also cited privacy risks to job applicants and its clients.


REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 27 June 2022

REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
  • The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money

Kwai is a new social media platform that allows users to share and edit short videos ranging from 15 seconds to five minutes in length.

Find funny short videos, add recordings and videos of your daily life, take part in daily challenges, or look for the best memes and videos.

The app will make it easier for users to raise their profile and appear on trending pages.

Kwai recently signed a deal with many Arab influencers to enhance engagement in the Middle East.

Use the app’s video editor to create your own masterpieces by utilizing your device’s camera, adding music or filters and instantly uploading your video.

The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money.

Rules for posting videos help to protect younger viewers, while Kwai concentrates on Arab culture, creating hashtags and challenges suitable for the Arabic audience.

The app, developed by Chinese company Beijing Kuaishou Technology, has been downloaded by 300 million users worldwide.


Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
Updated 26 June 2022

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
  • The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others

CANNES: SRMG CEO Jomana Al-Rashid joined a Bloomberg-hosted expert panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week to discuss the future of the media.

“We are actively working to anticipate and shape the future of media through more investment in talent, technology, data and analytics, regional and global partnerships, research and studies, mega events and conferences ... and perhaps most importantly, exclusive premium content delivered across all screens, multi-platforms and touchpoints ... all this with the objective to stay relevant and engage audiences in five continents,” Al-Rashid told the panel.

She was joined by Ebony and Jet CEO Michele Ghee, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Bloomberg Media Global Chief Marketing Officer Anne Kawalerski and MNTN President & CEO Mark Douglas.

The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others.

“We at SRMG strive to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving media sector, seize business opportunities, face potential challenges and exceed expectations, while continuing to offer added value to shareholders and business partners,” Al-Rashid added.

SRMG, one of the largest media and publishing groups in the Middle East, owns more than 30 major media outlets in the region, including Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Sayidaty.


Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
Updated 24 June 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
  • Leading awards program announces this year’s winners

CANNES: The award winners for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity have been announced.

This year saw 25,464 entries from 87 countries competing to become the global benchmark for excellence in creativity and effectiveness.

“This is always such a pivotal moment for us because the work entered provides a compelling insight into the global creative marketing landscape,” said Simon Cook, the festival’s CEO.

The Middle East region bagged more than 20 awards, including two Grands Prix for the UAE. “The Election Edition,” a campaign by Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar and Dubai-based marketing communications group Impact BBDO, won the highest number of trophies in the region.

The campaign, which won eight awards, including a Grand Prix in the print and publishing category, had “the kind of genius simplicity that we often see in Grand Prix-winning work,” said jury president Natalie Lam, who is Publicis Groupe’s chief creative officer for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

“The irony is that it’s a Grand Prix in print and publishing when there was no printing at all — something that shows that the power of an idea can transcend design,” said Dina Richa, the CEO of Impact BBDO.

Havas Middle East Dubai followed closely with seven trophy wins, all for Adidas. The campaign “Liquid Billboard” won a Grand Prix, one gold, two silver and one bronze in the outdoor category as well as a silver trophy in the media category.

The agency also won a silver trophy in the Entertainment Lion for Sports category for Adidas.’ “I’m Possible Billboards” campaign.

Horizon FCB Dubai’s innovative use of a new technology resulted in the campaign “Breakchains with Blockchain” for the Children of Female Prisoners Association, which won three silver trophies in the digital craft, media and creative commerce categories.

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, the agency and the association created non-fungible tokens, each designed to tell the story of why a woman was sentenced to prison and priced at the amount it would cost to free them.

Other winners from the region include TBWA\RAAD Dubai for its “Chickenstock” campaign for KFC, which won a silver trophy, the UAE Government Media Office for “The Warm Winter Livestream” campaign, which won a bronze trophy, and VMLY&R Commerce MENA Dubai’s “Twitter Feminine Arabic” campaign for Twitter, which won a silver trophy.

Carla El-Maalouli, head of marketing for Twitter in the MENA region, said the company was honored to be recognized at the festival for a campaign “that captures our ethos of inclusivity.”

“As a company, Twitter is continuously exploring new ideas and projects to ensure the platform is representative of the diverse voices that shape the conversation and the Arabic Feminine language setting is a continuation of our work around inclusive language,” she added.

The special awards of the night included:

Creative Company of the Year (previously Holding Company of the Year): WPP

Network of the Year: Ogilvy

Independent Network of the Year: Serviceplan Group

Agency of the Year: Dentsu Creative, Bengaluru

Independent Agency of the Year: We Believers, Brooklyn, USA

Creative Brand of the Year: Burger King

The Regional Network of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa was awarded to Publicis Worldwide.