Google and Ipsos study reveals shopping trends in MidEast ahead of Black Friday

Google and Ipsos study reveals shopping trends in MidEast ahead of Black Friday
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Consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among the most excited to search for Black Friday compared to Brazil, the UK, and the US, according to Google’s internal data. (Supplied)
Google and Ipsos study reveals shopping trends in MidEast ahead of Black Friday
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The new study by Ipsos explores the key changes in the consumer journey when purchasing during the Black Friday season. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 October 2022

Google and Ipsos study reveals shopping trends in MidEast ahead of Black Friday

Google and Ipsos study reveals shopping trends in MidEast ahead of Black Friday
  • 80 percent of shoppers usually watch a video related to the product they want
  • 55 percent of respondents begin hunting for products early-on

DUBAI: Google has released a new study, conducted by Ipsos, highlighting the key shopping habits of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Black Friday — or White Friday as it’s known in the region — shopping season (October to December).
The study findings, along with internal insights by Google, were shared with advertisers and industry experts at Google’s superstore pop-up event in Dubai earlier this month.
Consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among the most excited to search for Black Friday compared to Brazil, the UK, and the US, according to Google’s internal data.
The new study by Ipsos explores the key changes in the consumer journey when purchasing during the Black Friday season.
“The shopping season has been gaining massive significance in shoppers’ lifestyles in the last couple of years. The pandemic has most definitely increased the relevance of online shopping and pushed retailers to use early promotions to pull holiday sales forward,” Ziad Issa, chief client officer of Ipsos Media, told Arab News.
One of the key findings is that consumers are ready to be inspired and are shopping for new brands more than ever before.
Online searches are driving retail traffic globally. Every day, 15 percent of Google’s searches are new, creating constant opportunities for trends, products and brands.
About 33 percent of shoppers who plan to participate in the sales season do not have anything specific in mind to purchase, and 60 percent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia look for new products and brands when browsing online during the sales season.
Both good reviews and deals lead people to consider exploring new options for the first time.
The study also found that video plays a crucial role in the consumer journey, both for discovering new products and supporting purchase decisions.
80 percent of shoppers usually watch a video related to the product they wanted.
Moreover, one-third of shoppers classify video content as their favorite source of ideas, and two-thirds of them consider video content a way to help them identify what to buy.
On YouTube, shoppers are mostly interested in videos that cover product reviews and rankings, or ones related to unboxing or comparing products from different brands. Last year, for instance, searches for “product reviews” on YouTube increased by 2.6 times year on year.
Shoppers are keen to make the most out of the Black Friday season, according to the study.
The shopping cycle in MENA begins at least two months before Singles’ Day (Nov. 11) as well as Black Friday and extends up to a month after the holidays, said Google.
Individuals are keen on making the most of this sales season and finding the products they want to purchase ahead of time with 55 percent starting their search early on and not waiting for the sales dates.
Additionally, customers expect the browsing-to-checkout experience to be seamless. About 41 percent prefer to shop both online and in-store during the shopping season and 61 percent expect to find the same deals online as they would in-store.
The expectation for a seamless shopping experience extends throughout the purchase journey with search interest for “same-day delivery” and “click-and-collect” growing by 25 percent year on year.
Deals and discounts are becoming increasingly important to shoppers, the study found.
Shoppers are also looking for more detailed and timely information such as ratings, current deals, discounts for loyalty program members, and stock availability for shipping and pick-up.
One of the themes of the holiday season, according to the study, is self-care, especially during Singles’ Day. While 70 percent buy products for themselves during this time, 45 percent are searching for gift ideas for their loved ones.
Unsurprisingly, this period is also a busy one for advertisers, who increase their advertising budgets to reach more consumers. “In fact, Ipsos confirms that the online advertising expenditure during the shopping season (Q4 2021) is 1.2x higher than what is witnessed in the months prior to that (Q3 2021),” said Issa.
To help retailers, Google recently launched new tools dedicated to their online growth.
The Performance Max tool allows retailers to grow online, offline or through omnichannel sales by unlocking all of Google’s ad inventory from a single campaign, and the Grow My Store tool, which is available in Arabic and English, guides local businesses to improve their digital storefront and optimize the online customer experience.
FAST FACTS
Consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are among the most excited to search for Black Friday..
33 percent who plan to participate in the sales season do not have anything specific in mind to purchase
60 percent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia look for new products and brands when browsing online during the sales season.
70 percent buy products for themselves on Singles’ Day.
41 percent prefer to shop both online and in-store during the shopping season.
61 percent expect to find the same deals online as they would in-store.


Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet
Updated 1 min 3 sec ago

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet

Twitter scrambles to fix meltdown as many unable to tweet
  • Users first noticed the problem when they tried to send tweets and received a message saying they had reached their “tweet limit”

Many Twitter users found themselves unable to tweet, follow accounts or access their direct messages on Wednesday as the Elon Musk-owned platform experienced a slew of widespread technical problems.
“Twitter may not be working as expected for some of you. Sorry for the trouble. We’re aware and working to get this fixed,” the company tweeted from its “support” account.
Further details were unavailable Wednesday afternoon and an email seeking comment from the company’s press account went unanswered. Twitter has dissolved its media relations team.
Users first noticed the problem when they tried to send tweets and received a message saying they had reached their “tweet limit.”
While Twitter has for years limited the number of tweets an account can send, it is 2,400 per day — or 100 an hour — far more than most regular, human-run accounts send on the platform.
Accounts also had trouble when they tried to follow another Twitter user, getting a message “You are unable to follow more people at this time” with a link to the company’s policy on follow limits.
Twitter’s long-standing limit on how many accounts a single user can follow in a single day is 400 — again, more than a regular Twitter user would generally reach on any given day.
It is not clear what caused Wednesday’s meltdown, but Twitter engineers and experts have been warning that the platform is at an increased risk of fraying since Musk fired most of the people who worked on keeping it running.
Already in November, engineers who left Twitter described for The Associated Press why they expect considerable unpleasantness for Twitter’s more than 230 million users now that well over two-thirds of Twitter’s pre-Musk core services engineers are apparently gone.
While they don’t anticipate near-term collapse, the engineers said Twitter could get very rough at the edges — especially if Musk makes major changes without much off-platform testing.
One Twitter engineer, who had worked in core services, told the AP in November that engineering team clusters were down from about 15 people pre-Musk — not including team leaders, who were all laid off — to three or four before even more resignations.
Then more institutional knowledge that can’t be replaced overnight walked out the door.
“Everything could break,” the programmer said.


Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake
Updated 09 February 2023

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake

Backlash for Charlie Hebdo cartoon mocking Turkiye earthquake
  • The magazine shared on the day of the quake a drawing gloating over the death of thousands
  • Commentators described the cartoon as "racist" and "vile"

LONDON: A cartoon scoffing at the deadly earthquake that has killed more than 11,000 people in Turkiye and Syria has received a severe backlash online for its insensitivity.

French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon captioned “drawing of the day” and showing collapsed buildings and piles of rubble with “earthquake in Turkiye” written on top and “no need to send tanks” at the bottom, sparking outrage on social media as well as criticism from journalists.

Many deemed the cartoon “racist” and “vile,” condemning it for mocking the pain of thousands of innocent victims.

“Just vile, racist, and immensely insensitive,” tweeted Islamophobia scholar Khaled Beydoun.

“It is really disgusting to make fun of the suffering of others and far from the ethics of journalism, assuming it sticks to it, and I doubt it,” wrote Abdulla Al-Amadi in a tweet.

Lebanese journalist Giselle Khoury described the cartoon as “shameful,” demanding the magazine explain how this constituted “freedom of expression.”

Rana Abi Jomaa, also a Lebanese journalist, wrote that “there are no limits to Charlie Hebdo’s racism,” wondering “who would defend this abhorrent satirical French magazine after today?”

“Charlie Hebdo is faithful to its famous hate speech, bigotry, mediocre unethical journalism and colonialist scorn,” wrote Tunisian journalist Mourad Teyeb. “Nothing to do with press freedom!”

Khalil Rammal, on social media, denounced the magazine’s “racist” cartoon, namely for “gloating over” the tragedy of thousands.

Challenging the outrageous cartoon, Ouissal Harize shared a video of a rescued toddler who lost his family in the catastrophe, and wrote: “This is the tragedy you are mocking.” 

Another user, Shireen Mazari, wrote: “Hatred and Islamophobia at its peak when a natural disaster draws this kind of reaction from Charlie Hebdo! Sickening to the core.”

Commentators recounted the Jan. 7, 2015, attack on Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in Paris, reminding the magazine of its demand for global support under the slogan “Je suis Charlie.”

“Mocking a natural disaster with the death of thousands and the complete destruction of infrastructure in an already fragile state with ‘didn't even need to send tanks’ is everything I need to know about ‘Je suis Charlie.’ Inhumane,” wrote Twitter user Yasmeen.

Political analyst Oznur Sirene reminded the magazine of how many Turks showed solidarity following the 2015 attack, only to be rewarded with mockery.

“Today you dare mock the suffering of an entire people,” she wrote. “One must really have some nerve to do this while there are still babies waiting to be rescued.”

Others condemned the magazine for “having a history of mocking victims of catastrophe,” with several resharing the cartoon that made fun of Italy’s earthquake in 2016.

Charlie Hebdo received a backlash for a cartoon it shared in September 2016 mocking the victims of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Italy at the time. Shortly after, the magazine shared another cartoon demonizing critics.

In January 2016 the magazine published a cartoon making fun of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian child whose body was found on a Greek beach in 2015. 

People in Turkiye and Syria woke up on Monday to a deadly magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which killed more than 11,000 people, according to CNN, and destroyed thousands of buildings.

Syria’s devastated infrastructure and freezing weather conditions are obstructing rescue operations, which have been ongoing since the disaster struck.


Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye
Updated 08 February 2023

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye

Twitter restricted in quake-hit Turkiye
  • Platform has been widely used to seek help and establish personal contact
  • Turkish authorities have limited access to social media during previous national emergencies

LONDON: Twitter is facing restrictions in Turkiye as the country struggles to deal with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, sources reported.

Independent global internet monitor NetBlocks confirmed that the social media platform has been restricted on multiple network providers, including TTNet and Turkcell, on Wednesday.

“Real-time network data show Twitter has been restricted in Turkiye,” Netblocks said in a tweet.

“The filtering is applied on major internet providers and comes as the public come to rely on the service in the aftermath of a series of deadly earthquakes.”

Twitter is widely adopted in the country and its restriction disrupts critical communication for rescue efforts.

NetBlocks Director Alp Toker said that this is the first time the company detected social media restrictions during a natural disaster.

“Twitter has been in use extensively in the aftermath of the earthquakes, both to seek assistance and rescue equipment and by those trying to get back in touch with loved ones,” Toker said.

Turkish authorities have not given any formal explanations, but NetBlocks said that Turkiye often acts to prevent alleged disinformation during national emergencies.

In November, following a terrorist attack in central Istanbul that killed six people and injured more than 80, authorities imposed a 10-hour social media ban.

Some users also reported that TikTok might have been affected by the restrictions.

In a statement, the video-sharing app said it was aware of the technical difficulties and is “investigating the matter and hope access is restored as soon as possible as platforms like TikTok remain a critical way to stay in touch during crises.”

NetBlocks and some Twitter users have reported that users in Turkiye can still access the platforms through VPNs.


Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe
Updated 08 February 2023

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe

Dubai Lynx launches Young Lynx Academy in partnership with Publicis Groupe
  • Hosted over 3 days, program will feature keynote talks, workshops, competition
  • Dubai Lynx festival director Thea Skelton: We are seeing an increasing number of agencies from KSA enter and win at Dubai Lynx

DUBAI: The Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity has launched the Young Lynx Academy in partnership with multinational advertising company Publicis Groupe.

Aimed at mentoring young professionals in the Middle East and North Africa region, the academy will run from March 12 to 14.

Thea Skelton, festival director of Dubai Lynx, told Arab News: “As we know, the region is using creativity as a driving force for growth.

“We are seeing an increasing number of agencies from KSA enter and win at Dubai Lynx and it’s very exciting for us to watch young talent from the Kingdom grow.”

The academy is designed to support young talent within the creative communications sector by offering them a free mentorship opportunity.

Hosted over three days, the program will include keynote talks, workshops, and a 24-hour hack competition involving participants working on a charity brief.

Skelton said: “Creativity is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, and the training and development of young people in this sector is very much a part of this.

“We’re excited to see how young creatives from Saudi Arabia will perform this year and pave the way for many more people from the region to excel,” she added.

The academy will be open to professionals aged 30 or younger who have worked for a minimum of one year in the creative, media, digital, or social sectors in the MENA region. Successful applicants will also receive tickets to attend the festival and Lynx party on March 14.

The deadline for entries is Feb. 27. More details are available on the Young Lynx Academy website at https://www.dubailynx.com/talent-and-training/young-lynx-academy


Meta, nonprofit end US lawsuit over infinity-logo trademark

Meta, nonprofit end US lawsuit over infinity-logo trademark
Updated 08 February 2023

Meta, nonprofit end US lawsuit over infinity-logo trademark

Meta, nonprofit end US lawsuit over infinity-logo trademark
  • Lawsuit by Dfinity Foundation said Meta would cause confusion with its infinity logo

LONDON: Meta Platforms Inc and blockchain nonprofit Dfinity Foundation have resolved Dfinity’s trademark lawsuit against Meta over its infinity-symbol logo, according to a joint filing in San Francisco federal court.

Meta and Dfinity asked the court Monday to dismiss the case with prejudice, which means it cannot be revived.

A Meta spokesperson said Tuesday that the company was “pleased with the outcome of the case.” It said Dfinity had dropped the lawsuit after Meta “pointed out the defects” in its revised complaint.

Representatives for Dfinity did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Switzerland-based Dfinity’s Internet Computer is an “infinite” public blockchain network designed to host smart contracts. Dfinity sued Meta last year, alleging the logo Meta adopted after changing its name from Facebook would cause confusion with Dfinity’s infinity-symbol trademarks.

Meta has described its logo as a “continuous loop” that resembles both the letter ‘M’ and an infinity sign to symbolize “infinite horizons in the metaverse.”

US District Judge Charles Breyer dismissed Dfinity’s original complaint in November but allowed the company to amend the lawsuit. Breyer said Meta’s logo was unlikely to cause consumer confusion, citing differences in the logos’ designs and the fact that Dfinity’s customers are “tech-savvy developers.”

Dfinity filed an amended complaint in December.

Meta is still facing trademark lawsuits from virtual-reality company MetaX and investment firm Metacapital over its name change.