Twitter, Google and OMD: Bringing it home at the Festival of Media MENA | M&M Global

Twitter, Google and OMD: Bringing it home at the Festival of Media MENA

Festival of Media MENA continued with inspiring and invigorating talks, and, as the day went on, they became more and more regionally targeted.



Parminder Singh, managing director of Twitter MENA, Southeast Asia, and India’s gave a captivating talk on ‘A Digital and Traditional Collision’.

Speaking of mobile, he eloquently summarized what consumers are doing on their phones: “If you’re not making a call, you’re either consuming content or creating content.” He emphasised that while everyone says that mobile is the second screen, and television is the first screen, he says this is not the case. Taking a quick audience poll, only one person turns on their TV before turning on their mobile in the morning; everyone else grabs their mobile first.

Singh then moved on to discussing how content should be delivered: “The concept of day-parting is gone, there is no one time during the day that people are more or less receptive your content. Any moment is the best time to day-part: now.” He provided some pro-tips for creating shareable content: use engaging thumbnails, don’t overuse hashtags or other links, and have a clear call to action like “watch now” connected to a video.

Singh explained what he refers to as “content superchargers”: content must be native, integrated with external experience, and relevant in the context of the moment. He elaborated, “All three things have one thing in common, which is harmony.”

Wrought with examples of his best case scenarios for ads that are placed on Twitter, Singh’s discussion theme seemed to be alignment. He posed that in order for content to be amplified by shares, it must be aligned with a current event.

His examples included, Dove’s #Speakbeautiful campaign, which was inspired by the five million negative tweets about their or someone else body or looks that cluttered the Twittersphere in 2014. Dove’s campaign asked people to speak positively about their images during the Oscars. Singh explained that this piece of content was supercharged because of this timing.

And he finished with a shout-out to the consumers, highlighting the need to harness the power of user-generated content: “It’s central to a brands’ presence”. He wrapped up by saying, “Start by listening, once you listen, develop a muscle memory for how to communicate with the people.”

Dig deeper

Starting the day’s second round of sessions, the conversation about digital continues with ‘Unearthing MENA Digital Landscape’. Collaborating in a panel discussion, Lina Habib Naifeh, founder and managing director of Media Blends and Fadi Khater, founder of Netizency, discuss some interesting factors that affect the digital scene in the region.

The regional industry buzz indicates that there is a huge capacity to target consumers in the Saudi Arabian market that has remained wholly untapped. Naifeh’s presentation focused on the Saudi woman consumer, homing in on some very interesting statistics. She specifically noted those that are common misconceptions.

Some examples: 85 percent of Saudi women wish to continue education, 90 percent aspire higher living standard, and 76 percent wish to drive. Naifeh highlighted that the women do not necessarily want to get behind a wheel and drive a car, but they want the freedom associated with the act of driving.

Following this thought, Khater continues discussing the Saudi environment. He provided another figure: in Saudi there is a 20 percent higher conversion rate on mobile than globally. This is a major statistic for m-commerce here because there is a market with the MENA region that is hungry for it.

The point during this discussion was a call to action for the regional media industry, and that is, we must focus on the Saudi market, because currently, we’re missing out. But to do this, we must first understand the market and its diversity.

Tech drives

As a passionate industry member, AOL digital forecaster Shingy moderated the panel on ‘Tech Driven Media Trends’. The conversation played out between Roy Armale, of Cheil Worldwide, Tarek Abdalla from Google, and Waseem Afzal, OMD MENA.

The first item on the agenda was the discussion of cyclical trends. The topic turned to consumers wanting tangible content versus digital content, and panellists argued that it’s cyclical. There have been times where the market has wanted nothing by digital content, and then times when people want to take things from a digital to a more tangible space.

Head of marketing MENA at Google, Tarek Abdalla: “We’ll get to point where the data that wearables are collecting could eventually be part of a programmatic media-buy.”

Shingy posed a question to our panellists: “At the end of the day, media is still media, are we churning around the same thing?” He indicated that there may not be new ideas, just old ideas brought to a relevant environment with new technology.

Contrary to common opinion, “the new stuff isn’t killing the old stuff, the truth is it’s not,” responded Tarek Abdalla. He called the dialogue on the tension that exists between old and new, But he concluded that nothing is actually going away, television is still being used, print is still being used, so it has to be about integration.

Spinning off this idea, Armale said “the technology is going to change, but human nature isn’t”. He proceed to explain the lack of commitment that currently exists regarding technology adoption. He described that by the time we present early adopters with something that is exciting enough for them, the company moves on to something else that’s popped up. His final sentiment was that brands and tech companies need to commit more and avoid chasing each emerging trend.

Referring to them as smarty-pants, Shingy asked our panellists what trends they’re excited about. To which Armale replied, “I was blown away by the initial Google Glass videos, but as a set of people and consumers, we set too high of expectations for technology too quickly.”

He expanded with one issue that worries him about emerging technology: “Sometimes technology can be looked at as something that can enhance the work that we do, and some things can present 1000 more ways to disrupt your day.”

Providing a nice wrap-up on this panel, Afzal drives one over-arching point home: “You’ve got to go back to the basics to enforce what would resonate with the consumers.”

This sentiment can apply throughout the days’ conversation. The best thing we can do, especially with the technology-driven changes to the landscape of media, is to remember that at the end of the day, it’s still media, and it’s still about the consumers.

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