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January 31, 2021





Digital agency and ad tech guide 2021



Glass half full, empty or somewhere in between? It’s a new year, but our message is still the same....

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January 31, 2021


Ogilvy names David Fox as new regional CEO, while Patou Nuytemans is promoted to global growth role WPP network Ogilvy has announced that David Fox will take over from Patou Nuytemans as CEO for Memac Ogilvy in MENA, effective March 1. Based in Dubai, Fox will lead the creative and strategic regional group of 11 agencies in nine countries. The move follows six and a half years for Fox as CEO of Ogilvy Australia. He previously spent 10 years in global client roles with Ogilvy in London. Fox’s predecessor, long-serving senior Ogilvy executive Patou Nuytemans, has been promoted to the position of chief growth officer, growth & innovation for the global creative network. Ogilvy EMEA CEO Paul O’Donnell said: “I’m delighted our dedication to thoughtful, long-term succession planning has positioned us to appoint such a strong and capable leader as David to lead MENA for Ogilvy. David will be an excellent CEO in the region, building on his track record of achieving outstanding business results, his strong oversight of the development of Ogilvy Australia’s digitally led creative strategy, plus his strong values-led leadership.” He added: “I thank Patou for her exceptional leadership in MENA. In the last three and a half years, she has led Memac Ogilvy from strength to strength – financially, operationally

Fox (left) has been CEO of Ogilvy Australia and replaces Nuytemans, who will move to a global role

and reputationally, transforming the regional network into an integrated, efficient, modern marketing agency with an unparalleled new business track record, high client satisfaction and a true talent and people-first culture at heart.” Ogilvy said Fox has a record of growing business and believes strong

cultures create strong companies. Fox said: “I am eager to embark a new chapter in my Ogilvy career in a region that is filled with opportunity. We have amazing talent and unmatched capabilities that set us to continue our position as the longterm growth partner for our clients.” Nuytemans said: “It’s been such a

privilege to be part of a region in the world where ambition, and the ability to convert that ambition, is bigger than anywhere else. I am so proud of the uncountable digital-age ideas in the shape of platforms, campaigns, programs, content, experiences… we developed that built brands and delivered business value and results.”

Anghami moves HQ to Abu Dhabi

CANON MIDDLE EAST TRAILBLAZERS Canon Middle East has launched its ‘Trailblazer’ series. Three bold visionaries who emulate values synonymous with Canon have been cherrypicked from the region to share their journeys The interview series has been launched in conjunction on with the “Create your epic” campaign, which highlights the new EOS R5 and R6 cameras, on which the videos were shot. The Trailblazers are UAE-based singer and songwriter Layla Kardan; the first Saudi Arabian woman and youngest female Arab to climb Mount Everest, Raha Moharrak; and Kuwait’s culinary genius Faisal Al Nashmi. The agency behind the campaign is Shadani Consulting.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) is partnering with music streaming service Anghami, to establish the technology pioneer’s global headquarters and research and development centre in Abu Dhabi. The partnership is part of ADIO’s recently announced $545m Innovation Programme. Anghami was established in Lebanon in 2012 as the first music streaming platform in MENA and has since built a market-leading platform, offering more than 50 million songs to more than 70 million users. It has offices in Beirut, Dubai, Cairo and Riyadh, and is poised for further success, having recently completed a funding round led by investment platform Shuaa Capital to help drive its growth ambitions. Anghami co-founder Eddy Maroun called Abu Dhabi “a natural choice for our new global headquarters and R&D centre”.


January 31, 2021

FP7 McCann retains Emirates NBD and wins Talabat and The National accounts FP7 McCann is celebrating a series of succesful pitches at the start of 2021. The Middle East Communications Network creative agency has retained Emirates NBD bank, as well as winning food delivery service Talabat and Abu Dhabi newspaper The National. FP7 McCann successfully retained the Emirates NBD account following a “highly competitive” pitch process involving five other network agencies. The partnership between FP7 and the bank started back in 2009, following the merger of National Bank of Dubai and Emirates Bank International. Moadh Bukhash, chief marketing officer at Emirates NBD, said: “FP7 McCann has once again stood out for their passion, creativity and skill through a rigorous pitch process. Their dedication to the Emirates NBD brand has consistently delivered clear outcomes, and we are delighted to continue working together to create meaningful impact within the communities we serve.” The pitch for Talabat was also against five other other network agencies. FP7 says it will get to work straight away executing a calendar of regionally focused integrated campaigns as well as providing ongoing strategic consultancy. Jon Marchant, FP7 McCann Dubai’s

FP7’s first campaign for The National tackles the newspaper’s UAE relaunch

managing director, said: “I think a special mention should be given to the client team’s approach to finding the right strategic and creative partner, opting for credentials and strategy response, rather than the usual fully-fledged creative executions. This was both refreshing and respectful.” FP7 has also been appointed by Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National. The agency has kicked off with a

campaign for The National’s UAE relaunch, tackling the global presence of the publication with the headline ‘The World Has Borders, Our Stories Don’t’. This will be followed with local and regional campaigns on both above-the-line and digital. Mireille Puskulian, The National’s head of marketing, said: “We have big plans for the future, and look forward to celebrating more milestones with the FP7 McCann Dubai team.”

Create wins VW Middle East

Indie digital communications agency Create Media Group has been appointed to handle the social media accounts for Volkswagen Middle East. The agency will be leading content production, paid media and social media management to support the Volkswagen brand and business across GCC markets, Jordan and Lebanon. Volkswagen Middle East will bring several product launches to the region in 2021, develop new and existing brand partnerships and focus on supporting the dealer network. Create will support VW in its vision to ‘move people forward’ through a social approach that will create positive impact within the community. Anja Petrovski, marketing director for Volkswagen Middle East, said: “The Create Media team’s vision and passion is impressive… We are excited to be working with this team and look forward to the months ahead.”



Visa, Emirates NBD and Emaar wanted to reach shopping lovers with an acquisition campaign for the U by Emaar credit crd. Horizon FCB didn’t want just to tell people about the U by Emaar credit card; they wanted to create excitement and grab attention. So in the Dubai Mall they launched UTap, a technology-driven, high-energy, point-scoring, reactivitytesting game. Gamers were given giant U by Emaar credit cards and challenged to run, jump and tap as many super-sized card machines as possible – scoring UPoints, winning vouchers and getting the chance to win a 1 million UPoint grand prize.

Shot by Camouflage Productions and director Rodrigo Valdes, this film merges both fantasy and real worlds as it takes us on a journey through Mars in the imaginary world of our main characters. The film was shot in the UAE and was crafted in detail in order to get the epic scenery required while taking into consideration the amount of post production work that was to be included in the film. Camouflage said: “With our fantastic postproduction partners, we were able to build the world of Mars – including tornadoes, sand storms and the creation of the whole Mars universe.”

Agency Horizon FCB General manager Reham Mufleh ECD Rodrigo Leal Rodrigues Associate CD Rodrigo Scapolan Senior copywriter Lucy Elder Head of creative services & production Hicham Soubra Senior video editor Anthony Heneine Designer Sinto Anto Production House FLC

Director Rodrigo Valdes DOP Kenji Katori Executive producer Dania Salha Quaglio Post-production producer Khalid Jabaly Production house Camouflage Productions Agency TBWA/RAAD

January 31, 2021


Choueiri Group announces CG Digital arm and senior management changes Regional advertising representation company Choueiri Group has announced a new digital division and leadership changes. The Group has started to channel investments into four key areas: content and creative; e-commerce; performance and data; and consultation and servicing. Together with the group’s digital arm, DMS, these divisions will become a “seamlessly consolidated single operation”, CG Digital. The initiative will be spearheaded by Michel Malkoun, who will transition from being chief operating officer (COO) of DMS to chief growth officer on a group level of CG Digital. DMS, meanwhile, will fall under the leadership of Ziad Khammar as COO. He will also continue to lead Choueiri’s content division, Spread. “As our industry continues to face rapid changes, the need to adopt agility becomes more important than ever before,” said group chairman and CEO Pierre Choueiri in a statement. “At Choueiri Group, we have remained focused over the last decade on establishing the full potential of our digital arm, DMS. While our efforts have succeeded in injecting a new culture across the

Group – where the knowledge and appreciation of digital has been instilled across all of our functions, companies, and regions – we now need to push even further ahead. “While publisher representation remains at the core of what we do, our positioning needs to be extended to capture the accelerating market shifts caused by the recent economic, political, and pandemic crises. As leaders in the media representation space, we take pride in reacting swiftly to remain relevant to our industry and strengthen our value proposition. “Traditionally, brand building has served as the main driver of our industry. But today, performance has become equally important. This is evident from the rise of e-commerce, which has surged as a result of the pandemic. This transformation will only continue to become more prevalent into the future.” Choueiri Group used to represent the region’s largest broadcaster, MBC, until the Saudi media company announced last year it would be taking its media sales in-house. Michel Malkoun started out 25 years ago as an ad agency junior. Over the years since, he has managed more than 10 markets across MENA. While

Michel Malkoun will move from COO of DMS to chief growth officer of CG Digital

representing Choueiri Group, he has served as the co-founder of key organisations including the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Mobile Marketing Association in MENA. Ziad Khammar has spent the last 20 years working in the digital media and business space. He joined Choueiri Group in 2012 and has

played various roles in advancing the Group’s digital capabilities. Having served alongside Michel Malkoun for the past 10 years, he has been instrumental to the growth of DMS. He recently led the launch of the fast-growing content recommendation and native ad network Spread.



Kaya Skin Clinic Middle East’s campaign ‘What’s your Beautiful?’ aims to bridge the gap between the new-age bold woman’s version of beauty and social judgements. It is focused on giving women the power to choose how they want to look and to be fearless in the face of labels or judgements by society. Whether it’s taking advantage of technology or advanced beauty solutions, every woman has the power to restore, preserve and enhance her essential vitality and pursue what will make herself feel beautiful. The agency behind the campaign was Momentum.

The first destination brand campaign for AlUla, the heritage and culture centrepiece of Saudi Arabia, has been developed by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) with creative partners Leo Burnett. It includes a 90-second film directed by cinematographer Bruno Aveillan and a suite of digital assets under the concept of ‘The World’s Masterpiece’. “The World’s Masterpiece is a play on both the skilful artistry of ancient civilisations who carved elaborate artworks into the rocky outcrops, as well as the pure and unspoilt beauty of the geological rock formations and landscapes sculpted by nature,” said Phillip Jones, chief destination management and marketing officer, RCU.

January 31, 2021




Dana Sarkis, General manager of Hearts & Science, identifies the five dominant technological advances that could make or break brands in a post-pandemic world


he unpredictability of 2020 has forced us to become cautious predictors when looking to forecast the future of the media and marketing industry. Yet one thing is for certain: The speed at which technology is advancing is not slowing down. The acceleration of tech development is challenging the marketing world and putting it through various tests of endurance. In fact, it can be said that technology is advancing faster than the rate of knowledge and tool capacity. Enter 2021, and we are witnessing the fastest game of catch-up we have ever seen. Covid hasn’t necessarily created any new shifts, but instead augmented the speed of adoption of several floating business concepts such as remote, digital transformation, and e-commerce enablement. Marketers who are able to harness new and emerging technologies can implement faster, provide more efficient go-to-market strategies and, as a result, attract a wider and global customer base. It has taken us a long time to reach this point of technology adoption. 2020 was only the beginning for brands as they quickly understood if they didn’t take a firm grip on digital marketing technologies it could mean make or break in the face of a pandemic. This was just the beginning, and the challenge will increase now that the tech flood gates have opened. The need to continuously evolve, adopt and upskill your marketing capabilities is only building momentum. We concluded 2020 with a tech audit to identify what would be the five key building blocks to protect, defend and build business growth for our clients in the new year.

The five topics we identified to be the dominant factors were: privacy, tech & design, analytics, ML/AI and remote.


Privacy will challenge the ad world as we know it in 2021. You only need to look to Apple and its newly embedded privacy pillar in its 2021 marketing strategy and its $2 trillion valuation response from shareholders and consumers to recognise how significant a player privacy is going to be this year. In addition, 2021 will be the final year of the cookie. The impact this will have on the marketing value chain will be detrimental in challenging the norms of targeting, optimisation and tracking unless collaboration on the unification of IDs is established across publishers and marketers. In turn, marketers will need to make sure that they develop seamless, beneficial and reciprocal experiences for their customers to voluntarily opt-in to share their data for greater personalisation. Furthermore, publishers will need to focus on great content as a hook to a subscription-based model. This is a trend we have seen over the past couple of years as more subscription-based platforms shift away from the advertising model. Lastly, expect to see the ramp-up of government regulations around big tech. 2020 witnessed some of the most aggressive hearings against the big four and talk continues to increase around breaking them up. If history repeats itself, we could be looking at another splitting of big business like AT&T in the 1980s and the attempt against Microsoft in the early 2000s. With the rate at which privacy matters are escalating and the conversations around them

January 31, 2021

concerning ethics and safety are building, be sure to be include a privacy pillar in your marketing strategy, sooner rather than later.


If there is one thing we have learned from observing winning digital-first businesses like Uber, Airbnb, or Netflix, it is the level of focus and emphasis they place upon improving their customer experience. We see them in a constant mode of innovation and improvement, tailoring their brand experiences to suit the needs of their customers. As brands move towards replicating successful models and learning from the market leaders, we see UX/UI leaving its position at the long tail of the digital transformation journey. Ultimately, the sole purpose is to build brands that fulfil user needs through efficient and effective interactions. Companies that wish to stay ahead of the curve need to institutionalise audits and make it a recursive process. Audits are essential to vetting current partners and technologies and scouting the next big thing. In addition, with 40 per cent of businesses ranking CX as a top priority for digital transformation, expect UX/UI-oriented roles to rise in demand and prominence. This will in turn add to the exponential speed of tech advancements in CX-centralised tools and solutions.


The talk about big data that has taken the limelight in the past couple of years has recently been overshadowed by simpler and more relatable concepts around data centralisation and usability. Marketers have come to understand that for any analytics project to be performed, no matter how simple or complex, the main prerequisite is for the data to be clean, organised and centralised for ease of accessibility. The depth and the breadth of the data will always remain important in carrying out advanced analytics projects, especially when we talk about first-party data and ID-level data. This kind of data capture requires a reciprocal value exchange between parties. This applies to the exchange between a brand and an end user or two distinct brands in making sure the transactional value of the exchange adds business value and enriches the user experience. Thanks to the pandemic, two key trends have accelerated: First, the focus on tailored CRM systems and connecting that to the full marketing ecosystem stack. Marketers have started stitching their direct and indirect marketing channels together to minimise redundancy in communication, reduce the impact of message fatigue on end customers, and provide more value to their customers through personalised loyalty programs. Second, the emphasis on “applied cloud solutions” wherein the requirements do not stop at finding a solid cloud partner but more on the kind of user applications that are overlaid on top of that solution that the marketer can have access to. It has become

‘‘For any analytics project to be performed, no matter how simple or complex, the main prerequisite is for the data to be clean, organised and centralised for ease of accessibility.” evident to marketers that tech partners that have an ‘open source’ solution are the easiest to work with as they are agile, connected and transparent. Tech partners need to plug in to several other different kinds of tech partners in order to provide the most value to the end users – who in this case are the marketers. In today’s landscape clients need to have easy access, they need to understand what data they are working with and be able to have one connected dashboard. These two trends are going to increasingly become available to marketers, fast developing their understanding and ability to build disproportionate growth for their brands.

engagement has opened the doors for a wider access to talent that could potentially be working from anywhere across the world. This in turn poses an opportunity to create our ideal notion of the office of the future where recruitment is more solution-based and modular. Team structure will become more agile as resources shift according to business or project needs. This will create a new rise in offshoring and, even more stimulating to any business and economy, partnerships. As marketers look for solutions and transformation, agencies and technology teams will forge partnerships.


Marketers who have the attitude and brands who have the culture to identify, understand and adopt tech at speed will win in 2021. Here are few pointers to help navigate the upcoming five changes we will experience this year:


Machine learning and artificial intelligence are also by no means new concepts, yet we’ve seen rapid advances in their applications as well as their impact on businesses and sectors at scale. The time is finally here when we will have a real feel for the application of algorithm scripting to solve a marketing problem and even reach a business target. That is definitely beyond how we’ve witnessed the big players such as Google and Facebook using these technologies across targeting, optimisation and measurement. For tech companies, ML/AI is more of a foundational layer by design. Netflix and Spotify are good examples of how ML is used to understand user preferences and decode that into an assortment of content choices. Marketers undergoing a transformation will start harnessing code scripting to improve their customer experiences across not only their digital assets such as websites, apps and chatbots, but also in physical stores, call centres and maybe even going a step further into developing ML scripts for existing tech like CRM. As a direct consequence of this upcoming use case, the selection of talent and partners based on traditional merit won’t suffice. The marketing ecosystem will need to start building talent pools and partner relations with those who can creatively solve business challenges by thinking in pseudo language, and fast.


Our final accelerated transformation is remote, which also means the flexibility to work from anywhere. Remote has been a forced experiment that turned out to work well for most companies, transforming talent, partnerships, and competition. The reduced reliance on physical space


1. Develop a data-driven strategy to increase opt-in customer data collection. 2. Relook at your business model and see where you can increase customer convenience by adding recurring revenue through subscriptions.

Tech & design

1. Institutionalise tech audits as part of a recursive process in your ecosystem. 2. Invest in talent and partnerships that help your business better understand UX/UI.


1. Focus on ensuring that the right data is being collected and is at the closest point to activation. 2. Use cloud to its full potential, invest in a CRM system and develop analytics that work for your business.


1. Think of how your business can benefit from ML/AI for greater usage or product recommendation. 2. Recruit and work with teams that understand platforms and code.


1. Re-design your company structure and processes for a remote-friendly world. 2. Don’t limit your partners geographically; go global for best service and cost. By Dana Sarkis, general manager, Hearts & Science



January 31, 2021


ADVERTISING AGENCIES Balance, customer experience and a deeper embrace of new technologies are among the developments TBWA’s Noah Khan foresees for 2021


ast year was incredibly challenging for all of us. It surely was not the year any of us had planned for or predicted. The devastating loss of lives, heart-breaking images of hospitals overrun and struggling to cope and the impact on communities were all a constant reminder that life as we knew it had changed. This led many of us to take a long hard look at our lives, evaluate our priorities and understand what is really important.

with more people choosing to come into the industry from more varied backgrounds. This will develop greater purpose at an organisationwide level, which will help attract growth. More organisations are going to focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of their people, some even enforcing greater downtime for better health and productivity. Creativity will increase, and there are countless studies showcasing this.

This leads to my first prediction for 2021:



Our industry is fuelled by incredible creative minds coming together to challenge conventions and build the exceptional. Burning the midnight oil to crack an idea is exhilarating; a group of very smart people aimed at solving a problem, an intellectual team sport. However, over the past few years we have become an industry where everyone is on all the time. I see our industry, like many others, resetting this year – a great many people wanting to spend more of their time on the things that matter to them apart from work. This will lead to greater distribution of work, far more adaptability and a rise in workplace mobility. Flexibility will have a far-reaching impact on our industry. The attraction and retention of talent will see a marked increase,

Agencies will embrace automation even more. The technological advancements across platforms and tools will allow more work to be automated and free-up valuable time for us to focus on the truly important things. Augmented agency models will start to leverage more AI and machine learning in building workflows, supported by recommendation engines with far faster feedback loops that are constantly analysing, helping drive direction and course correction where needed. Agency agility will increase tremendously, enabling us to be what our clients need us to be in any particular moment. This way of working will also lead to better integration and a blurring of discipline lines, helping foster much richer output with far fewer hand-off points. These new structures will provide tremendous insight and value to clients as well, enabling them to have a constant view of performance and results, and therefore driving business intelligence. Agency augmentation will also allow for a far greater, wider talent pool that is able to come together and create without geographical limitations. Imagine being able to bring in the best of your global talent to contribute to the work that you do.


We have always been a people business. The relationships we have with our clients are what allow us to build great

Disruptions and change industry landscapes. Having a credible business partner is going to be more and more demanded by clients in the year ahead. They will want to work with agencies committed to mutually beneficial relationships that lead to transformative growth, rather than executional ones. Proactivity is the modus operandi for a true partnership, constantly looking for how we grow our client’s future instead of focusing on campaigns alone.


A seamless end-to-end is going to separate the successful brands from the rest. Agencies are going to play a very prominent role in bringing this to life. Customer experience will be key in attracting and retaining brand loyalists and increasing advocacy. An agency that is unable to develop this for its clients will struggle to remain competitive. The pandemic has accelerated the move to digital channels; customers have become used to expecting zero friction from being able to search, investigate and complete their intended actions with ease. Any brand that expects its customers to change their flow to fit its own won’t see much growth. The need to have more ways in which to discover, engage – through AR and digital-first content – will become paramount. The increase in data speeds through technologies such as 5G and wifi 6 as well as device capabilities is going to provide brands with more freedom to create rich and detailed experiences that were limited before. The ability to leverage conversational marketing models throughout the journey to provide as much information as needed and create real engagement will lead to greater customer satisfaction. Last year taught us all that predictions are just that. It also taught us about the power of innovation – companies that were able to adapt and change were able to accelerate their growth through difficult times. Redefining the market and not the marketing is expected of agencies and we have to do everything we can to deliver. By Noah Khan, regional president of digital and innovation – CEE, Africa and Middle East – TBWA & DAN

‘‘Agency augmentation will allow for a far greater, wider talent pool that is able to come together and create.”

January 31, 2021


n December of 2019, as we all looked forward to the new year and had begun anticipating upcoming trends that would change or affect 2020, a news story that was getting increased visibility originated around 5,000 km to the east in China. On January 30, 2020, Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic and, as of March of the same year, the world would undergo a lockdown that would change the way we live and experience life for the foreseeable future. At the outset of every year, we reflect upon the previous 12 months to envision a path forward for the coming 12. In the closing of 2019, I foresaw the growing influence of and dependence on data as a means of bringing back the emphasis on people, not products and services. Little did I or anyone know that though our projections were true, they would not be validated the way we expected them to be. 2020 was explicitly about human experiences, challenges, and alternative journeys in the wake of Covid-19. Though we collectively, in the industry and across sectors, were forced to adjust to new machinations and evolve overnight, what rang loudest across the year was the power of

‘‘People are veering, now more than ever, towards content that is aimed at the greater good.” continue to do so, actively altering the playing field for promotions and marketing machinations. The pandemic certainly changed some perceptions, but people are veering, now more than ever, towards content that is aimed at the greater good or that highlights brands’ corporate social responsibility more than their products and services. On the other hand, the pandemicaccelerated digital changes will remain the way of working for most industries throughout 2021. With the pandemic still largely a concern, the remote-work model will

marketing spectrum, but with a twist: More marketers and communication practitioners will be seeking to associate with key opinion leaders. Influence and visibility will still play prominent roles, but experience and subject relevance will take precedence as brands pursue authenticity and integrity in gaining their desired traction to set new records for 2021 and beyond. One of the questions I’ve been getting quite often now is if 2021 will see a return to a normal state of marketing. The answer is a bit more nuanced than a quick yes or no. Yes, because we do expect things to normalise, and no because we are adapting to utilising new tools that surpass what we depended on over the past couple of years. This means that while the DNA of marketing might not change, its attitude and overall aims for brands will. The need has been slowly shifting from self-promotion to communicating personalised messages to target audiences, from selling more products to connecting people to a brand story, and from ‘we, the brand’ to ‘we, the community'. Ahmad Itani is founder and CEO of Cicero & Bernay Public Relations and chairman of PRCA MENA


PR AGENCIES 2021 is set to be a year of constant change, writes Ahmad Itani of C&B and PRCA MENA hope in unison and the intrinsic adaptability of the human spirit. One of the major adaptations that was noted this year in PR, and communications as a whole, was an increased focus on brand value and social responsibility. Much, if not all, brand-focused PR tactics that put the brand above all were rendered redundant by the pandemic. As 2020 progressed, stakeholders were stepping away from product placements and promotions, turning their attention towards user-generated content that was being embraced and encouraged by brands, irrespective of their product or service. In effect, the brands that reaped the most positive results in 2020 were those that read the room and allowed things to roll out autonomously. Customers acknowledged the nod and were more likely to support brands that put their offerings on the backburner to make way for human stories and experiences that the world was very much interested in finding out about. Moving ahead in 2021, advertisements and brand communication will continue to have a major focus on the value of user-generated content, turning seemingly independent content creators into brand ambassadors. This is a trend that may not have been a novel concept in 2020, but it took centre stage and will

maintain its validity for marketing, brand and corporate communications, and PR firms. Hyper-personalisation will become even more of a norm, especially with the increasing influence and impact of predictive analysis and data science that businesses will be adapting to and adopting even when things go back to the pre-pandemic normal. In fact, of the disruptions that shook the industry over the past few years, innovations in programmatic machinations are now front and centre, defining the path forward for communication ecosystems and becoming a fast-adopted and deployed concept that is changing the way we share content. However, though a number of prominent conglomerates are reconsidering their explicit reliance on programmatic technology in search of even more streamlined marketing tactics, it is still the most precise method to target audiences of interest by way of machine learning and artificial intelligence optimisation, ensuring that published content explicitly reaches desired demographics. Another trend that will find even healthier regional footing will be a strengthening of the podcast culture, as creating in-depth listener identities and defining target customers more precisely will remain one of the focuses to come. Influencers will also still dominate the



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EXPERIENCE Brands will move beyond customer experience (CX) to the business of experience (BX), writes Accenture’s David Fregonas


xperience is everything in today’s day and age. Well, it’s a mindset to explore different experiences, to be exact. Every single experience – how and what people buy, how and where they work, and how they interact with others – has been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. And these new behaviours are set to remain for the long haul. 77 per cent of CEOs agree that they will have to fundamentally change how they interact and engage with their customers, based on Accenture’s research in a forwardlooking new report, “The Business of Experience (BX)”. While a focus on customer experience (CX) has traditionally been based on transactions with customers, the new way of working – and one that is finding growing traction with the C-suite, is to be led by experiences. We call this new holistic approach – which is becoming a business imperative – the business of experience (BX). Furthermore, consumer expectations of companies are also undergoing a shift. Today, the retailer and the manufacturer – along with the business world at large – are in the business of experience. BX is not specific to a function or workstream, but rather is a new fundamental way of working and a mindset shift that gives the entire organisation – all the way from the CEO down to the smallest member of the supply chain – a North Star. That is to create experiences that make the lives of customers more meaningful and rewarding. More evolved than CX, BX is a holistic approach that allows organisations to become customer-obsessed and reignite growth. Whereas CX was limited to the chief marketing officer’s (CMO’s) or chief operating officer’s (COO’s) purview, BX is on top of the agenda in the board room as a CEO priority because it aligns with every aspect of a company’s operations. According to our research, companies that are customer-obsessed and reimagine their business through delivering exceptional experiences centered around a purpose and enabled by innovation are much more likely than their peers to see the highest levels of sustained growth and weather future periods of upheaval.   In addition, the research shows that

leading companies (companies that are performing well independently in terms of financial growth and business cycle endurance) think about and act on customer experience differently from their competitors. These leading companies are far more likely to take the following approaches with regard to BX, enabling them to outperform their peers consistently. Through building a BX imperative, each company will need to reorient its organisation and find new ways to offer meaningful experiences to customers who are also grappling with several of the same challenges. Some of these are:     1. Becoming customer-obsessed: Customer needs will likely continue to evolve, often unpredictably, beyond the fallout from the pandemic. To address these needs, companies should invest in uncovering unmet customer requirements – both big and small. The research found that leading companies are twice as likely as others (55 per cent, compared with 26 per cent) to affirm that they can translate customer data into tangible action. However, several of these same leaders say that there are limitations to their data and what they can do with it. That’s why it is imperative to be truly customerobsessed. Companies need to find better ways to dig deep and identify these needs.

2. Making experience innovation an everyday habit: Our research further indicates that leading companies are better prepared to benefit from an opportunity to innovate at scale. This is because they are more than twice as likely to demonstrate the agility to pivot towards new models that deliver value and relevance to their customers when compared with their peers.

3. Expanding the experience remit across their organisation: Experience is not

the responsibility of just the CMO or COO — it’s everybody’s business. From the C-suite down, every employee and business component should be seamlessly linked and collaborate, functioning as one cohesive, customerobsessed unit focused on moving towards the North Star: delivering the best customer experience.

4. Syncing the tech, data and human agenda:

Becoming an experience-focused business is not about investing more but investing differently. Leaders redirect data, tech and people to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies. These efficiencies can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth. Among leaders, 61 per cent said their company has a clear view of which technology platforms they need to leverage to remain competitive and relevant, compared with only 27 per cent of their peers. Finally, there is no question about it; BX will become the gold standard. This is a significant mindset shift. We believe that it will be an incredible engine for meaningful disruption, market differentiation and customer satisfaction, leading to continuous and sustained growth over the years. By David Fregonas, Accenture Interactive lead, Middle East

January 31, 2021



he myth that augmented reality (AR) is little more than dog ears and rainbow vomit is evaporating fast. Consumerfirst marketers and agencies are realising the use cases for AR go well beyond fun and entertainment. Through AR-led campaigns on Snapchat, many brands are experiencing first-hand: 1. How versatile, capable and accessible the technology is; 2. The unprecedented engagement at scale AR offers; 3. Impressive, tangible return on ad sales and brand-lift results. Along with some of the brightest minds in marketing and innovation, in 2021, we predict AR will establish itself as one of the most powerful ways to connect and communicate with consumers across the Middle East and North Africa. Just to give a sense of the magnitude: In the MENA region, Snapchat’s monthly addressable reach has grown 38 per cent year over year, up to a community of 67 million unique Snapchatters. More than 85 per cent of MENA Snapchat’s daily active users interact with AR Lens experiences every day. This proves how AR is now a normalised daily behaviour for millions of potential customers, offering a huge opportunity for brands and savvy marketers to reshape their storytelling, and rethink how they connect and engage with consumers. 2021 will be the year when AR goes beyond helping brands celebrate a moment with consumers or launch a new product in a way that’s interactive and participatory, and becomes an always-on strategy being deployed to help remove frictions in the customer experience, both online and in-store – thereby short-circuiting the traditional purchase journey and moving customers from browsers to buyers in the moment. When online, 3D products in AR can help bring an entire product catalogue and standard website to life and allow a shopper to see the product in all its glory, in their own home or even on their own feet. When in-store, AR provides brands the opportunity to engage and entertain shoppers if they need to wait or if they want to learn more, with persuasive cross- and up-sell opportunities. It enhances the overall brand experience, strengthening the chances of winning at every key point along the customer journey. Perhaps the most exciting part about AR, certainly from an advertising effectiveness point of view, is that the interaction is entirely voluntary – consumers are engaging with brands because they want to. They’re choosing to actively participate in the branded AR Lens experience, rather than simply passively viewing a branded message. Video adverts popping up mid-video or in the middle of a social feed simply don’t offer this type of opt-in brand interaction, which as a result means advertising via AR Lenses is much more likely to garner positive consumer affinity – whether the goal of

THE CAMERA 2021 will be the year AR moves mainstream, predicts Snap’s Vishal Badiani

‘‘The most exciting part of AR from an advertising point of view is that interaction is entirely voluntary.”

2. AR Lens experiences will join agencies’ campaign asset lists alongside traditional advertising formats, because they are entirely opt-in, drive real engagement, build advocacy, enhance performance and reach highly valuable audiences. 3. Form, function and purpose are often cited as key factors that affect and influence consumer purchase decisions. Advertisers will also start to look beyond pure function and efficiency – they will start to evaluate the form and purpose of the media owners with whom they invest. Do they share the same values around privacy and authenticity? Do they have a community that really cares about the platform?

the Lens experience is to drive reach, time spent with brand or shareability. This is a truly unique and powerful ad format that marketers can now leverage for almost any marketing objective, with almost guaranteed engagement at mass scale.

To sum up, with engagement from such a diverse audience and almost limitless scope, AR is very much a current medium that should be considered a mainstay of marketing in 2021. If your agencies aren’t proposing AR for your 2021 briefs, it’s time to ask why. There are clear use cases, tangible commercial impact, and a relatively simple idea-tomarket path to prove it, all of which elevate AR from being a technology for tomorrow into an opportunity for today.

We see this fuelling three major shifts that we anticipate in 2021: 1.Brands, agencies and marketers rethinking how they evaluate digital media, moving towards quality interactions. We need to find a way to better measure meaningful attention, to supplement CPMs and CPIs.

By Vishal Badiani, creative strategy lead for MENA at Snap Inc



January 31, 2021

fraud rates remaining static around 25-30 per cent, similar to 2019. Advertisers will increase their digital market spending to drive D2C and increased reliance on e-commerce.

User-generated content for advertising: UGCplatform advertising will grow in 2021 and beyond as it offers an engaging and digitally active audience. However, being an unregulated channel, it has a high risk of brand safety issues, which brands need to monitor, manage and control in real time. Though there are basic guidelines that users have to conform to, the control mechanism isn’t very strong or vigilant.



Dhiraj Gupta from mFilterIt shares his brand safety predictions for 2021


021 will be the year of helping organisations to streamline their digital operations. It will keep digitally evolved brands busy with solving brand safety issues and combating ad fraud. The main issue they will risk is of brand infringement, as fraudsters want to leverage their brand equity and trick legitimate audiences. Below are some of the trends we predict in ad fraud and brand safety:

Direct-to-consumer: D2C poses an increasing challenge of brand infringement, as fraudsters can lure genuine users to a parallel fake digital world in disguise. Restructuring for D2C means bringing the entire business process over to digital, where a user can connect, communicate and do commerce with the brand directly. This opens up the chance of ad-fraud techniques being used for business fraud, where fraudsters could siphon off millions through potential partners besides end customers. Regionalisation of digital marketing: The present tools are mostly English-friendly and can perform content analysis of the English language. However, with brands using digital to reach out to all target groups, they will be leveraging regional

content mediums for higher engagement and effectiveness. This means, with present brand safety solutions in place, advertisers will have very feeble control to uphold the reputation of their brands. Also, with increasing D2C sentiments, brands will have to gain early control of brand reputation as new users will potentially come through regional engagement, and will be difficult to reconvince if they notice a brand safety issue during their first exposure.

Increase in ad-fraud and brand safety issues:

As brands reboot in 2021 and push their spending levels up, the dollars they lose to ad fraud and brand safety will increase in absolute terms. This will be despite the ad

‘‘As brands push their spending up, the dollars they lose to ad fraud will increase in absolute terms.”

Privacy will provide a veil for ad fraud: With a cookie-less environment and IDFA, fraudsters will be able to ‘hide’ ad fraud behind the veil of privacy and data security measures being taken to make digital a reliable and trustworthy space. The ad-tracking and ad-measurement techniques will need to be redesigned. With present tracking and measurement techniques becoming redundant, the differentiation between a bot engagement and human engagement will also become challenging for most of the solutions available. Increasing voice for respecting privacy and data integrity could be exploited to veil the fake results achieved through fraudulent engagement. Advertisers will have to be demanding and seek more transparency from their partners and enablers about how their solutions are helping them recognise genuine engagement. DIGITAL ADVERTISING SPEND OUTLOOK

A quick poll done by mFilterIt across the globe suggests that seven out of 10 advertisers have already planned or are contemplating D2C as a strategy. Brands, which can be categorised as two main groups, ‘Digital Novice’ and ‘Digital Mature’, are set to increase their advertising spend in 2021. While Digital Novices started off their journeys by spending a minimum of 20 per cent of their budgets on digital marketing, in 2021 they plan to double this to 40 per cent of their ideal marketing spend. As the learning curve and teething troubles are sorted out by these Novice brands, they will gradually increase the levels. These constitute 30 per cent of the total brands spending over digital. Digital Mature brands had come down to an average of 40 per cent of their former spending levels due to Covid-19, and have been gradually increasing this as the ending of lockdowns favour business sentiment. These brands hope to increase their digital advertising spends by 50 per cent in 2021 taking the levels to 60 of their pre-Covid spending. These brands, already present in the digital space, contribute 70 per cent of the total spend on digital. For both Digital Novice and Digital Mature brands, advertising spend level will increase in 2021 compared with 2020. So even if the ad-fraud rate and the percentage of inefficiencies due to brand safety challenges remain the same, the absolute loss of marketing dollars is set to increase in 2021. By Dhiraj Gupta, co-founder and chief technology officer, mFilterIt

January 31, 2021


ith the media world standing at a turning point, the unprecedented nature of this year has made it even harder to predict the future.

In 2020, we set aside everything we had known, became agile and did our best to become extremely reactive and creative about the solutions we provided for our clients. Our 2021 predictions are therefore guiding steps, aimed at helping you sustain business growth in the coming year, by reaching and connecting with your audiences, clients and stakeholders in more meaningful ways.


Overall the industry’s ad spending will flatten: Ad spend will be maintained as a Covid-19 vaccine is distributed in early 2021. Digital will gain the greater share (48 per cent of the total industry).

TV ad spending will flatten in 2021 after a recovery in 2020: After a continuous decline

(pre-Covid-19), TV recovered and soared in 2020 due to an increase in stay-at-home TV consumption. Regaining its audience attachment, while attracting new viewers, TV’s spend and share will remain stable in 2021.

MENA retail e-commerce sales will reach a new high in the coming two years: With the digital

transformation of the region’s retail sector, e-commerce sales will rise by 80 per cent (from $26.9bn in 2018 to $48.6bn in 2022). The pandemic has played a major role in shaping digital shoppers: 25 per cent of current Saudi online shoppers are new to online. 75 per cent have increased their buying frequency.

E-commerce ad revenue will become the real threat to the digital duopoly: In 2020, Amazon’s

US ad spend surged and grew by 41 per cent to reach $14.55bn (compared with 1.4 per cent for Google and 12.4 per cent for Facebook). The pandemic accelerated this growth as consumers shifted towards online shopping and performance became the go-to KPI for brands’ survival. Amazon is growing across the region and recently opened its Saudi hub, agency and marketplace consultancy, Podean.

touchpoint on campaign performance), marketers and publishers will seek new hybrid measurement solutions, while advertisers will begin incorporating incrementality models into their overall analysis. With Apple’s latest announcement, we will witness this transition taking shape in 2021.

3. CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR Audience behaviours will be more complex and difficult to decipher in 2021. Facing a new audience (the periodical media consumer): The audience that brands

were communicating with during the pandemic will change post-pandemic. The 'periodical media consumer' had non-linear consumption habits, based on seeking entertainment at home. With increased time spent on every single video content platform (TV, VOD, video, etc.) they also became content selection experts in a fragmented media scene. How long will their habits sustain and what implications will they have on media hubs and brands? The new hybrid shopper: Consumers expressed their willingness to continue online shopping (with the exception of a few categories) without dropping offline shopping (part of their culture and daily lives).

Luxury – the rise of the hybrid shopper:

Traditionally driven by brick-and-mortar sales, owing to high product values and personalised shopping experiences, luxury consumers are now shifting to online. The share of dual luxury buyers is predicted to increase postCovid from 8 per cent to 18 per cent in the UAE and from 9 per cent to 22 per cent in KSA, where offline purchases are forecasted to dip down to 47 per cent from 80 per cent.

User experience (UX) – the lungs that sustain digital shoppers: Digitally transformed brands

must create a human connection online to survive. Today’s experienced shoppers will not tolerate any bumps and seek a seamless experience, from search to receiving the product. Within our fragmented landscape, the user experience defines success and retention. By Mathieu Yarak, research director, Choueiri Group


With the GDPR, CCPA, APPI in Japan, and Google planning to phase out support for third-party cookies, plus Apple’s IDFA opt-in overhaul, a new digital era when consumers own their data and decide who gets to use it has begun. Moving forward, we forsee two scenarios: Targeting: More solutions will emerge. Current solutions are still works in progress trying to increase their accuracy and scale. The move to next-generation DMPs, along with multiple identity solutions, which are vital yet have their own challenges (driven by consent independent of third-party cookies and where the main challenge is scale), will become essential for cross-device tracking. Measurement: There will be more pressure on measurement solutions to cope with a cookie-less world. Without third-party cookies (vital for accurate attribution models that enable brands to assess the impact of every



When change is the only constant, predictions arise



January 31, 2021


n 2019 there were 4.9 million brandsponsored influencer posts on social media. In 2020, that estimate rose to 6.12 million and by the end of this year the global influencer economy is predicted to be worth $8bn. And the industry is changing as fast as it’s growing. Barely a week goes by without an Instagram update or influencer marketing development. Which may mean the strategies you have been using won’t necessarily produce the same results for you in 2021. With most brands increasing their spending on influencer marketing, marketers should note these four upcoming trends to ensure they achieve return on their investment.

That’s not to say it will be easy for brands. Instagram will remain as competitive as ever. Only those who can perfect their shopfront – by investing in high-quality content, created to convert – will see big returns.

3. Healthy influence

1. Short-form, big potential

Social users have been obsessed with creating and watching short-form video this year. In April, TikTok reached 2 billion downloads and has seen phenomenal growth across the GCC, with the app ranking among the top downloads in regional Apple and Google Play stores. The subsequent launch of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts (plus persistent competition from Triller and Byte) made 2020 the year of short-form video content. While the platforms battle it out, launching exciting features to lure high-profile creators away from competitors, marketers are really set to benefit. That’s because in 2021 we’ll see creators polish their craft, generating ever more exciting and high-quality short-form videos for their brand partners. We’ll also see more content adaptation, as creators gain a deeper understanding of where different types of content thrive. Meanwhile, marketers won’t need a single platform to win out. They’ll reach different customers and achieve different objectives by taking a creator-first, omni-platform approach – whether that’s TikTok for viral videos, Instagram Stories for tutorials, Reels for entertainment or a combination of all three.


2. Social shopfronts

As Covid-19 has closed stores and accelerated the trend for online shopping (consumers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among the highest rates of “new or increased” users in online deliveries), platforms have been releasing updates that offer brands a social shopfront. Instagram has been steadily investing in social commerce options over the past few years, but its latest redesign shows real intent. It has swapped out the notifications tab for a new Shop Tab, which takes its shopping feature out from the Explore page and into prime position on the home screen. This will undoubtedly increase the number of Instagram shoppers – and sales potential for brands. Consumers have got comfortable shopping online over the past year, so are even more likely to continue in their quest for convenience. 58 per cent now visit a brand’s social media pages before visiting its website, an 81 per cent increase since 2019.

We’re already seeing more and more brands branching into health and self-care themes in a bid to connect with the modern consumer. With the wellness movement accelerating in 2020 – and touching so many individual industries – health-focused influencers will be in big demand in 2021. Brands are looking to add value through partnering with relevant ambassadors who can share valuable tips and tutorials. Relevancy is key here, particularly for brands focusing on themes around mental health. I expect we’ll see brands moving towards a micro influencer approach, partnering with experts in those areas, rather than expensive macro talent who may have the following but not the knowledge. This approach will appeal to marketers still grappling with Covid-cut budgets too. Just be sure to lock them in early.

4. Agile marketing

2020 was a masterclass in responsive marketing. In a matter of weeks the world completely changed, and it seemed unfathomable that campaigns – months in the planning – could go ahead. Marketers have had to think fast and adapt – and there have been some truly inspirational results. Like Gymshark in the UK offering personal trainers unable to work a live slot on their social channels, and Coty replacing in-store makeup testers with a AR try-on lenses in the Middle East. Like any muscle flexed long enough, this agility has strengthened across the sector. While forward planning hasn’t completely gone out of the window, we’re seeing marketers getting more comfortable with short-term, highly relevant and fast-moving campaigns – which will remain a necessity into 2021. By Karl Mapstone, head of Middle East at Vamp

Expect slick short-form video, social commerce and a big focus on wellness and agility in 2021, says Vamp’s Karl Mapstone


January 31, 2021


DIGITAL MARKETING DViO Digital’s Sowmya Iyer examines the shifting paradigms the market will face in 2021


he world has witnessed an extraordinary acceleration of digital adoption across businesses and the daily lives of people. 2020 recorded the highest engagement on digital, e-commerce, OTT, gaming, e-sports and all businesses that are digital first. While this hyper-digitalisation is forcing businesses to realign themselves to the new normal, marketing functions within organisations have the task of quickly stepping up to help put the businesses back on their growth track. The undisputed way forward will be to scale up presence on digital channels. Skew media spends in favour of digital. While this may seem like the right thing to do, if not done right, it can drain resources with very little change in results. Here are the seven most significant shifts I recommend for brands to win at digital marketing in 2021:

1. Developing an integrated and singular brand narrative on digital:

Ever growing platforms, dynamic creatives formats, and advertising options coupled with the need to create content regularly for social media have left brands looking confused. Developing a digital brand identity is not an option anymore. While the identity should honour the fundamentals of building a brand,

it should build in definitions, check points and guardrails for all platforms and content formats on digital.

2. Plan for personalisation

Cookies will be history in 2021. While advertisers have a reason to worry, I see an interesting and perhaps a more powerful alternative, which is opt-in personalisation. Consumers will opt-in for richer and relevant experiences. And brands will need to give them extraordinary experiences. Structure your customer data meaningfully. Use creativity and technology to make it worthwhile for consumers. The data consumers are willing to leave for you will be your biggest asset and biggest responsibility.

3. Build one-on-one conversations and adopt voice search

An essential part of personalisation is conversations. Brands can use both public platforms (social media) and private platforms (messengers) for conversations with consumers. Personalised conversations create value, dial up affinity and have the potential to build powerful brands. The adoption of rule-based or machine learning-based conversations using chatbots across websites, apps and commonly used messenger platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram will become the norm. Another high potential enabler for conversations is voice. Google research has found that 27 per cent of online audiences are already using it in some way. Voice is poised to change the search game, so when you enable your brand for voice search you are preparing the ground to build a personalised relationship and equity with your consumer.

4. Find opportunities for gamification

Nothing will have more impact in digital marketing than finding ways to engage and immerse your audiences– and gamification allows for exactly that. The fact that the growth of gaming has exceeded previous projections owing to Covid-19 multiplies the impact. Options available today are in-game integration, gamified digital experiences using AR, VR and chatbots, and new tech platforms on social media like SparkAR from Facebook and Lens Studio from Snapchat.

5. Invest in immersive storytelling

As 5G becomes commonplace, video will become the preferred content format for

brands. Audio-visual content is by far the most effective form of communication today. It moves, immerses and triggers mirror neurons of empathy. The amount of time spent on Facebook Watch, YouTube and video-first platforms like TikTok stand testimony to this. But for brands to meet the demand for the volume of videos that need to be created, democratisation of video creation is the solution. AV cannot any more remain the privilege of brands with large budgets. While most social media apps have native video capture and DIY edit capabilities built in, the need for automation, technology and AI-enabled video production will be more pronounced in 2021. Facebook’s Oculus is also making fast advances and will open up a whole new dimension of storytelling in VR.

6. Innovate and break the monotony

2021 will be marked by zillions of brands dialing up their digital marketing. Brands already active on digital will step up more aggressively; those moderately present will make digital their main channel; and those who have ignored digital so far will be forced adopt to stay relevant. Innovation for marketers will not be a choice; it will be a necessity. There is likely to be a barrage of communication towards consumers causing information fatigue. Creative strategists should as ask themselves: Is my content adding value in some way to my consumers? One way of doing this every day is to reimagine and play with UX and UI on platforms that you use to communicate.

7. Go beyond digital

It’s imperative to find ways for your communication to go beyond digital and affect the consumer in their daily, physical lives. As marketers it is our responsibility to connect people and humanise the world. It is the social and human fabric of the society that is the very base for any commerce to happen. And this need for encouraging connections is even more pronounced as we recover from the Covid-19 era. With so much digitisation of the world, let’s not forget we are living in a physical world, with real people, real emotions that value touch and care. There has never been a better time to build your brand with pillars of purpose. By Soymya Iyer, founder and CEO of DViO Digital



January 31, 2021


E-COMMERCE The future of e-commerce is already here, but different players are at different stages, says Brand New Galaxy’s Darko Bosiljčić


orking with both global and regional clients, trends and the actual future of e-commerce are rather relative depending on where you are as an organisation. Perhaps the right way to phrase this would be to say, “The future is already here; it’s just not very evenly distributed.” 2020 placed e-commerce at the top of the agenda for obvious reasons. However, not everyone had the same starting point. While some companies already had decent e-commerce operations and were looking into optimising and improving these processes, some struggled to understand the channel. What might be an obvious future for one company might be science fiction for others. There are several ways e-commerce will evolve in this dynamic region:

purchase. And the first moment of truth (FMOT) by the offline shelf is transforming into the e-commerce FMOT (eFMOT) faster than predicted. Welcome to the ‘eFMOT e-commerce real feel’ product videos.


E-retailers should open their walled gardens and allow access to third-party tools, allowing

Many companies will have to take a few steps back and truly rethink the role of e-commerce in their organisation. Do they adopt a direct-to-consumer approach, or focus on marketplaces, social commerce or e-retailers, or is it a mix of all of the above? This should be followed by an evaluation of the right talent, tools and content, along with the right model and finance to operationalise their goals.


Proper product page content can increase the conversion rate by more than 30 per cent; but only around 5 per cent of the products listed are doing it right. This creates an enormous opportunity for many brands. It means creating e-commerce-specific content that tells a brand story and represents the actual product, satisfying people’s need for information at that point of their research or purchase intent. Two major e-commerce content areas at a global level that I believe will pick up in the region are: E-commerce product video: We are in an era of high-quality, fast-moving content driven by e-commerce, vloggers, and specialised YouTube channels. Additionally, the current global situation is pushing e-commerce ahead, which means an increasing number of products will not be physically touched before

Data-driven content creation and optimisation:

Any decent designer can make a good looking e-commerce product page, but that is not enough. With so many sections and elements influencing the page ranking and perception of the brand and its messaging, it is important to apply the appropriate data gathering and strategising of each pixel of that page. It blows my mind that one small tweak of content can increase the conversation rate by double digits. You need data to know what exactly that tweak is and how often you should be making it.


better access to data and resulting in better control over money spent as well as in the overall optimisation of the brands’ presence. It has also been observed that e-commerce automation tools such as Kenshoo, Profitero and Synthrone are already making their way into the market, which can truly make a difference during the full consumer journey across channels. This means companies will be able to choose and build the right tool stack and build custom dashboards for their KPIs. Here’s a reminder, though: companies need to strengthen their e-commerce foundations, the crucial aspect I began with, or these dashboards will be futile.


An increasing number of companies are deciding to engage directly with consumers, approaching them via their own platforms or by accessing marketplaces. This trend will undoubtedly remain in 2021. The main decision companies will have to make is whether to go into full-scale investments and build long-lasting sophisticated platforms, or opt for a mode with easy plug-andplay software as a service (SAAS) solutions platforms, learn, and then scale – or not.


Social commerce will play an even bigger role in 2021, with no exception in our region. It might be the best option for companies with limited operational power. However, it may also serve as a playground for other ones, or may as well be part of a full ecosystem. 2021 will definitely be an opportunity to regroup and rethink the e-commerce approach. Companies need to truly recognise the power of e-commerce, not only by looking at it as a sales channel but also as a tool for shaping brand opinion, driving trials, communication and data-gathering. Needless to say, e-commerce is part of a bigger consumer journey, and to drive growth, e-commerce should be at the centre. People should be only few clicks away from final purchase regardless of where they started the journey, ensuring a coherent path to purchase. By Darko Bosiljčić, business operations director, Brand New Galaxy, MEA


January 31, 2021

Covid-19: The Greatest ‘Digital Accelerant’ of the Decade? In a post-COVID era, many companies have had to embrace digital transformation or accelerate their effort in order to succeed. But what are the implications for marketers?


t is widely acknowledged that 2020 has seen the world change in ways we never imagined. Among others, it has changed the way businesses operate in all sectors and regions. And of all these changes, what stands out most are the changes that have taken place in the area of digital transformation. In a few short months, digital adoption across the board has taken a quantum leap. A survey by McKinsey & Company finds that the response by businesses to Covid-19 has sped up the adoption of digital technologies in several ways. For example, the survey discovered that companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years and have accelerated their share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios by seven years. Similarly, a whopping 97 per cent of enterprise decision-makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation, according to research undertaken by Twilio. For marketers, the focus on understanding consumer behaviour and requirements will continue to be as important in the post-Covid-19 world as it was before. However, many have undergone a sea change, and digital transformation can help address these new behaviour patterns and requirements. Against this backdrop, here are some strategies to help marketers succeed in a post-Covid marketplace:

Creating distinctive and relevant digital experiences: The biggest hallmarks of the pandemic era have been the curtailing of face-to-face interactions, and brick-and-mortar venues being replaced by online where possible. Budgets are being slashed and the goal in general is to do more with less. But, equally, marketers have been able to use digital technology to interact with consumers in new ways and shrink distance, primarily by improving the customers’ digital experience. All too often, during an upturn, the digital experience is taken for granted. And during a downturn, companies tend to become transactional and attempt to extract maximum value without thinking long-term. Post-Covid is a great time to re-design the customer journey effectively. Some points to be considered while doing so: digital experiences must be quick and immersive to engage consumers in emotional and cognitive ways as well as behaviourally. They also need to be timely in providing marketers with access to actionable data on consumer behaviour patterns and should be consistent in look, feel and quality. Moving faster than before: With the growth of digital content, marketers are now expected to produce plenty of it, and very quickly. However, post-Covid, many businesses are having to do so with fewer resources and smaller budgets than before, without compromising on quality of engagement. Marketing teams may also need to own the crafting of the customer journey themselves and depend less on technical teams. While

all of this can undoubtedly put more pressure on teams, the focus on creating new and meaningful digital experiences will ultimately result in brands engaging more creatively with their target audiences. Against the backdrop of current consumer behaviour, some trends that should be considered whilst creating digital content are: The time has never been better to increase existing presence online, compete on quality of content and work harder to obtain customer engagement in order to secure more customers. With consumers spending more time at home and on social media, the potential for ROI on digital ads has increased. Therefore, investing in digital ads would help you reach out to relevant target audiences as well as serve as a way to remind customers that your business is alive and well and changing to suit changing requirements. Bear in mind, though, that many others will be doing the same, resulting in more clutter and therefore the need to work harder to cut through it by being distinctive, timely and relevant. It is more important than ever before to be empathetic. The pandemic has resulted in financial hardships and personal losses for many people. As marketers, nothing could be worse than coming across as uncaring or insensitive. It is key to listen to customers, understand their current situation and create better-quality, more distinctive experiences. Consider whether you require an overhaul of your communication strategy in general, given the changing environment.

From data to insight: For years, marketers have depended heavily on data and analytics to help them craft campaigns that are successful. In a post-Covid era, data and predictive analytics, aided by technologies such as artificial intelligence technologies, will continue to play a large role in helping marketers understand their customers better. More content and more activity may mean more data, but it also means that marketers will need to work harder than before to extract insights from data to gain a competitive edge. Analytical capabilities need to go beyond just tracking campaign results, consumer preferences and behaviours to enabling predictive insights, automated content delivery and rapid responses to opportunities or threats. In every challenge, there lies an opportunity, as the saying goes. And this is true of the current situation as well. The post-Covid era comes with its own share of challenges; however, it is also an opportunity for marketers to demonstrate agility in the face of economic disruption, using digital transformation as the tool to do so. Courses such as Heriot-Watt University Dubai’s M.Sc. in Digital Marketing and MA in Marketing, both of which will launch in September 2021, will go a long way in helping marketeers understand and address these changing market requirements. By Dr Paul Hopkinson, associate head of the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, and academic lead for Heriot-Watt Online



January 31, 2021


VALUE CREATION IPG Mediabrands’ Shadi Kandil examines a new approach to maximising media opportunities: content immersiveness and cognitive processing can help predict monetisation potential


ike many industries around the globe, the media industry has been battling strong headwinds for many years now. Disruption has cut deep into its structure and has changed the landscape forever. Looking back on the past five years, the media industry was among the very first to be affected by the explosive growth of the tech platforms and to witness network effects taking their toll on the ecosystem. The new conditions for success have driven major shifts in wealth from established incumbents to new and emerging players. In this era, value creation has become dependent on the imperative to digitally transform and to develop sophisticated processes to capture and analyse data to shape business and product strategy in response to consumer preferences, all while solving the challenges of ad fraud and brand safety. As a consequence to these changes, business models have come under pressure. We witnessed heightened competitiveness and new barriers to entry mounted, resulting from agile players who are powered by technology and are cash rich due to their unprecedented valuations. While all that was happening, Covid-19 descended on us like a storm, dealing a devastating human and economic blow all over the world. As it continued to rage unabated, the lockdown mandates and restrictions on mobility brought about certain changes to consumer habits that will become mainstays even after the world recovers.


In media, value is created by the conception of a creative element that is built to inspire human feelings and psychological need states. Historically, the process of value creation was an “inside-out” practice. Media executives embraced a sense of confidence in shaping their offerings by adopting the mantra, “build it and they will come”. This intuition-guided approach can no longer hold in the age of data-driven business planning. In September 2020, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Industry Action Group on Media, Entertainment and Culture, together with Accenture, published a compelling paper about the future of media and introduced a new framework for valuing content along three dimensions: creation, distribution and consumption.

The paper concluded by analysing the various types of monetisation models, segmenting them as those that are at risk, those that are well-placed for the future and those that haven’t been affected by the recent disruption. While the paper offered rich insights into the future of content monetisation, it tackled the subject from the perspective of media owners, publishers, content creators and tech companies, using functional labels (TV, print, digital…) and standard content genres (news, sports, entertainment…). To come full circle in assessing the future monetisation potential, the exercise has to present the consumers’ motivators and inhibitors to consuming content and engaging with media.


Findings from proprietary consumer research that IPG Mediabrands has been running for the past 10 years points to four utilities that consumers seek from consuming content: The utility of communicating with others (Communication); The utility of being entertained (Entertainment); The utility of uncovering credible information (Information); The utility of facilitating commerce (Commerce). The study ran across multiple countries, reasserting the fact that while the form of fulfilling a utility may have evolved over time, the utility and the satisfaction sought remained largely the same. As consumers set out to satisfy a certain utility, the next logical question would be to

identify what drives their media and content choices. Although the power of the brand, and the force of habit constitute a strong pull factor, conclusions from various academic studies indicate the presence of other determinants shaping these choices and preferences. One such determinant establishes a relationship between cognitive involvement processing and the depth of engagement with a piece of content. Academic research posits that the higher the involvement processing, the higher the level of engagement. This is best illustrated when comparing a 30-second funny video about dogs to a five-minute video segment about elections, on election night. The second determinant establishes a strong correlation between content engagement and the level of immersiveness that a content production offers. This relationship indicates that a higher level of immersiveness in production delivers higher levels of engagement. Again, an example to illustrate this: In attempting to satisfy the entertainment utility, a piece of video content has proven to deliver a higher level of engagement than a static or text-based piece. Based on this analysis, plotting the two determinants on a two-by-two matrix, with scales ranging from low to high, produces four different quadrants that presents four different scenarios of immersiveness and involvement processing. Consequently, each of these quadrants will then have a distinct immersiveness-processing score (I*P) that yields a certain monetisation outcome. This exercise, when completed for each of the four utilities, can provide content producers and media outlets, the ability to maximise revenue yield by aligning value with consumer motivations.

‘‘Media executives adopted the mantra, 'build it and they will come'. This intuition-guided approach can no longer hold in the age of data-driven business planning.”

January 31, 2021


This proposed approach is complementary to the WEF framework, and together they can offer a holistic recipe for future success. Reflecting on the current state, and building on all the above, I want to close with the following thoughts: Content for communication will continue to edge towards commoditisation. This trajectory began with Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and the evolution of Apple’s iMessage. From there on the economics never worked again for a stand-alone proposition. In the next phase, this space will witness a weeding-out of sorts. Acceptance of paid subscription reached record levels in the Entertainment utility. This has finally validated the model and accelerated the cord-cutting trend. Two observations here: (1) Any new entrant has to compete on content and brand saliency (a tall order); (2) Recurring subscription revenue seems to have higher demonstrated success and sustainability with long-form content. Paid subscription in the Information utility will soon become mainstream. The level of misinformation reached a nauseating high in 2020. The need for credible, trustworthy information, coupled with decreased barriers to pay, will finally give news outlets a genuine opportunity to move steadily into sensible subscription models. At the initial stages it might not provide the same scale in user acquisition, but it will eventually provide enough to achieve sustainable growth. Kudos to the success of the early movers such as the Financial Times and the New York Times. Advertiser-funded activities will continue to be a strong source for monetisation. Learning from 2020, expect this area to be increasingly unforgiving about matters that relate to brand safety, fraud, responsible data handling and transparency of measurement/attribution. Focus builds stronger competitive growth. While an organisation might have assets to let it play in more than one utility, focusing on one utility zone will help in building a moat to achieve differentiated growth. Organisations that have not embarked on their digital transformation journey yet have to do so immediately or risk checking out. Incumbents in each category are now officially in a race against time. Three actions to be considered: a. Invest in the right technology infrastructure to capture and manage first-party data, automate the workflow and digitalise the business model. b. Restructure value creation around the chosen utility, then identify the optimal point for immersiveness and cognitive processing that will prove to maximise engagement. c. Explore pivots and bold experiments. How can the organisation’s assets be repurposed to extend the value creation potential? What other monetisation opportunities exist? (Two recent and brilliant examples I came across: an established newspaper in Canada that is using its distribution network to fulfil e-commerce orders; and some studios in Hollywood deciding to bypass theatres to launch new movies). By Shadi Kandil, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey




January 31, 2021

TIME TO TRANSFORM TRANSFORMATION? The Marketing Society’s Tim Burnell looks at what those repositioning conversations really mean


ransformation has been a constant theme for big business since the 1990s, largely in response to tech-led disruption. 2020’s challenges, however, have made it de rigueur for many more, as a wave of smaller organisations and individuals are inspired or pressured to repurpose in response to the sentiment of customers, partners and commentators. Cue a huge rise in the number and categories of specialists on hand with tools and strategies to help organisations change. Are we now at a point where the guidelines for transformation are clearer to all and navigating the process is smoother? If digital transformation has been the “T” du jour, what then are we talking about now? Is it brand and cultural or strategic business transformation? The latter would be a Netflix-style fundamental core business shift from distributor to producer based on growth opportunities and declining financials – in this case an iconic move tripling company value. Let’s focus on brand and culture-led change. In terms of triggers, at the sharp end the reality can be very visual as C-level executives become tired of their brand “style”, explaining one of the reasons that brand platforms average only a three-year shelf life out of a 20-year company lifespan for the S&P Top 500. A little more probable is a net promoter score (NPS)-measured drop in love from consumers that green-lights the exciting allocation of a budget for a brand audit. This is a popular starting point when the business transformation is still being framed and passes the ball firmly to the brand team. Commonly, after a series of clarifications, research, surveys, insights and new hypotheses, we likely arrive at a new purpose, proposition and position. Alongside this sits a journey plan to roll out the fresh platform that will right all the wrongs and meet the new strategic vision. However, this may not be enough to pass the tough exam set by a results-hungry senior audience from all areas of the business. Critically, are all parties even agreed on what is being transformed? Subjective arguments on taglines, vision and mission narratives, visual identities, employer brand and culture are worryingly common at the latter approval stages, rather than the discovery phase. But, taking a wider view, is it even the brand that needs a refresh? The very mention of proposition and positioning in a brand-inspired presentation will set off justifiably heated debates about business strategy and basic product, customer, staff, technology and distribution issues. The brand can either be a catalyst for bringing these themes together or a scapegoat for their shortcomings and lack of alignment. Doubts can surface easily. Do we have an innovative new product that will disrupt the market or are we wrapping a new story around the same goods and services to appeal to a different audience? Or,

perhaps the financials are so concerning that Transformation, with a capital T, is really a cloak for cost management and a tighter value focus. If the brand is expected to solve such strategic and commercial issues, luckily technology is at hand to bring quick results and ease the pressure. Letting digital marketing take the lead can bring immediate improvement, neatly attributable to “brand transformation” as spiked investment in AI-driven media brings a step change in reach, consideration and purchase for products that may have been only marginally tweaked or repackaged. Delivering such results will certainly help get the change piece approved across the more commercially and operationally minded areas of the organisation where data-backed ROI is king.


But in the media-led route we’d be missing many tricks, and of course it is generally accepted that product improvement, brand strength and cultural harmony will reap the best rewards in the longer term and thus should be at the core of meaningful transformation programmes. Moreover, the current climate of a global pandemic, long-overdue championing of causes for equality and mental health, digitally-driven lifestyle norms and the acceptance of a need to look after our planet have provided a richer and clearer picture of what transformation really needs to address and how to achieve it. If we truly focus on our community more than our shareholders, transformation agendas are free to create a new bond between our organisation, customers and society based on meaningful themes such as diversity, sustainability, equality and wellbeing. This approach is more likely to allow organisations to achieve real relevancy with what customers need, value and engage with, and we will see the championing of more innovation in markets that will be characterised by superfast disruption and very little continuity. And if these are the new guidelines for transformation, the good news is that mindset shifts should provide a helpful, sympathetic and sophisticated environment in which to succeed. Purpose will win over profit. Networks will replace hierarchies. Empowerment will trump control. Experimentation will challenge rigid planning, and transparency will open up privacy. All you need is a strong, charismatic and courageous chief marketing/ communications/growth/experience officer to see it through. Tim Burnell held VP roles at Etihad and Emirates during 19 years in aviation and was SVP communications & brand at First Abu Dhabi Bank for four years. In these roles he enjoyed the challenges of multiple strategic transformations with a global rebrand at their core.

Digital agency and ad tech guide 2021



January 31, 2021



appy New Year, everyone. And welcome to a bumper issue of Campaign. There are two main features in this edition, and they go hand-in-hand. They address predictions and technology. On the previous pages you will find predictions for 2021. Many of these are written by the same people you saw at our Marcomms360 – Predictions 2021 event in December. If you missed that online extravaganza, then worry no more. As we publish these predictions to our website in the next couple of weeks, we will also post the video presentations from Marcomms360 so you can watch and listen to the future as well as read about it. After 2020, people are perhaps more cautious in their predictions this time around. That’s quite understandable, given that a year ago no one managed to predict much of what has just happened to us. But one constant is a focus on digital technology. And not only because by definition it’s bound to evolve. There’s a renewed focus on technology driven by the Covid-necessitated move to digital everything among consumers. Add to that a need from marketers to see returns on every dollar spent – and therefore an affinity for the sort of performance that digital can offer. And everyone, from owned websites to social platforms, upped their digital game last year and will be looking to consolidate that progress in 2021. Which is why it’s interesting to read those prediction articles in the same issue as the Digital Agency and Ad Tech Guide on the coming pages. I say this every year, but I’ll say it again: Notice how varied the backgrounds and services are of the digital agencies listed. The pure-play digital shops are outnumbered now by agencies once better known for media, PR or branding, who continue to broaden their digital capabilities. More than one contributor to the magazine mentions the growing need for partnerships. In ad tech terms this means integration. There are some phenomenal stand-alone, bespoke and exclusive technologies out there, but it is becoming more and more essential to integrate systems that can talk to one another. This can let marketers make the most of data that is both limitless and limited. We’ve all read the stats about how much raw information is generated every day, but at the same time privacy concerns are putting paid to third-party cookies and tracking, and marketers must find new ways to reach the right people with the right messages. Ad tech will need to be able to talk to other ad tech; which will need to be able to talk to agencies; which will need to work with other agencies as well as brands. And consumers are ready to regain control of their data. There’s a lot of useful discussion in these pages around how to engage with your audience, be it through augmented reality, social conversations or providing better value and more reason for them to tell brands about themselves. And there’s even talk of blockchain: could it be about to find new purpose as a way for brands and consumers to deal in the currency of data? The marketing ecosystem is a complicated jigsaw puzzle at the best of times. There’s no box with a picture on it, and there are a lot of pieces missing. But read the articles in this issue to give you an idea of the image that 2021 might form, and check out the agencies and ad tech companies that will slot together to create it. And enjoy a great year ahead.


austyn.allison@motivate.ae @maustyn

Motivate Publishing Group Head Office: 34th Floor, Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Email: motivate@motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 390 3550, Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: Motivate Advertising, Marketing & Publishing, PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel: +971 2 677 2005, Fax: +971 2 677 0124, Email: motivate-adh@motivate.ae London: Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER. motivateuk@motivate.ae www.motivatemedia.com EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Editor Austyn Allison Editorial Intern Sofia Serrano DESIGN Art Directors Sheila Deocareza Junior Designer Thokchom Remy ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Tel: +971 4 427 3000 Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Nadeem Ahmed Quraishi (+971 50 6453365) Group Marketing Manager Anusha Azees PRODUCTION General Manager S. Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran HAYMARKET MEDIA GROUP Chairman Kevin Costello Managing Director Jane Macken The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Campaign Middle East includes material reproduced from the UK Edition (and other editions) of Campaign, which is the copyright of Haymarket. Campaign is a trademark of Haymarket and is used under licence. The views and opinions expressed within this magazine are not necessarily those of Haymarket Magazines Limited or those of its contributors.




Campaign ME



January 31, 2021

WEB 3.0 – THE POWER SHIFT GAGAN UPPAL Head of partnerships, The TechVantage

‘‘Users are demanding transparency, choice and control over how their data is used — and its clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.’’

The future of internet advertising will be user-controlled and blockchain-driven, writes The TechVantage’s Gagan Uppal


here is a shared common belief that data is now the world’s most valuable currency. Tech entrepreneurs turn their noses up at the bottom line in favour of user acquisition, whilst companies like Amazon, Groupon and Rakuten have revelled in data collection, storage, processing and the analysis of personal information of millions of customers. They use that data to formulate and optimise algorithms that market to consumers, encourage purchasing and conveniently disguise it as a ‘customer-centric’ approach, which drives user engagement. The concept of user engagement first reared its head at the advent of Web 2.0, when the business model relied on users to create fresh content and, by happenstance, personal profile data to be sold to third parties for marketing purposes. New-age social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and now TikTok are focusing on Gen Z to not only consume but to generate hours of original content, thereby fuelling this data-driven ecosystem. New-age celebrities end up influencing large audiences, further multiplying consumption and monetisation of their follower base. Consequently, the internet has become a massive app store, dominated by walled gardens, where every ad tech company is trying to build an audience, collect data and monetise that data through targeted advertising. The centralisation and exploitation of data, and the use of it without users’ consent, is at the core of Web 2.0’s model. “IF YOU’RE NOT PAYING FOR IT, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT” Data has become a major priority for businesses of all sizes. Collecting user data allows brands to store and analyse important information about existing and potential customers, ensuring they can target and remarket to them in perpetuity. Quality of data dictates how personalised a marketer’s message, product promotion or pricing can be, based on the target user’s profile, resulting in enhanced engagement and ROI. In response to this, users are demanding greater privacy — including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used — and its clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands. Regulatory bodies and governments have intervened to draft strict data privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA and EPR. As a result of these data privacy regulations, in January 2020 Google announced its plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in its web browser Chrome within two years. Fast-forward to June 2020 and Apple announced its own new privacy measures with iOS 14 by launching IDFA, which sees developers required to ask users for permission to gather data and track them across mobile apps and websites.

WEB 3.0? The rise of technologies such as distributed ledgers and storage on the blockchain will allow for data decentralisation and create a transparent and secure environment, overtaking Web 2.0 centralisation and leading to user-controlled internet Web 3.0. Marketing has changed a lot in the past decade, but it is about to go through another revolution – thanks in large part to the blockchain. Whilst digital marketing continues to be associated with AI and analytics, blockchain may be the most disruptive technology yet to hit marketers in every industry. Blockchain is already disrupting the digital advertising space as the industry plans to bid farewell to cookies. Blockchain’s ambition to reinvent the advertising industry centres around creating an open advertising ecosystem that connects advertisers directly to consumers and their devices. Not only will consumers be able to reclaim control of their privacy, personal data and web browsing experience, they will also be rewarded for it. Rewarded for viewing ads, consuming content and watching TikToks, and treated like participants rather than products. It may possibly be the only industry where the final product is what kickstarts the entire supply chain. The empowerment of the consumer is one of the most significant implications of decentralisation, and blockchain technology is in the area of data ownership and compensation. Blockchain guarantees data authenticity and transparency due to its distributed ledger approach, whilst also reducing the cost of the transaction and assuring security and user anonymity.   THE BLOCKCHAIN DIFFERENCE Better audience targeting: Advertisers will have the potential to create customer profiles directly by encouraging customers to participate with consent and a vested interest. Fake news eradication: Blockchain technology will see the back of fake news, as the meritocracy of editorial content rises once again. Validity and trackability of content won’t allow for grey areas, and users will have to regain control over their media choices. No middle man: Blockchain could take some of the intermediaries like ad exchanges and search engines out of the picture. It will enable brands to incentivise audiences by eliminating the media buying process. Enhancing transparency:  Digital ledger technology offers 100 per cent transparency across the media supply chain. Buying and selling of media from publishers to advertisers will become transparent, and the end-user will also commercially benefit. In the new Web 3.0, “just five more minutes” of mindless scrolling at 1am may soon be rephrased as “just five more dollars”.



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January 31, 2021


DMS’s Imad Sarrouf reveals his top six ad tech predictions for 2021 By Imad Sarrouf, Head of Publishers, DMS


usinesses across the world were served a major blow when faced with the crippling impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the setbacks, technological breakthroughs progressed unhindered, especially across the marketing space. Brands were quick to understand that new means were now available, and they were here for the long haul. Remote and work-from-home situations are the new normal, and brands are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to their target audiences, despite them being locked up at home. With a new year, ripe with promises of new opportunities in the ad tech space, digital transformation in 2021 becomes the thread that binds brands to survival and brings them closer to their consumers.



AR, VR and XR

The world of augmented reality, virtual reality and extended reality will soon see a culmination in the ad world. Customers will be empowered to experience how a product or service feels in real-time. IDTechX has predicted that virtual reality technology will grow over $8bn by 2030. More and more e-commerce and retail apps will witness the incorporation of AR and XR or XR and VR into their product sponsorships.


Martech consolidation

In-house is where digital marketing is headed, as it has been for some time now. The shift from agency to in-house has far exceeded the trend phase and moved well into becoming the new standard for digital marketing. The reasons behind this trend are increased transparency, first-party data activation, brand ownership, improved agency relationships, agility and reduced costs.



Blazing connection speeds will improve ad experiences, with huge potential for improving ad quality and delivery on mobile devices, therefore improving the user experience (UX). Mobile ads suffer from lag times and latency that have long affected the few milliseconds load of both a page’s contents and the intended ads. Nowadays, where users are constantly scrolling, slower load times deprive advertisers of the opportunity to connect with the right consumer at the right time. A simple factor such as loading a webpage, or an ad on-time can improve the UX and make consumers less annoyed with ads, and consequently minimise the usage of ad blockers.


EU taking back control

The coronavirus pandemic may have bolstered the digital giants (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon; GAFA), but it has also strengthened calls to regulate these corporations, which continue to expand their footprint through

hundreds of acquisitions. Until recently, the benefits they provided, especially in terms of innovation and services, were considered to outweigh their wrongdoings. For the EU, that has changed, and now the GAFA stand accused of not paying enough taxes, unfair competition, stealing media content and spreading fake news. The EU has unveiled an elaborate set of new rules to clip their wings. These range from imposing constraints on their power over the market to clamping down on hate speech and requirements for transparency over algorithms. A lesson having been learned from disappointing procedures and small penalties, considering the revenues being made, the Digital Services Act could see companies face hefty fines or even bans from the EU market for breaches.


Connected TV

During lockdown, the connected and OTT TV business was abundantly exploited. This convergence pattern will soon invite advertisers, as more and more people flock to the CTV space for entertainment consumption. Connected TV companies will also see a good chunk of budget allocations and would also be expected to merge all content streaming platforms into one.


The rise of dynamic creative.

The race towards programmatic trading has placed creative innovation in the back seat, but the ad tech industry is now rotating to make quality creative front and centre with dynamic creative optimisation tools. For ad campaigns to be successful, the creative message must become the focal point. Today’s dynamic creative tools, driven by machine learning, enable advertisers to serve ads that feature products, messaging and creative that are noticeably customised to each user. Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) continues to be an authoritative tool for advertisers to connect with consumers, providing the ability to layer user-level data with targeted messages for each buyer. While large-scale personalisation and targeting was once excessively complex, time-consuming and costly, today’s DCO tools have automated the process and have rendered it simple enough to deploy across almost any type of campaign.


2021 will be a year of innovation and breakthroughs as the advertising world tries to grapple with businesses and transform them into sales. Digital is the way forward, and extensive innovation and culminations in the ad tech world are most anticipated. New and high-tech disruptions and modifications are sure to become the new face of the marketing industry.




January 31, 2021


Acorn Strategy

Founded: 2011 Head of company: Patrick Lahoud admin@acceleratemeonline.com www.acceleratemeonline.com


Today’s clients are always connected, and your advertising solutions must work with their needs and desires. Through incorporating various aspects of typical agencies, we are able to provide comprehensive approaches to fit your marketing needs, while ensuring a strong brand image across various popular platforms. SERVICES: Digital and social media strategies, social content creation and copywriting, community management up to 24/7, SEO & SEM, video production, PR and influencer outreach, online media planning and booking, mobile programmatic advertising, digital design services, audience intelligence

Accenture Interactive Founded: 2009 Head of company: David Fregonas, Accenture Interactive lead, Middle East. middleeast@accenture.com www.accentureinteractive.com.

Acorn Strategy is an award-winning integrated marketing, public relations and digital communications agency with a global presence, supporting clients across various industries with expert services out of its offices in London, Perth, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Acorn Strategy’s services include marketing strategy, public relations, communications, recruitment and secondment services. SERVICES: Strategy, integrated marketing, public relations and digital campaigns, public relations, digital marketing, creative communications, marketing operations & consultancy, marketing communications strategy

Active Digital Marketing Communications Founded: 2003 Heads of company: Sawsan Ghanem and Louay Al-Samarrai info@activedmc.com

Accenture Interactive helps leading brands transform experiences across the entire customer journey. Through our connected offerings in design, marketing, content and commerce, we create new ways to win in today’s experience-led economy. Accenture Interactive was ranked the world’s largest digital agency in the latest Ad Age Agency Report for the fourth year in a row, and was named a 2019 Most Innovative Company in Advertising by Fast Company.

Active DMC was founded in 2003 with a vision to revolutionise the marketing industry and be innovative with every campaign, big or small. It is a vibrant agency that challenges itself every day to leverage best practices through creativity and a diverse set of communication disciplines to deliver excellence. A founding member of the PRCA Middle East chapter, it is committed to upholding the code of ethics and putting continuing professional development programmes in place.

SERVICES: Consulting, design thinking and user experience, platform solutions, creative services, digital media, audience solutions, integrated search, social as a service, influencer management, data and analytics, loyalty marketing

SERVICES: Public relations; influencer relations; social & digital marketing; lead generation; video content & production


January 31, 2021


Founded: 1988 Headquartered: Jumeirah Lakes Towers enquiry@amcuae.com www.amcuae.com +971 4 457 2125

Pierre Abou Diwan

Mark Abou Diwan

Chairman & CEO

Managing Director

In a challenging digital world, we’ve embraced innovation like never before. We are an integrated full-service media buying and planning agency. We use our cutting-edge digital marketing strategies and targeted campaigns to drive unparalleled growth for our partners - brands, SMEs, corporate groups, government entities and business institutions. SERVICES: Media planning & buying; SEO, SEM & PPC; programmatic and network advertising solutions; creative; social media advertising; web design & analytics KEY CLIENTS: Bentley Emirates, Sorbonne University, Mitsubishi, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, Emirates International Schools, Emirates College of Technology, McLaren, Mohammed Rasool Khoory & Sons (Rolex, Tudor, Alpina, Frederique Constant Parmigiani watches), Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, Ajyal International Schools, Department of Culture and Tourism

Rabih Al Atat

Fadia Reda

Branch Manager Abu Dhabi

Director - Abu Dhabi

PARTNERS: Google, Socialbakers, HubSpot, Amazon Web Services, Oracle Eloqua


Founded: 2011 Headquartered: Dubai info@bluebarracuda.com www.bluebarracudame.com 04 3544458 Blue Barracuda is the digital and social arm of Horizon Holdings. We get people talking to each other and to brands. We use technology, data and content to craft experiences and tell stories that spark conversation. When people talk, we understand perspectives and discover opportunities and possibilities.

Mazen Jawad

Dina Saadeh

President Horizon Holdings

General Manager

Ananya Sengupta

Zeina Masri

Lead Technologist

Head of Social

We use digital and social platforms to build relationships between our clients and their consumers that enable them to reach business and communication objectives. We see ourselves as conversation makers for the digital world. SERVICES: Experience and conversation makers across digital & social mediums; includes customer journey-mapping, digital transformation strategy & implementation, content creation, website/app design & build, influencer marketing, SEO, gaming, CRM consultancy KEY CLIENTS: Dell Technologies, VMware, Avaya, ADQ, Al Ain Farms, Pandora, Capital Club Riyadh, Vestel, Siaci Saint Honore, Carrier, Petromin AWARDS: Dubai Lynx Grand Prix PARTNERS:Â Media Temple, AWS, Google for Developers, SEO Optimizer, Socialbakers




January 31, 2021


Founded : 2011 Headquartered : Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai & Singapore.  www.boopin.com +971 4 4255 365  info@boopin.com

Ovais Ahmed

Head of Programmatic

Zeena Kurd

Social Director

At #Boopin, we design the ultimate digital experience, helping brands achieve digital transformation through strategic, creative and technical innovation. We are a culture of creative curiosity and what we can do has no boundaries. We take up new challenges with an open mind about the structure, team, technology and creative solution necessary to deliver the best possible outcome for clients. with our brand commerce expertise, product and service-design capabilities, we creatively solve complex challenges, delivering positive business results for many of our clients. SERVICES OFFERED: Digital strategy; data and analytics solutions; programmatic buying; content; social; customer data platform; data management platform; web and app development; China digital marketing TECH PARTNERS:  Google, Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, Tealium and many others

Qaiser Nawaz Creative Director

Scott Zhang

Account Director – China Market

KEY CLIENTS : Public Diplomacy Office, Al Masaood Automobiles, IG Group, Department of Culture & Tourism Abu Dhabi, GEMS Education, Sky News Arabia, EMAAR, Abu Dhabi Ports, The National, ADNEC


SHADI ABDULHADI Founder & CEO of Boopin

tapping into and understanding the opportunity of spiked internet usage and the new consumer behaviour. While working from home, the online and offline consumer behaviour changed and we adapted to that change, considering our whole business is dependent on the internet. This in turn led to our growth during the unprecedented time.


The biggest change is the one noticed by the majority. Prior to the pandemic, digital experts always pushed their programs and were sometimes faced with resistance. Covid has accelerated the digital boom even further and organisations, as well as people, realised that a lot of the old habits are dispensable. Take the QSR segment as an example; many outlets did not have their digital backend systems developed or deployed and, consequently, this affected their ability to adapt to the drop in walk-ins and pickups. This was a lesson that will now ensure that businesses are more open-minded to change.

WHAT WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM THE LAST YEAR? The year was challenging on different levels for all of us. I am proud that we helped our clients stay afloat in the situation by adapting to the unprecedented business environment. In almost half of the cases, we actually saw a growth in business of our clients compared to 2019, by

I believe the biggest challenge is uncertainty. Our inability to know or forecast what tomorrow or next week holds. Most parts of the world are back under lockdown or travel bans, with fear of new strains and doubts revolving around the efficacy of the vaccines in market. This uncertainty will be the biggest challenge to forecasting what can be done. For digital marketers, this uncertainty is paired with reduced budgets and unchanged business outcome expectations to continuously perform and deliver return.


Brands should focus on two key facets: Personifying themselves to build a bond with the consumer. This can be achieved by being more socially attentive and responsible. Personalisation of communication to appeal to interests and passions and create a connection that is beyond a product or service.


If you are residing in Dubai, the most exciting thing is the upcoming Expo. With the world rushing to

heal from Covid; Expo will stand out as the event to attend and be part of. Such global events could map out the next five to 10 years. Finally, on a personal level, the expansion plans for Boopin outside the region.


January 31, 2021

Ad Scholars


Founded: 2016 Head of company: Srikanth Rayaprolu, CEO & founder Srikanth@adscholars.com

Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai, UAE Head of company: Alisa D’Souza alisa@alisapr.com

Ad Scholars has been consistently picked as the best choice in the region for performance advertising. Working with tier-1 agencies, affluent brands and renowned publishers in the market to support them with their needs in branding and performance campaigns. KEY CLIENTS: MCN, Dubai Properties, Mazda, OMD, Publiscreen Media, Disney Nat Geo, Emaar, Mashreq SERVICES: Boutique ad agency, performance advertising, outsourced ad operations, ad tech representation & media news blog.

Alisa PR joins hands to help our clients evolve, promote and protect their brands. We provide professionalism, strategic thinking, creativity and handson experience in PR and social media combining digital marketing solutions across all verticals of business in the UAE & Middle East. Our communications consultancy is research driven, newsworthy and experiential that creates real conversations to help your business succeed SPECIALISMS: Public relations, digital marketing, advertising.

AGA-ADK Advertising and Marketing

And Us

Founded: 1997 Offices: Dubai (HQ), Beirut, Jeddah, Riyadh info@aga-adk.com aga-adk.com +971 4 445 8383

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai www.and-us.agency +971 56 779 8436 fadi@and-us.agency

Affiliated with ASATSU-DK (ADK), the third largest advertising network in Japan, AGA-ADK is a full-fledged communications agency in the MENA region. Known for its blend of memorable and effective ad campaigns , it uses data to drive creative solutions, and with a content-first approach, the team focuses on creating relevance.

We are an independent creative marketing and design firm. We work side by side with our clients to solve their business problems or create business opportunities with creativity. We combine technology and creativity to give a competitive advantage to our clients.

SERVICES: Full marketing communication services, strategic planning,

SERVICES: Strategy; digital; marketing campaigns; branding; design; media; content production

creative designs, consumer activation, production, branding and corporate identity, content planning and production

KEY CLIENTS: Al Fardan Group, Bank Of Sharjah, Bosch, Siemens,

GAWAMEN, IFFCO, Mersaco, Nahdi, Nokia, P&G, SAMACO (Porsche), Toshiba, United Fidelity Insurance, Kobayashi, Hisamitsu, Solico, Hershey’s


Founded: 2010 Number of staff: 74 Headquartered: Dubai letstalk@chainreaction.ae www.chainreaction.ae +971 4 429 7929 Chain Reaction is the region’s first digital performance marketing agency, and the first Google Adwords partner in the Middle East back in 2010. We combine innovation, data and technology to craft powerful digital experiences that make an impact, shape culture and connect brands with people. Over the years, we have evolved into a growth-focused digital marketing partner to our clients, helping them succeed in a digital-first world. Our datadriven approach to everything we do has helped us tapping in new levels of cooperation between us and our clients and also helped in maintaining many clients for years.

Saif Jarad

Haneen Al Hassan

Founder & Managing Director

Communications and Strategy Director

Wassim Moumneh

Firas Shaheen

Head of Digital

Digital Director

SERVICES: Digital consulting; digital content creation; SEO; SEM; social media consultancy; social media strategy; analytics & data solutions; creative services; digital media planning & buying; web & apps development KEY CLIENTS: Emaar Malls, Emaar Entertainment, Samsung, Nakheel Malls, Dubai Safari Park, KFC, , ADCB, Total Oil, Al Maryah Island, Galleria Mall, MBC Group, Dubai Festival City and Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority AWARDS: MENA Search Awards; Gold Stevie Winner PARTNERS: Google Premier Partner, GA 360, Facebook Marketing Partner, Adjust, Hubspot, Deepcrawl




January 31, 2021


Founded: 2010 Head of company: Tom Otton www.createmedia-group.com +971 4 442 5674 We’re Create Media; the leading digital communications agency with offices and teams in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo & Karachi, powered by a team of 100+ relentless innovators who constantly push boundaries.

Tom Otton

Founder & Managing Partner

Matthew Richardson Partner

We’re ambitious, customer-focused creators, recognised as one of the 100 fastest growing agencies in the world in 2019 & 2020 by Adweek. From social media to e-commerce solutions, we deliver across verticals, all underpinned by a full in-house production team that has been creating global campaigns for the likes of Dubai Tourism. SERVICES: digital strategic leadership; social media; video production; web/app products; performance marketing KEY CLIENTS: Dubai Tourism, The Public Investment Fund, Nespresso, Audi, Emirates Airline, Expo 2020, Volkswagen Middle East, Red Bull

Dia Hassan

Simone Green

Head of Create Production

Operations Director

AWARDS: Adweek 100 Fastest Growing Agencies 2019 & 2020. Ranked 44th overall, and 8th Fastest Growing Agency Globally in the 10-15yr Old Category

DIGITAL HAS EVOLVED CREATE MEDIA AdWeek’s World’s fastest growing agencies list 19 & 20 | 100+ team members 5 cities | Dubai - Abu Dhabi - Riyadh - Cairo - Karachi


January 31, 2021

Bates Pan Gulf Founded: 1980 Group: CEO Avishesha Bhojani Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Jeddah www.bpggroup.com info@bpggroup.com +971 4 506 55 555 The BPG Group, headquartered in Dubai, is one of the larger integrated communications groups in the MENA region and part of the WPP network. Our regional experience dates back nearly four decades and we have played a pivotal role in helping to initiate and promote some of the region’s most powerful local brands and initiatives. We pride ourselves on being uniquely integrated by design and have specialised practices operating from our two regional hubs in Dubai and Kuwait. SERVICES: Advertising; digital and interactive experiences; experiential marketing and activations; social media; content marketing; public relations; influencer marketing; media planning and buying

Belong Interactive

Blue Apple Advertising

Founded: 2012 Founder and CEO: Pierre Azzam hi@belonginteractive.com www.belonginteractive.com +971 4 369 5345

Founded: 2010 Headquartered: Dubai  www.blueappleco.com hello@blueappleco.com +9714 4390161

As the “The Immersive Agency”, Belong interactive is a specialist digital agency with “Intelligence” at its core. With its business maturity and analytical sensitivity, it leverages its clients’ multi-platform digital assets, empowering them to connect and engage with users through intuitive and immersive experiences across web, mobile and social assets.

Blue Apple is an award-winning integrated creative digital agency. Everyone talks about their differences, but we believe we genuinely offer our clients something different; a team of communications experts who value client relationships. We strive every day to create fresh, innovative and collaborative communication solutions in a boutique personalised way to help drive your businesses forward.

SERVICES: UX/UI strategy and design; digital assets design, development and maintenance for websites, e-commerce sites, mobile applications and intranets/ brand portals; SEO; CRM and digital marketing; video and editorial content creation

SPECIALISMS: Creative services, brand strategy, integrated communication, logo design & corporate identity, packaging, digital marketing, social media KEY CLIENTS: Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City-District One, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Post, Bally, Michelin, McCain Foods, Damac Properties, Al Zahra Hospital, Leptos Estates Cyprus

Headquartered: Dubai, UAE archita@dviodigital.com shyam@dviodigital.com varsha@dviodigital.com sowmya@dviodigital.com


DViO Digital is a leading creative and technology led marketing firm with a presence in Middle East, India and Malaysia. DViO’s solutions are best known to be at the intersection of creative + technology + data. DViO has partnered with a team of 700 + writers to create volume content to build authentic organic traffic to digital destinations.

Sowmya Iyer

Varsha Kurdekar

Founder and CEO, DViO Digital

COO and CFO, DViO Digital

SERVICES: Digital creatives and brand building using DFA; AR and VR; organic traffic building; voice technology and SEO; chatbots: RPA, ML and AI based chatbots for websites, messengers, and chat platforms; retail e-commerce KEY CLIENTS: MBC4, Shahid, Star TV/Disney, Zee5 Global, Hotstar International, RedTag, Flipkart, McDonald’s, Landmark Group, Lulu, Eros Group, Ajmal Perfumes, Aldo, Amity University, Manipal University, Bits Pilani AWARDS: Promax Gold for Best Social Media Campaign and Marketing Initiative for Game of Thrones 2018 Promax Gold for Star Movies Play at 7 2019 Digital Agency of the Year: AgencyCon 2019 Best Social Media Agency of the Year: AgencyCon 2020 Independent Agency of The Year: AgencyCon 2020

Shyam Sunder

Archita Patel

Chief Growth Officer, Middle East, DViO Digital

Lead Client Operations, Middle East



www.mena-tech.com MenaTechMedia


January 31, 2021

Blue Beetle

Brand New Galaxy MEA

Year founded: 2004 Head of company: Mark Hirst hello@bluebeetle.me

Founded: 2020 Heads of company: Adil Khan (CEO), Zubair Siddiqui (COO) business.mea@brandnewgalaxy.com

We’re is not your average digital agency. We’re consultants primed to help you grow. We design and develop websites, help drive traffic them, and convert that traffic into revenue. We do this by coupling our passion for design with our love of technology and the yearning to help you flourish.

A global martech platform purpose-built to drive commerce for brands. Headquartered in Warsaw with offices across Europe, MEA & US. BNG delivers e-commerce solutions powered by proprietary transformation tools and data-driven insights underpinned by AI to drive performance. All with a single-minded focus of delivering growth for our clients.

KEY CLIENTS: Emaar, Atlantis, QE2, Aldar, Ali & Sons, Modon SERVICES: Website design & development; app design & development; sales & marketing automation; digital marketing; digital advertising


KEY CLIENTS MEA: Bridgestone, Perfetti Van Melle, Fresh to Home, IFFCO, Black & Decker, Ecolab SERVICES: E-commerce and automation solutions, digital and ad tech, social media, creative production, marketing communication consultancy

BPN MENA Founded: 2004 Heads of company: Rafic Saadeh (Chairman and CEO, Horizon Holdings); Mazen Jawad (President, Horizon Holdings); Antonio Boulos (VP, BPN MENA); Carlos Yeghiazarian (GM, BPN UAE). www.bpnmena.com +971 4 332 3304 info@bpnmena.com We are an integrated full-service media planning and buying agency headquartered in Dubai, with a strong regional network across the MENA region. Our business model is centred on delivering data informed media solutions for today’s dynamic consumer journey. To deliver on this promise we invest in acquiring best-in-class data technology and media talent capable of planning and delivering high performing media campaigns, and measurable business results. SERVICES: Data management & data-led strategy planning; integrated media planning & buying solutions; digital display & performance marketing channels; content creation & production; partnerships & influencer marketing

Bridge of Minds Founded: 2016 Managing director: Marina Araigy info@bridgeofminds.com We bring together an assortment of professionally genuine creatives, specialists and digital marketing experts to create, develop and implement unique online strategies and customised digital solutions that yield quality and profitable results for the brands in the industries of luxury, F&B, retail, arts and entertainment. SERVICES: Social media management; digital design & branding; Google ads; SEO; web development; digital PR &communications KEY CLIENTS: Resense Spa, Kempinski Hotel; La Siesta Hotel & Beach Resort; Castania; Faqra Catering; Ava Venue; Bou Melhem Restaurant; House of Marmalade; Dr. Grace Obeid; AXA Motor Oils; MIMA Group

Founded: 2005 Headquartered: Dubai Knowledge Village https://havas.com/ +971 4 455 6000 


Dany Naaman

Houda Tohme


Managing Director, Media

Havas is a leading fully integrated global communications network operating in more than 100 countries around the globe. Our mission is to make a meaningful difference to brands, businesses and people. We believe that strong brands have real meaning – and that this meaning is most potent when a brand expresses values that its customers admire and share. That’s why we draw directly from the DNA of the company to develop channelneutral platforms with popular appeal. We have a proven track record of creating fully integrated ecosystems that transform brands – and drive business growth. We believe our point of difference is that, through our Village structure with creative, media and PR integrated under one roof and The Vivendi partnership, with partners such as Universal Music Groups & Gameloft, we are the most integrated global comms network. SERVICES: Digital creative: brand guideline development, ATL creative, digital creative, social media content, brand design, UI/UX, web development; Online media planning & buying: digital display advertising,  programmatic buying (trading desk): search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, paid social media, mobile, online video planning, product feed management, e-comm paid media, Amazon sponsor ads; Data & analytics: attribution, mobile & web analytics, ad tech implementation, dashboards; Social media: social media strategy, community management, creative, crisis management; influencer management; media digital trainings. AWARDS: One Show Asia – 2021; Cresta – 2020; AdStars – 2020; Lisbon international Ad Festival- 2020; Caples- 2019; Loeries – 2020 & 2019; MENA Effie’s -2019; Dubai Lynx – 2019

Dana Tahir

Fabio Silveira

General Manager, PR

General Manager, Creative

KEY CLIENTS: Adidas, Aldar Properties , Bel, British Council, Chanel, Cofrex-France Pavilion, COTY, Damas, Infinity Des Lumieres, FAB, FACES, Hermès, Hershey’s, Hyundai & Kia, Jawwy TV, JDE, La Perle, Lego, LOccitane, L’Oreal, Nakheel, RB, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swarovski



January 31, 2021

Brothers & Co

Cheil MEA

Founded: 2019 Head of company: Wael Abualteen info@brothersnco.com

Founded: 1973 globally and in the region since 2006. Head of company: Youngsuk Yoon  hello@cheil.com

Connecting the brands with the correct digital talent. SERVICES: Digital campaigns; social media management; content creation; influencer marketing; event management

Cheil MEA is a leading 360-degree advertising agency regionally headquartered in Dubai, and with seven offices across the region. Its dedicated digital business provides full creative development and localisation (across channels such as social media, display and video), as well as e-commerce, CRM, media buying, and UX/UI design & development. KEY CLIENTS: Samsung, Volkswagen, Nespresso, New Balance & Energizer  SERVICES: Creative development (both locally produced and global adaptation), social, digital & e-commerce, CRM, media planning & buying, analytics & reporting.

Bruce Clay MENA Founded: 2015 Head of company: Neal Patel info-me@bruceclay.com Expert digital marketing agency, specialising in search engine optimisation (SEO), pay per click (PPC) and social media marketing. We are search and social experts, working with some of the biggest brands in the region, at the intersection of strategy, creative, execution, and data. KEY CLIENTS: McDonald’s, Smart Dubai, LG, Toshiba, ADVOC, iStyle SERVICES: SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and data & analytics

Crowd Founded: 2012 Global CEO: Jamie Sergeant Managing director, UAE: Tom Berne tom@thisiscrowd.com Crowd is a global creative agency that specialises in amplifying demand for brands around the world. Our dynamic, multi-national team fuses rich data, digital innovation, and creativity to ensure your message hits harder, budgets go further, and sales reach higher. KEY CLIENTS: Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority, Adidas, W Residences, Eagle Hills International Properties, Dubai Airports, Dubai FDI, Razor 

C2 Communication

SERVICES: Creative and content, digital marketing, demand generation, distribution, reporting and analytics

Founded: 1989 Head of company: Roy Aftimos www.c2comms.cx +971 4 282 7621 We do not limit ourselves to the thinking of today’s possibilities. We constantly explore modern marketing to communicate effectively on a daily basis. Driven by a team of courageous decision-makers, progressive thinkers and curious minds, we enable technology to improve business solutions and explore the potential of brands in the future. SERVICES: Building brand identity, tone of voice and perceived value; conceptualisation and ideation of cross-channel communication strategies; activating brands through experiential and meaningful relationships; channel planning strategies; advanced performance marketing and amplification

Cultark Founded: 2011 Head of company: Moataz Kotb moataz@cultark.com Cultark is an award-winning digital marketing agency that is results-focused through leveraging the most up-to-date and effective digital marketing concepts, platforms and tools to ensure the achievement of its clients’ goals. Cultark currently serves clients in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the United Kingdom and Denmark. SERVICES: Digital marketing strategy; performance-based marketing; communication development; social media marketing; search engine marketing optimisation

Cheesecake Digital Founded: 2019 (in UAE), 2010 (UK) Head of company: Philip Wride phil@cheesecakedigital.com Agency bio: Cheesecake Digital is a specialist gaming agency with more than 20 years of experience. We create go-to-market strategies and help brands authentically enter the e-sports and gaming market. We also consult for governments and federations. Our experience includes tournaments, live events and lifecycle marketing linking retail and ecommerce companies to gaming.

Delphys Middle East Founded: 2015 Heads of company: Noriyuki Higashi, CEO; Ramzi Abou Dargham, COO; Michel Zouein, regional ECD info@delphysme.com

KEY CLIENTS: TenTime, BLAST Premier, Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS)

In a rapidly changing world, we believe in creating transformational value for brands through creativity, communication design and data. We embrace strategic thinking, innovation and storytelling to deliver compelling content across all mediums and screens.

SERVICES: Strategy, event management, ad campaigns, lifecycle marketing, market research

SERVICES: Strategy, advertising, brand experience and activation, retail experience, analytics


January 31, 2021


Founded: 1971 Headquartered: Dubai info@impactbbdo.ae www.impactbbdo.com +971 4 330 4010

Dani Richa

Part of the global BBDO network, IMPACT BBDO was established in 1971 and offers comprehensive and integrated marketing communication solutions, covering a wide and prestigious base of global, regional and local clients. Our mission is to create and deliver the world’s most compelling commercial content across all mediums. The three things we care about the most are “The Work, The Work, The Work”. SERVICES: Advertising; brand strategy management; content production; corporate and reputation management; design; digital advertising; event management; influencer management; mobile design and development; public relations; shopper marketing; social community management; web design and development KEY CLIENTS: ADCB, Al Alali, DIFC, Ford, PepsiCo, Sadia, Sohar, Visa, Etisalat, Aldar, HP AWARDS: Cannes Lions Network of the Year: 2020; Immortal Award Winner: 2020; The Art Directors Club – Best Discipline: 2020; Dubai Lynx Network of the Year 2019 / 2017; Dubai Lynx Agency of the Year 2019 / 2017 / 2016; Cannes Lions Network of the Year 2018 / 2017 / 2011; Clio Awards Network of the Year 2018

Chairman & CEO BBDO Middle East, Africa and Pakistan

Fouad Bou Mansour

Managing Director, Impact BBDO Abu Dhabi

Samantha Stuart-Palmer

Managing Director, Impact BBDO Dubai

Paul Shearer

Chief Creative Officer, Impact BBDO Dubai


Founded: 2000 Headquartered: Dubai info@impactproximity.com www.impactproximity.com +971 4 330 4010  

SERVICES: Martech enablement; behaviour-changing ideation; content optimisation; connected customer understanding; structured innovation; conversion optimisation; journey mapping; experience design; marketing spend optimisation

Proximity is a digital, direct and CRM network with 25 offices around the world.  In the region, we are part of the Impact BBDO Group.

KEY CLIENTS: Dubai Tourism, Etisalat, HP, Visa, One&Only, ADCB, ACDelco, BMW, MINI, Pampers, Bayer

At Proximity we make people more valuable to brands by creating and orchestrating experiences that influence behaviour through the entire journey. We solve business problems by changing individual customer behaviour by fusing creative, digital and direct with a deep knowledge of consumer insights and data, delivered through measurable customer engagement. Proximity is the most awarded digital, direct and CRM global network.

AWARDS: Most Awarded Network – Caples, Most Awarded Network – DMA ECHOs, WARC’s #1 Digital Network in the World, Adobe’s Benchmark for Creativity, Best Use of Data, Best Multistack Solution, Best Audience-driven Experience PARTNERS: Adobe Marketing Cloud, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Salesforce, Sitecore, TikTok

Dani Richa Chairman & CEO BBDO Middle East, Africa and Pakistan

Syed Azeem Afzal Managing Director, Impact Proximity

Roopesh Prashar Chief Financial Officer, MENAP



January 31, 2021


Digitalks Digital

Eleve Media Advertising & Marketing

Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Mohit Jain hi@digitalks.me www.digitalks.me

Founded: 2013 Head of company: Prince Khanna adil@eleve.ae +971 50 500 2786

Digitalks is a digital analytics and adtech consulting provider for modern digital marketers in the MENA region. Digitalks’ services sit in between the unique fusion of marketing and IT. We help our digital marketing clients by building scalable and technical data solutions to make their digital marketing more efficient and informed. SERVICES: Web and mobile app analytics; ad tech and martech rollouts; reporting automation and visualization; conversion rate optimisation; deep-dive data analysis

Eleve Media is an influencer marketing agency with more than eight years in the industry. Eleve helps brands leverage the power of word of mouth by providing effective advocacy solutions and end-to-end management of campaigns and influencers. Eleve has worked with more than 500 brands, on more than 3,000 successful campaigns. SERVICES: Influencer marketing, performance marketing, video production, YouTube advertising


Engagement Factory

Founded: 2019 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Tony Wazen, regional CEO, Digitas www.digitas.com

Founded: 2012 Head of company: Jos Caelers jos.caelers@engagementfactory.com

Digitas is The Connected Marketing Agency, committed to helping brands better connect with people through truth, connection and wonder. With diverse expertise in data, strategy, creative, media, and tech, we work across capabilities and continents to make better connections and achieve ambitious outcomes through ideas that excite, provoke and inspire. Curious and fully transparent, we are always examining real human behaviour to create authentic connections –between brands and consumers, clients and partners, and ideas and outcomes. Digitas has 3,500 employees across 21 countries and 34 offices, with an extended network via Publicis Media.

A leading global customer engagement agency, we are Engagement Factory. We help our clients transform into true customer-centric organisations by combining strategy and insights, fuelled by creativity and technology. The result: compelling experiences throughout the customer journey, which enable our clients to build long-lasting and valuable customer relationships. SERVICES: Strategic consultancy, creative and content services, marketing automation and campaign delivery, data and analysis

SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying, branded content, CRM, data and analytics


Year Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 28 Hello@netizency.com www.netizency.com +971 4 423 0788

Fadi Khater

Michael Maksoudian

Founder/managing partner

Managing partner

Tamara Habib

Mher Krikorian

Business director

Head of content

Netizency was founded as a high-end boutique agency that evolves at the speed of social media to fill the void in social media offerings amongst agencies. Its services include social media strategic planning and consultancy, digital content creation and design, community management, analytics and reporting, social listening, and media planning and buying. Netizency is a LinkedIn Content Partner, Twitter Creative API Partner, Facebook Marketing Partner, Google My Business Partner, and Google Premium Partner. SPECIALISMS: Social media strategy; social media consultancy; digital content creation; digital content design; digital media management; digital media planning; social media analytics; social listening; digital maturity assessment; social media training, online directory listings, Google Maps listings KEY CLIENTS: TikTok for Business, Liv. (by Emirates NBD), SEHA, Abu Dhabi Mall, Qatar National Bank, Lenovo, Motorola, Expo 2020 School Programme


January 31, 2021

Equation Media

Face to Face Communications Group

Founded: 2013 Offices: Dubai (HQ), Beirut, Cairo, Jeddah and Riyadh. Chairman: Roger Sahyoun info@equation-media.com www.equation-media.com +971 4 453 7711

Founded: 1991 Head of company: Christopher Bell info@facetofaceuae.com

The media planning and buying unit of THE NETWORK Communication Group. Equation Media’s services are propelled by consumer insights and data analytics as they use a fusion of first-rate research methods, experience and analysis to serve clients and help them create meaningful connections with their audiences. Forming the perfect equation through innovation, experience and performance, the team strives in taking a leap forward as we shift from assumption-based marketing into predictive models and relies on an integrated network to craft the right solution to business needs. SERVICES: Strategic media planning, integration of online and offline campaigns, social and content planning, media buying, performance marketing, retail transformation and experiential solutions, data analytics and personalised marketing solutions. KEY CLIENTS: Al Fardan Group, Anker Innovations, BBAC, Dubai Chamber Of Commerce, IFFCO, Interiors, Saudi German Hospital, Solico, Toshiba, Umm Al Qura, Fossil Group, SAMACO Porsche, Bin Sina Pharmacy, Gawamen, Mediatek

A homegrown UAE agency group delivering communications work globally. Despite the worldwide challenges of the past 18 months, Face to Face has grown its team of 50, producing the Messi campaign for Expo 2020, several global Parker Pens campaigns and the Pepsi music campaign for Saudi featuring Hussain AlJassmi. KEY CLIENTS: PepsiCo, Etihad, EXPO 2020 Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, MOTIONGATE Dubai, Meydan, Parker, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Ajman Bank, Nair, Sharpie

Flourish Founded: 2004 Headquartered: United Kingdom and Dubai Heads of company: Richard Hartson, Neil Hecquet (Global), Adele Baxter (MENA) Adele.baxter@flourishworld.com www.flourishworld.com +971 55 276 9322 Flourish is a specialist CRM planning and creative agency. Focused on delivering results for our clients through data-driven marketing, we seek to bridge the gap between data science and strategy. We are experts at turning insight into impact and transforming global brands into personalised experiences. SPECIALISMS: CRM and digital strategy, data strategy and analysis, digital creative, best-in-class HTML development, campaign execution, results-driven account management


Founded: 2002 Head of Company: Wissam Najjar, COO, OMD MENA hellouae@omd.com www.omd.com/uae +971 4 450 0450

Wissam Najjar COO, OMD MENA

OMD is the world’s largest media network with more than 12,000 people working in over 100 countries. As the world grows with opportunities, the key is reacting to them, by making better decisions, faster – combining innovation, creativity, empathy and evidence to help them move faster, reach further, and take smarter risks every day. SERVICES: Strategic planning & investment management, performance marketing, data and technology consulting and implementation, analytics and e-commerce transformation/marketplace management AWARDS: Global Media Agency of the Year 2019 - 2020, Adweek; Media Agency of the Year 2019, Dubai Lynx; Most Effective Media Agency Office 2018, Best Place to Work 2012-2019, Great Place to Work Institute.

Saleh Ghazal Managing Director, OMD UAE



January 31, 2021


FP7 McCann Founded: 1967 Head of company: Tarek Miknas, Regional CEO info@fp7mccann.com www.fp7mccann.com +971 4 445 4777 Part of McCann Worldgroup and the flagship agency of MCN, FP7 McCann describes itself as the number-one creatively driven integrated marketing company in MENA. Award-winning regionally and globally, FP7 provides fully integrated marketing solutions, advertising and digital services. With 16 offices across 14 countries, FP7 McCann is the region’s largest creative agency network. It has been named as the most effective agency network in the region for the last seven years in a row. SERVICES: Social and digital strategy; social audits, playbook creation, consumer journey analysis, content planning, creation, & production; humantech design thinking; meaningful innovation; design/UX; web development; campaign activation; channel management; listening; holistic analytics


The Gamifiers

Founded: 2011 Head of company: Amer Massimi www.hashtag-me.com +971 4 457 8678

Founded: 2013 Managing partner: Sherif Dahan www.thegamifiers.com sdahan@thegamifiers.com

Hashtag tells brand stories on social. Operating in Saudi Arabia and UAE. Hashtag’s core philosophy revolves around creating creative and strategic content that humanise brands on social media. Our team believes that behind every successful social media campaign is a human touch, human interaction and human conversation.

The leading agency specialised in designing and implementing gamification programmes and technology, customer and employee facing, to boost engagement, motivation and retention on web/mobile and apps. With the largest customer base in the region, The Gamifiers has delivered successful programmes to Microsoft, McDonalds, Hardees, MasterCard and Coca-Cola among other leading brands and governments.


SERVICES: Social media strategy; creative content; paid media; analytics; crisis management

SERVICES: Gamification programme design, consultancy, gamification technology platforms, gamification programme ongoing management

KEY CLIENTS: Amazon, Centrepoint, Fitness First, Splash Fashion

Founded: in London in 1990; Dubai in 2006; Abu Dhabi in 2008; Riyadh in 2010; Beirut in 2017; Cairo in 2018 Head of company: Luca Allam, CEO of PHD MENA Info.uae@phdmedia.com https://www.phdmedia.com/mena/ +97144574570


Guided by the ethos ‘Make the Leap,’ PHD is renowned for driving disproportionate growth through transformative and creative ideas. PHD is one of the most forward-thinking media agencies by challenging convention and breaking new ground in strategic thinking and planning. Built on a culture of thought leadership, innovation and creativity, it is one of the world’s fastest-growing agency networks. Globally, PHD has more than 6,000 staff, more than 100 offices worldwide, and is part of Omnicom Media Group. SERVICES: Media planning & buying; strategic planning; data analytics & technology consultants; social & content marketing; SEO; creative services including dynamic creative optimization

Luca Allam CEO of PHD MENA

AWARDS: Network of the Year, M&M Global 2020; Best Place to Work 2012-2019, Great Place to Work Institute; The Most Effective Media Agency Office MENA Effies 2019; 1 Cannes Lion 2019; 1 Festival of Media 2019; 7 MENA Effies 2019; 2 Dubai Lynx 2019; Top 5 GPTW list consistently since 2013; Top 3 Most Effective Office MENA Effies 2018; 5 MENA Effies 2018; 7 Dubai Lynx awards 2018; 3 MMA Global Smarties 2018; Festival of Media 2018


January 31, 2021



Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai www.raw.agency +971 4 334 1140 hello@raw.agency

Ahmad Itani Founder & CEO

RAW comprises a team of digital natives who take ordinary briefs and deliver extraordinary outcomes by bringing innovative flair to every project. We cover all aspects of the fastpaced digital world to offer comprehensive and strategic solutions and utilise them within a plethora of platforms ranging from social to mobile, and everything in between. SERVICES OFFERED: social media marketing; social media monitoring; website design and development; e-commerce brand establishment and activation; digital media buying; programmatic campaigns; data analytics; digital strategy; online content creation; mobile app development; app store optimisation; conversion rate optimisation; search engine marketing; search engine optimisation

Mohammed Ajawi Managing Director

TECH PARTNERS: Nominal Techno; Talkwalker KEY CLIENTS: Arabian Automobiles Company, Dubai South, Dubai Land Department, Dubai Judicial Institute, Wasl Group AWARDS: PRCA Digital Awards 2020 - Best Use of Paid Media in a Campaign; PRCA Digital Awards 2020 - Best Use of Reporting and Measurement in a Campaign


MOHAMMED AJAWI Managing director of RAW


The pandemic did not bring forth changes that were not already in company pipelines; it just ensured that they happen at a much faster pace than the industry was preparing itself to adopt. Every company across sectors all but had to embrace the transition towards digital processes and machinations. Client-side, Nissan and Infiniti introduced e-commerce services as well as virtual showrooms with the convenience of clients in mind. I anticipate more innovations and advancements to propagate company news cycles as the year progresses.


No one could have expected what the full impact of the pandemic would be. From its outset, we worked closely with our clients to help them navigate the market, including tweaking their strategies – developing home test drives and pivoting messages towards a more potent, human level. We also assisted them in optimising their online presences during a time when the world-over was consuming digital media at a far greater frequency. Internally, we developed Matic, a new programmatic product that advances upon the systematic push of digital mediums by establishing a launchpad for clients from which their desired content is positioned and shared to the agreedupon demographic and target audience based on established data sets and KPIs.

WHAT INDUSTRY CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE COMING IN 2021? With the almost complete transition to digital

becoming a reality for companies, the challenge in 2021 is for them to maintain that momentum. The conception and launch of e-services should not be regarded as a trend that was adopted explicitly for 2020. As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic did not necessarily introduce new processes; it just hastened their integration. Audiences have already accepted the digital drive and have embraced the convenience and comforts that e-services are offering them. Companies need to cater to this preference and consistently progress upon their digital offerings further as they are now operating in the future.


Given the current climate, relevancy has become even more challenging than it ever was. With stakeholders almost explicitly seeing and experiencing the world through their screens, digital lead generation and familiarity have now risen to become the number one requirement for any up-and-coming and established company. Coming in at a close second is e-commerce; any business that would benefit from it should establish or develop it at the soonest.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN 2021? With the build-up towards Expo 2020 renewed for 2021, and following a challenging and unprecedented year, I look forward to witnessing and experiencing the resulting innovations and activations. The digital world is continuously evolving, now faster than ever, and the tools that agencies and clients have at their disposal can be used to continually usher in a new generation of innovations.



January 31, 2021


Founded: 2019 Number of staff: 25 Headquartered: Dubai uae@reprisedigital.com https://reprisemena.com/ +971 4 445 4180

Stuart Mackay

General Manager, MENA

Alan Azar Director Marketing Automation

Reprise is part of Mediabrands, the #1 media agency group in the region as per RECMA. We are the world’s largest Digital Marketing network, with over 3,000 experts in 68 offices in 48 markets. We offer a complete suite of crafts designed to deliver customer-centric performance marketing. SERVICES: MarTech & Analytics, Data Science as a service, Business Intelligence, eCommerce, Organic Search, Creative Technology & Digital Marketing Transformation consultancy KEY CLIENTS: RAKBANK, Unilever, Alshaya, Apparel Group, Aujan, L’Oreal, Etisalat, Mobily, STC & Supreme Committee

Riddhi Dasgupta

Director, Data Science and Business Intelligence

Rasha Rteil

Regional Director, e-commerce and Digital Transformation

AWARDS: MENA Search 2019 PARTNERS: Google, Oracle, Tealium, Boxever, Segment, Adjust, Firebase, Lotame, Salesforce


STUART MACKAY General Manager, Reprise MENA

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST LONGTERM CHANGES TO THE MARKET OVER THE LAST YEAR? The changes to our particular market proposition have actually been mostly positive this year. If anything, Covid has sped up the adoption of technology and has driven organizations to need to understand their data and how to leverage it through technology more effectively.


There will continue through 2021 to be a rapid shift toward interacting with customers through digital channels. Social media will become a prime channel for purchase. I also expect to see an increasing use of advanced technologies (ML & AI) and data science techniques being used in marketing decision making. Businesses need to get to grips with their data however difficult

that challenge may be and use it responsibly and effectively.


There were multiple pieces of client work delivered in 2020 that I am exceptionally proud of. However, the plaudits during our 1st year in the region must go to my leadership team for building and growing our outstanding team of professionals. None of what we have achieved last year would have been possible without the support, commitment and enthusiasm of the great team that I am honored to lead.

WHAT ONE DIGITAL HABIT SHOULD WE ALL ADOPT? Put the phone down and be in the moment, far too much of our time is spent scrolling and looking through our phones. Implement “no phone” hours particularly before you sleep at night and during personnel time.


Cross channel marketing is not disappearing anytime soon and the use of several different platforms to reach customers will still be relatively successful. Even though digital ad spend has surpassed traditional means it doesn’t mean that these options aren’t still worthwhile and effective. Marketing measurement will be crucial for brands when determining success, optimizing media mix and reducing wasted ad spend.


January 31, 2021

Hearts & Science

InHype Influencer & Digital Marketing

Founded: 2016 Head of Company: Dana Sarkis, general manager UAE MENA@hearts-science.com +971 4 457 4570

Founded: 2015 Head of agency: Nour El Chaar team@inhype.social

Hearts & Science is a data-driven marketing agency network, part of Omnicom Media Group. The company is pioneering the future of how brands and people interact in the post-media media. SPECIALISMS: Digital transformation, UX &UI, tech and design, e-commerce, marketing science, market & customer insight, marketing ROI evaluation, CRM, digital marketing, search/SEO/PPC, media planning, media buying, analytics, and marketing technology

The end-to-end influencer and digital agency. Efficient and effective marketing solutions for brands, including: creative ideation, strategic planning and analysing, campaign management and execution, and measurement. InHype allows brands to reach and engage consumers, increase sales and market share, generate leads and win over competition. SERVICES: Influencer marketing, social media, display and search, digital media planning and buying, web development

Initiative IAS Digital Founded: 2006 Head of company: Ali Asgar Mir nayeem@iasmedia.com +971 4 4475760 IAS Digital is a part of IAS Media, one of the largest media concessionaires in the MENA region. IAS Digital has an exclusive representation of more than 150 premium international and regional websites. Conceptualising and executing audience-centric marketing communication plans and delivering impactful and measurable results are some of the core strengths of IAS Digital. SPECIALISMS: Digital and social marketing, data driven content marketing, programmatic, lead generation – CPC, CPV, CPCV, CPL and CPA, data analytics, SEO, SEM, in-app advertising

Founded: 2003 Headquartered: Dubai CEO MENAT: Bassem Massoud +971 4 445 4040 www.initiative.com Part of Mediabrands, the number one media agency group in the region as per RECMA. Initiative is a global communications agency built to grow brands through culture. As consumers actively increase their advertising avoidance behaviour, at Initiative we believe that anchoring media activity to rapidly evolving cultural trends provides brands with the most effective route to relevance, and ultimately growth. KEY CLIENTS: Americana, Arabian Automobiles (Infiniti/Renault), Carlsberg, COTY, Danone, Deliveroo, Dubai Media Inc., EDGE Group, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic SERVICES: Advertising technology consulting, communication design, consumer insights, content marketing, digital marketing

Integral Shopper iMetric Founded: 2017 Head of company: Saad Sraj Hello@iMetric.net iMetric is an integrated digital media agency, with offices in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Data, metrics and technology are at the heart of everything we do. We partner with our clients with the aim of growing their business and profitability through multiple digital marketing solutions. We add value to businesses by building dynamic media strategies and plans optimised for maximum efficiency. SERVICES: Creative and development, digital media, consultancy and training

Founded: 2010 Managing Director: Antoine Achkar contact@integralshopper.com We create intelligent promo solutions to influence shopper behaviour and empower brands. Our solutions cover three main facets: couponing, digital promo & fulfilment and trade marketing events. We advise manufacturers and retailers on the most suitable promo strategies and mechanics to boost sales and upgrade brand equity across all touchpoints. KEY CLIENTS: Nestle, Friesland Campina, Unilever, Ferrero, Al Ain Food, Goody, P&G, GSK, Grand Mills, Lifco, Iffco, NRTC, Transmed, Carrefour, LuLu SERVICES: Digital promo activation; promo games and contests; cash back; couponing; trade marketing events; consultancy; brand loyalty programmes, brand activations, clearing, fulfilment

iProspect Inca Tanvir Advertising Founded: 1976 Head of Company: Tanvir Kanji inca@eim.ae www.incatanvir.com Full-service advertising agency, offering 360-degree integrated scientific marketing communication services across all advertising touch points. Reputed for award-winning creative work. Successfully handling the marketing communications of various local and regional clients. SERVICES: Digital marketing; social media planning and execution; web-based and mobile advertising; outreach – precision location audience targeting; SEO and SEM; retargeting

Founded: 2012 Regional general manager: Iyad Tibi www.iprospect.com +971 4 447 4996 info.dubai@iprospect.com We’re not just specialists in diff erent types of digital marketing; we also know how to bring it together. By pu« ing the customer at the centre, we create simple, eff ective strategies that connect with people across every channel. SERVICES: Paid search, organic search, paid social, display, content and creative, conversion optimisation, social media management, mobile strategy KEY CLIENTS: General Motors, Microsoft, Standard Chartered Bank, Philips, MasterCard, Accor Hotels, Estee Lauder Companies, Atlantis The Palm, Dubai Properties, Dubai Parks and Resorts



January 31, 2021



Ravi Rao

Marc Ghosn



Marie Abiad

Matyas Csendes

Head of Strategy, MENA

Head of Digital, MENA

Founded: 2004 Headquartered: Dubai (MENA) and London (Global) Head of company: Ravi Rao, CEO MENA dubai@wmglobal.com www.wavemakerglobal.com +97144507300 Wavemaker is a Top 5 global media network. Our roster of products and services has been built with a single aim – to positively provoke growth for clients and our people through our new operation system consisting of three speeds of growth. As part of GroupM and WPP, we are continually developing our offer to deliver growth in a fastchanging consumer world. Many of our most progressive capabilities are core to clients, including ecommerce, content and precision marketing. Our leading global consultancy has experts to solve any communications challenge, from go-to-market ecommerce strategy to digital transformation. SERVICES: data & analytics -market and audience analytics, data fusion, econometrics and advanced modelling, measurement, attribution and optimisation; e-commerce -retail planning, optimisation and amplification; precision -audience sciences, personalisation/DCO and CRM/ECRM; product solutions -proprietary marcomms and new product development; technology -consultancy and digital transformation, automation, self-learning and Ai; inventory solutions -addressable, premium and supply; search -paid and SEO; social -paid and organic; programmatic -programmatic and native programmatic; content -addressable content, AR/VR, influencer, partnerships, sports marketing, production and IP KEY CLIENTS: Huawei, AXA, Netflix, Perfetti Van Melle, Accenture, American Garden, Chevron, Colgate, DIB, Ford, Friesland Campina, GE, Netflix, Tiffany & Co, RTA PARTNERS: Tealium, LemonPi, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Yougov, Sizmek, TikTok

There is always a better way to grow We positively provoke growth for our clients and shape consumers’ brand decisions and experiences through media, content and technology.

Grow fearless dubai@wmglobal.com | +971 4 4507300


January 31, 2021



Founded: 2009 Managing director: Ziad Ghorayeb www.isobar.com +202 2 735 8442 info.dubai@isobar.com

Founded: 2016  Head of company: Sachinn J Laala, CEO hello@liquidretail.com

Our mission is to transform businesses, brands and people’s lives with the creative use of digital. We believe in ideas without limits – pushing the boundaries of technology and creativity. We’re passionate about the power of digital, and our collaborative culture helps us create transformative work. SERVICES: Marketing & communications; ecosystems & commerce; products & services; transformation consultancy; social & content strategy & execution; creative, campaign development & execution; brand & communication strategy KEY CLIENTS: GSK, L’Oreal, Unilever, Froneri, EDITA, Savola, Sunbolah

Jacobsons Direct Founded: 1986 Headquartered: Dubai jacobsonsdirect.com info@jacobsonsdirect.com +971 4 337 7737

Liquid is an independent agency fully dedicated to shopper marketing and e-commerce. We solve business problems at retail by creating ideas that lead to purchase, wherever, whenever. We believe in harnessing the power of retail to build brands and the importance of creating a winning proposition across all commerce. KEY CLIENTS: P&G, Pepsi, Nestle, Nivea SERVICES: Retail planning, strategy and consultancy; shopper-based creative, design and activation; store-back content for e-commerce; implementation and maintenance of e-commerce assets; e-commerce marketplace management

Magna Founded: 2005 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 445 4647 www.magnamena.com info@magna-global.com

Jacobsons Direct offers new-age marketing and strategy solutions to its customers. Our regional experience dates back over three decades and we have helped some of the leading global brands to gain more customers, achieve customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. And above all, accelerate sales and profits.

A full-service agency, we combine the power of data and technology with creativity and innovation to devise tailor-made business solutions that deliver business results. Add to this research, insights, strategies, constant innovation and the most competitive rates, capitalised through our group’s clout.

SPECIALISMS: Customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and solution, market research, data management and analytics, direct and digital marketing, customer experience management, CX listening and measurement, in-house call centre, profiled mailing lists

KEY CLIENTS: Unilever; Subway; Dubai Holding Group; Dubai Properties; Atlantis; Mezzan Holding Co; Air Arabia; twofour54; Galadari Ice Cream Company; Abu Dhabi University; Banque Saudi Fransi; Al Nahdi Medical Co; Integrated Telecom; Banque Libano-Française

KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, FCA, Ferrero, Arabian Radio Network (ARN), GEZE, Jotun, National Bonds, Fendi, Sephora, Boeing, Shurooq

SERVICES: Communication strategy, omichannel strategy, content strategy & creation, media planning, media buying

Larmo – Creative Marketing Factory Founded: 2014 Head of Company: Mohamed Elghazaoui mohamed@larmoagency.com www.larmoagency.com +212 6 61 26 81 09 

Marr-keting Founded: 2021 Head of Company: Charis Marr hello@marr-keting.com

SERVICES: Social media management, e-commerce, media buying, content creation, digital activations

We are an agile and fast-growing marketing company designed to support ambitious start-ups and determined scale-ups through digitisation. We support the success of businesses in the digital world by providing end-toend marketing solutions to set up and grow businesses online with flexible packages to fill your marketing gaps.

KEY CLIENTS: Davidoff, Clipper Lighters, Holmarcom Group, Kettani Immobilier, Diamantine

SERVICES:  Web design & development, e-commerce, digital marketing, social media, dynamic advertising

A full digital service agency focused on data, innovation and creativity, operating in Morocco and Africa.

Like Digital & Partners Founded: 2011 Heads of company: Richard Mogendorff, Karl Escritt, and Alex Tovey karl@like.digital Like Digital & Partners is an award-winning agency with offices in London and Dubai, offering expert digital transformation and e-commerce services to the world’s leading luxury brands. Everything we do is driven by business growth and innovation for our clients; from strategy and development to design and content marketing. KEY CLIENTS: Majid Al Futtaim Group, Chalhoub Group, One & Only Resorts, Atlantis SERVICES: Global e-commerce launch and strategy, digital transformation, user experience, conversion rate optimisation solutions, digital strategy

Matrix Public Relations Founded: 1999 Headquartered: Dubai CEO: Hilmarie Hutchison www.matrixdubai.com support@matrixdubai.com +971 4 343 0888 Matrix Public Relations is an independent boutique public relations firm based in Dubai. We specialise in providing PR counsel and services to help our clients enhance their brand equity and corporate reputation in the region. SPECIALISMS: PR; social, influencer and digital marketing, crisis management KEY CLIENTS: Acronis, Al Muqarram, Century Financial, Dabur, Himalaya, House of Biori, India Gate, Kaya Skin Clinic, Oxford Business Group, Steve Madden



January 31, 2021



Media Mileage

Founded: 2019 CEO: Mai ElAmeen info@maverick-me.com www.maverick-me.com +971 4 770 7750

Founded: 2012 Head of Company: Usman Qayyum Headquartered: Dubai www.mediamileage.com usmanq@mediamileage.com +971 4 4558431

With offices in Dubai and Cairo, Maverick is an independent, consumer-focused, data-driven digital marketing and communication agency that leverages market research to develop strategies that deliver business results. Maverick specialises in digital marketing, web development, search (SEO +SEM), social media (strategy, paid and community management), content marketing, creative development and digital production. SERVICES: Digital marketing, SEO, social media (strategy, paid and community management), creative development, digital production

Media Mileage is a full-service mobile marketing firm in Dubai. We are a team of experienced mobile strategists who share a passion for creating mobile user experiences. Our award-winning SMS campaign management solutions have strengthened consumer engagement for many of the world’s leading brands. SERVICES: SMS marketing; mobile video marketing; mobile application marketing; mobile couponing; Bluetooth marketing

Merkle Founded: 2000 Head of company: Eyad Abdul Khalek mena@mediacom.com

Founded: 1988 (Globally); 2012 (UAE) VP & managing director MENA: Rudy Banholzer www.merkleinc.com projects@merkleinc.com +971 4 421 8099

At MediaCom, we help people, brands and businesses unlock their growth potential through media. We do this by having a big picture perspective across the whole communications system that has led us to pioneer our Systems Thinking philosophy. We are invested in helping our people unlock their own growth potential and believe that if we put our people first, we’ll deliver better results not only for our teams, but also for our clients.

Merkle is a leading data-driven, technology-enabled performance marketing agency. We help brands transform their marketing into people-based marketing that works; we create, target, and measure the highly customised customer experiences that not only drive immediate results in the form of today’s response and conversion, but also build on tomorrow’s increased loyalty and customer value.

KEY CLIENTS: Richemont, adidas, Mars, NADEC, Olayan Group

SERVICES: Customer strategy, digital media, customer experience & engagement, loyalty, data, analytics, marketing technology


SERVICES: Media strategy, buying & planning; performance marketing; e-commerce; digital transformation & acceleration; creative systems

KEY CLIENTS: Agility, Al Tayer, Bateel, Bayara, Daman, Dolby, EGA, MG, NBF, Kellogg’s, Pioneer, UNICEF, Zeiss


Founded: 2018 merger Headquartered: Dubai dubai@wundermanthompson.com www.wundermanthompson.com +97144507200

Nassib Boueri

Chafic Haddad

Chief Executive Officer, MENA

Chief Creative Officer MENA

Imad Ghnatios

Chiara Anzovino

Chief Financial Officer, MENA

Chief Talent Officer, MENA

ABOUT: Wunderman Thompson is a growth partner - part agency, part consultancy, part technology company. We inspire growth by applying inspiration everywhere across the consumer journey. Our inspiration is borne of bringing creativity, data and technology together. SERVICES: Commerce, Communications, Consulting, CRM, CX, Data, Health, Production, Technology, Apps KEY CLIENTS: Microsoft, STC, Dubai Tourism, Jotun, Shell, Unilever, Nestle, GSK, Burger King, Renault, Coca Cola, Vodafone, Johnson & Johnson


January 31, 2021


Mothership Tech

Founded: 2015 Head of company: Tarek Dajani, CEO, Middle East and Africa Hello@mirumagency.com www.mirumagency.com/mea +971 4 368 6562

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dublin, Ireland stuart@chatbuilder.com

In 24 countries throughout the world, our company is united by a shared desire to be global and interconnected, to work collaboratively with clients and to break down the silos that keep brands from delivering meaningful customer experiences. We like to learn from the data how to make things better.

Mothership exists to solve digital business problems with simple software solutions. Our hero product ChatBuilder.com provides brands with digital outreach spanning Health, Legal, Banking & Energy Sectors currently. It specifically helps the utility industry with OCR meter reading scans on mobile (Utility Module) as well as simplifies the Know Your Customer onboarding process (KYC Module).

SPECIALISMS: Service innovation; experience design; content and commerce activations; data science and analytics

Mindshare Founded: 1999 Headquartered: Dubai CEO: Tony Bourached www.mindshareworld.com +971 4 454 7444 Tony.bourached@mindshareworld.com

Mojo Founded: 2005 Head of company: Serge Viranian serge@mojo-me.com

SERVICES: Communication strategy and implementation; optimised media

A brand communications agency that gets digital. A digital agency that gets design. A design agency that gets social. A social agency that gets content. A content agency that gets advertising. An advertising agency that gets PR. In short, a brand communications agency that just gets it.

KEY CLIENTS: Yum! (Pizza Hut), HMD Nokia, Al Safi Danone, General Mills,

SERVICES: Digital strategy & consulting; social media and influencers; content creation and production; brand & performance advertising; digital design and development

We are the largest agency in Group M, WPP’s media investment management arm, the #1 media holding group globally with billings of $45.1bn. investment; performance-led media solutions; social media, research and insights; digital specialists; creative ideation

Dyson, Nike, Tunisie Telecom, Kuwait Financial House, National Commercial Bank, Rolex, Sanofi, IHG, Lufthansa, Volvo, Kimberley Clark, Monoprix, Touch, HiCart.com, Fine Hygienic Holding, IBM, QNTC, Mobily, Ooredoo

YouExperience is an independent brand communications agency with a fearless spirit and a curious lens that’s constantly training its focus on the cultural zeitgeist, emerging technologies, Gen Z and postmillennials. Our audience-first approach, combined with piercing strategic insights and data-informed creativity, enables us to forge meaningful relationships between brands and people. SERVICES: Transformational brand strategies, data analytics, cross-media integrated campaigns, digital storytelling, branded activations, shopper marketing, social media management, MR (mixed reality) gaming, e-commerce optimisation.


Fadi Nakhle

Vijay Simon

Managing Director

Chief Innovation Officer

KEY CLIENTS: Head & Shoulders, Gillette, Venus, Ariel, Tide, Downy, Oral-B, Kraft, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Flake, Toblerone, Barni, Relx, Al Osra Sugar, Afia Oil

Founded: 2013 Number of Staff: 38 Headquartered: Dubai, Beirut, Cairo WantResults@youexperience.net www.youexperience.net +9714 4255944

AWARDS: We’ve got our fair share of awards. But what we really value over metals are our longstanding client relationships and employee retention; they are definitive signs of our transformative brand building, brave thinking and successful collaborations that lead to continuous growth.

Martino O’Brien

Maria Akmaji

Brand Experiential Director

CSD - Head of Digital



January 31, 2021




Founded: 2009 Regional managing director: Jad Hindy jad.hindy@mrm-mccann.ae mrm-mccann.ae +971 4 445 4362

Founded: 2012 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Khaled Abounader, chief product officer, Publicis Media www.performics.com

MRM//McCann is an integrated digital services agency. We help brands grow meaningful relationships with people – building, maintaining, measuring and optimising data-driven creatively led technology to enable customer experiences. We believe in the power of creativity, the magic of technology and the beauty of data. As a global network, we are a digital leader in this space. With 50 people based in Dubai ,we are connected to a global network of more than 3,000 globally, across more than 30 offices.

As the original performance marketing agency, Performics is the premier revenue growth driver for many of the world’s most admired brands. Across 57 countries, Performics leverages data, technology and talent to create and convert consumer demand wherever it is expressed – search, social, display, commerce and offline channels. Performics is built for the relentless pursuit of results. Performics is a Publicis Media company and the performance marketing engine of Publicis Groupe.

SPECIALISMS: Integrated performance services (advanced analytics, data, SEO, business intelligence); technology, customer experience management, UI/ UX , digital development; creative & digital design strategy and implementation; CRM (Salesforce, MS Dynamics) deployment and management

SERVICES: Performance media, performance content, planning & insights, analytics and technology, e-commerce

PivotRoots My Networking Founded: 2010 Head of company: Rana Hatem Slim ranaslim@mynetworkingagency.com We support brands in their digital transformation approach and the deployment of a relevant and tailor-made digital strategy. We help you understand this fast-moving world, how to step in efficiently to reach and connect with the people out there, taking advantages of the opportunities emerging every day. It’s all about networking!  KEY CLIENTS: Bio-Oil, Medical Fattal, Sisley, Sodetel, La Ferme St Jacques, international NGOs SERVICES: Consultancy & strategy; digital marketing solutions; content creation; social media management; activations

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Mumbai, India Head of company: Yogesh Khanchandani, co-founder & chief business strategy officer yogesh@pivotroots.com A transformational agency, powered by data and tech, fuelled by creativity. Building on data insights and analytics, we strive to simplify the digital landscape with design thinking and tech innovation. We bring ideas to life for brands by looking beyond the ‘what is’ and explore the ‘what ifs’. KEY CLIENTS (MENA): Kaya Skin Clinic, Zomato, Eilago, Century Financial, AMEX, Emeritus SERVICES: Strategy & consulting; digital media planning & buying; UI/IX; search engine optimisation; data & analytics

Praxis Advertising NAAS Digital Founded: 2015 Head of company: Saad Muhammed www.naasdigital.com hello@naasdigital.com A true digital partner for your brand or organisation, generate leads for your business, enhance your current digital assets, or create awareness online with our digital team. An in-house team of experts in Dubai builds websites, mobile applications, e-commerce projects, web applications and any digital product that will bring true digital transformation to your business. KEY CLIENTS: Transguard Group, Alef Group, Garmin, Abdul Latif Jameel, RAK SME SERVICES: Digital asset development; UX/UI; performance marketing; digital branding; social media

Founded: 1999 Headquartered: Dubai Head of Company: Amitabh Swarup www.praxisadvertising.com sahil@praxisadvertising.com +971 4 328 4843 In the fleeting world of digital ecosystem, we create thumb-stopping content. From snackable to shoppable, our content strategy covers every aspect of the customer journey – awareness, engagement, intent to purchase. In a nutshell, from mind, to heart to cart. KEY CLIENTS: IIM Ahmedabad Executive Education, GEMS Education, Tokio Marine Insurance, Best Insurance, Pirelli  SPECIALISMS: Lead generation, social media management, website UI & development, SEO, content strategy & design

Precise Communications Nexa Founded: 2005 CEO: Amit Vyas support@digitalnexa.com A multi-award-winning agency with offices in Dubai, Manchester and New York, Nexa provides growth-focused strategies for businesses centred around marketing, sales and service. Nexa works with some of the best-known companies in the automotive, education, travel and hospitality sectors. Nexa is the only Diamond Partner of HubSpot in the GCC region and is a Google Premier Partner. SERVICES: Digital and inbound marketing, CRM & sales strategy, account-based marketing & lead generation, social media marketing and content creation

Founded: 2005 Heads of company: Gopal Aswani and Ashik Hasim Info@tobeprecise.com www.tobeprecise.com Precise Communications is a messaging and digital agency that offers endto-end solutions that are developed in-house and include services such as messaging, social media, digital advertising, mobile and web development, SEO, multimedia and creative. Our end goal is simple: bring brands, businesses and consumers together through a holistic and precise approach. We lead this with an award winning, experienced and multi-talented team who are trained and certified to turn marketing goals into practical technology. SERVICES: Social, media buying, consultancy, development and messaging.


January 31, 2021

Publicis ME

RBBi (Red Blue Blur Ideas)

Founded: 1973 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Maher Achi, chief operating officer, ME www.publicis.com

Founded: 2011 Heads of company: Amol Kadam & Devesh Mistry (cofounders) info@rbbideas.com

Today’s brands compete with new technologies, empowered consumers, shifting public attitudes, brand new contenders and much more. Creating leading strategies and powerful ideas that allow our clients’ brands to become unique, irreplaceable, in control and ahead is our purpose. At Publicis, we all share a common ambition: help our clients and their brands to be and to remain the leaders they want to be, to “Lead The Change”. Publicis ME, an integral part of Publicis Worldwide, has a network of 330 offices in more than 110 countries.

RBBi (Red Blue Blur Ideas) is the only UX-led digital solutions provider in the region to combine an in-house usability lab together with research, design, SEO and digital analytics specialisations. Partner with us for research, testing, design, SEO or analytics and work with some the best international and local talent here in the region.

SERVICES: Integrated solutions encompassing advertising, strategic planning, digital strategy, direct CRM, social media, brand and corporate communications, consumer activation, packaging design, brand design, audio/ visual production

SERVICES: UX/UI; usability testing; research; SEO; analytics

KEY CLIENTS: RTA, Tecom, Al Futtaim Automotive, TRA, DHA, MAF, Dubai Municipality, Jazeera Airways, ADNIC

Reach MENA Push MENA Founded: 2007 Head of company: Anisha Patel hello@pushgroup.ae Push has won more Google Premier Partner awards than any other agency in EMEA. We were founded in 2007 and work with companies looking to grow quickly. Our speciality is the speedy execution of the latest marketing techniques. We are also a Preferred Partner for Facebook and a Select Partner for Microsoft. SERVICES: Paid search, paid social, programmatic, analytics, lead generation, shopping

Radix Media Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai CEO: Mohan Nambiar www.radixmediamena.com +971 4 560 6100 Introducing a new era of communications planning. Built as a consultancy practice with a leadership team consisting of the best there is in the industry across media planning, data and insights, strategy, digital and creative content. Providing expert knowledge and experience across industries, we put consumers at the heart of our planning and are focused on client business growth. We are spirited, ambitious and agile. We are Radix.

RAPP Middle East Founded: 2014 Head of company: Colin Talbot, associate managing director Colin.talbot@rapp.com

Founded: 2010 Head of company: Mazen Hallaway, CEO and founder reachmena.com info@reachmena.com Reach MENA specialises in providing a premium brand advertising portfolio for local and international clients. We offer digital advertising and premium display solutions covering popular lifestyle verticals, smart TV advertising, native advertising and data-driven travel advertising. SERVICES: Travel Audience by Amadeus; Emirati Audience; LG Smart TV

Saatchi & Saatchi ME Founded: 1992 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe; MEA; Maher Achi, chief operating officer ME www.saatchi.com Saatchi & Saatchi has grown from a start-up advertising agency in London in 1970 to a global creative communications company headquartered in New York with 130 offices in 70 countries and more than 6,500 employees. Saatchi & Saatchi is part of the Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest communications group. We are a full-service, integrated communications network and we work with six of the top 10 and more than half of the top 50 global advertisers. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to differentiate and motivate. And to change the world for the better. We have an unshakeable spirit and unbeatable attitude from day one at Saatchi & Saatchi that nothing is impossible. SERVICES: Integrated solutions encompassing advertising, strategic planning, digital strategy, direct CRM, social media, brand and corporate communications, consumer activation, packaging design, brand design, audio/ visual production

Science & Sunshine Founded: 2016 CEO: Nadine Ghossoub hello@sciencesunshine.com sciencesunshine.com

RAPP Middle East is where creativity and empathy meet data and tech to drive value for both brands and consumers. In today’s world we know people’s needs and wants evolve almost daily. We believe big ideas can thrive in complex, datadriven ecosystems and still touch people’s hearts and minds.

Science & Sunshine is a story-driven, fearlessly creative advertising agency that smells wonderful. We believe passionately in the power of brands, and that all good selling is good story-telling. Our philosophy is ‘always never be boring’, and we try to inject that into our creative product every day.

KEY CLIENTS: MetLife, Upfield, Kellogg’s, MG Motor, BMW, Emirates Group

SERVICES: Integrated advertising, social and digital strategy and analytics, content planning, content creation

SERVICES: Brand, digital and social strategy; social media content creation; creative; CRM; integrated digital communications.

KEY CLIENTS: Netflix MENA, Peugeot Middle East, Virgin Mobile UAE



January 31, 2021


Serviceplan Group Middle East

Starfish Agency

Founded: 2009 Head of company: Ramy Hmadeh www.serviceplan.ae/en +971 4 562 2800 middle-east@serviceplan.com

Founded: 2017 Head of company: Amer Massimi,

The Serviceplan Group is dedicated to the entrepreneurial success of its clients and is a market leader in the development and realisation of integrated communication concepts. With our Houses of Communication in every important economic region around the world, we are the only independent agency group to provide all communication services from a single source for the creation of truly integrated concepts: the optimal basis for a best brand. SERVICES: Creative communication; media and data; digitalisation and technology; branded entertainment; design KEY CLIENTS: BMW Middle East, MINI Middle East, Rolls Royce Middle East,Bridgestone Middle East

Socialize Founded: 2010 Head of company: Akanksha Goel www.socializeagency.com +971 4 368 9277 hello@socialize.ae Socialise specialises in helping brands stand out on the newsfeed and beyond with an integrated offering across creative, media and technology. Ranked amongst Dubai’s top 100 SMEs, it was acquired by global socially-led creative agency network We Are Social in June 2018. SERVICES: Social editorial management, digital content production, video production, influencer engagement, website and chatbot production, social listening and insights, performance digital media buying and optimisation

www.starfish.agency +971 4 457 8678 Info@starfish.agency

Starfish is a leading micro-influencers agency in the GCC region that runs creative influencer marketing campaigns for the region’s biggest brands. Starfish operates an app with over 10,000 influencers from the region. We launch influencers campaigns at scale, given our solid relationships with most of the influencers around GCC countries. Our influencers database has the attributes client look for: relevance, reach & trust. SERVICES: Influencer marketing; influencer strategy; content creation; influencer analytics; reporting KEY CLIENTS: Samsung, Ralph Lauren, Molten Brown, Maxfashion, Wunderman Thompson

Tactical Founded: 2013 Head of company: Mike Khouri, managing director hello@wearetactical.com Tactical is a social-first creative agency that delivers bold mobile experiences, driving global brands to the intersection of innovation and culture. We’re here to build a legacy and be the changemaker of how agencies operate. We offer a full-service approach, closing the loop between strategy, content, distribution and intelligence. KEY CLIENTS: Spotify, Amazon, Etihad Airways, Jumeriah SERVICES: Strategy, content, distribution, intelligence

Spark Foundry


Founded: 2000 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Alain Brahamcha; regional CEO www.sparkfoundryww.com

Founded: 2000 Group CEO: Reda Raad romy.abdelnour@tbwaraad.com ghassan.kassabji@tbwaraad.com

Spark Foundry is one of five global media agency brands within Publicis Media, a key division of Publicis Groupe. Spark Foundry’s bold vision harnesses the spirit of a startup combined with the soul of a powerhouse that melds an entrepreneurial, innovative business approach with the full resources, capabilities and marketplace clout of Publicis Media. With 3,500 employees across the world, the agency leverages the best industry talent to service clients such as LVMH, Emirates NBD, DCT, Mondelez, YAS Marina Circuit, MAF, Almarai and Marriott.

We are “The Disruption Company”. Named one of the most awarded agencies in the world by The Big Won Report, and amongst the bravest on the planet by Contagious Pioneers, we create disruptive ideas that locate and involve brands in culture, giving them a larger share of the future.

SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying, branded content, e-commerce, data and analytics

Starcom Founded: 2000 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Racha Makarem, regional CEO, Starcom www.starcomww.com Starcom is a world-renowned media communications agency that architects connected human experiences to create value through precision marketing, content and technology solutions. With more than 5,000 employees worldwide, Starcom partners with the world’s leading marketers and new establishment brands, including DTCM, Expo 2020, McDonald’s, Samsung, P&G, MIRAL, Meydan Group, FCA and VISA. Starcom is part of Publicis Media, the global media solutions group, a key division of Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s leading communications groups. SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying, branded content, e-commerce, human experience and research

SERVICES: Integrated marketing communications; strategic brand management; advertising; digital, social and mobile; public relations

Team Red Dot Founded: 2010 Head of Company: Raksha Khimji info@teamreddot.com teamreddot.com A full-service advertising agency specialising in ad tech solutions, we guarantee campaign amplification through real-time reporting and detailed analysis to maximise reach while optimising budgets. Our regional insights and diverse client portfolio have helped us build an extensive web of media expertise. SPECIALISMS: Data analysis and consumer research; AI-driven ad tech; mobile marketing; SEM, SEO and app store optimisation; performance marketing KEY CLIENTS: Etihad Airways, Jashanmal Group, Marmum Dairy, CFI, Abu Dhabi Coop, Tata Group, Bavaria, Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Avani Hotels, Middlesex University, Al Barari, Savills, Emami Group, Redington Gulf, IFFCO, IHG Group Saudi Arabia, Caesar’s Bluewaters Island, Fairmont Riyadh, W Residences, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Creative Zone, Sharjah Media City (Shams), The Pet Shop, Tilda Rice, Barry Callebaut


January 31, 2021

The Tribe

Watermelon Communications

Founded: 2006 Head of company: Robert Mitchell, CEO business@thetribe.com

Founded: 2001 Head of Company: Madhu Kuttat info@watermelonme.com

We are a digital transformation tribe. A branding tribe. A creative tribe. We are a tribe that wants to make great work, to craft fantastic experiences that make people talk, laugh and come back for more. Combining strategic and creative thinking with tech know-how. We innovate. We deliver. We solve.

At Watermelon, our digital experts with proven track records offer services to clients and develop overall digital brand and marketing strategies that are in sync with their communication objectives. Internet marketing, designed to meet needs of today’s consumers, provides measurable results for companies. In April 2018, Watermelon joined with 3AW, a global network of independent full-service communication agencies.

KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Global Market, ACWA Power, ADNOC, Al Masaood, Cultural Foundation, Dubai Tourism, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn, Royal Commission for Makkah and the Holy Sites, Savills, St. Regis, Tcell, Visa International SERVICES: UX strategy, UI design, mobile, search, social

Ubrik Media Founded: 2009 Head of company: Monash Unny Headquartered: Dubai Monash.unny@ubrik.com; Sarfaraz@ubrik.com We are a digital marketing agency in Dubai. We help businesses improve their marketing and sales through leveraging media, social media, web design and content marketing. That being said, we have expertise in digital media planning and buying, social media management, content marketing and inbound marketing for large B2B companies in the region, and we have been doing it for almost a decade. SERVICES: Demand generation, digital media, content and inbound marketing, sales and marketing automation, marketing strategy and website development

KEY CLIENTS: Ambassador School, Logicom, Royal Brunei Airlines, Transfast, Weetabix SERVICES: Digital strategy and marketing; mobile network advertising; social media advertising; programmatic advertising; SEO, SEM and Google Display Networks

Wetpaint Creative Digital Solutions Founded : 2007 Offices: Dubai (HQ), Beirut, Jeddah and Riyadh Chairman: Roger Sahyoun info@ewetpaint-media.com www.wetpaint-mena.com +971 4 453 7711 Wetpaint provides digital solutions ranging from web development to social networking, mobile applications, planning and strategising, content management, crisis management and social media policies among others. SERVICES: Digital marketing, social media marketing, web/app design and development, content creation, digital video production

KEY CLIENTS: Bosch, Siemens, GAWAMEN, Hasbro, Hershey’s, IFFCO,


Langnese, SAMACO, Yamaha Motors

Founded: 2001 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 445 4545 www.umww.com


At UM we are committed to Futureproofing our clients’ businesses for the now and the next. We leverage the transformational power of rich business analytics and real-time intelligence to maximise growth and activate the full consumer journey across content and connections. Our consultative approach and agile model drive better business outcomes for brands.

Founded: 2021 (formerly Geometry MENA) Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Nick Walsh, CEO nick.walsh@vmlyrcommerce.com

KEY CLIENTS: STC, Emirates, BEKO, The Coca-Cola Company ; Reckitt Benckiser, Al Shaya Group, FAB; Ford; L’Oréal Middle East; Hershey’s; Homes R Us; Johnson & Johnson; McDonald’s; Rani; RAK Bank; Spotify; Sony; Talabat; Vimto; VOX ; American Garden, Honeywell, JA Resorts, Mattel, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Orange, Byblos Bank, Qatar Foundation, Getir

VMLY&R COMMERCE sits at the centre of WPP’s commerce and experiential pillars, offering brands future-fit solutions that lead to conversion. We focus on the inseparable relationship that binds CX/UX with shopper XP to deliver tangible solutions at the moments that matter.

SERVICES: Consulting; content marketing; data; digital marketing; holistic analytics; influencer management; media buying

KEY CLIENTS: Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Arena, British American Tobacco, Twitter, Colgate, The Galleria Al Maryah Island Abu Dhabi, Roads & Transport Authority, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, BP Castrol, Global AI Summit, Dubai Taxi Corporation



Founded: 2017 Heads of company: Karl Mapstone, head of Middle East; Gill Findlay, CEO karl@vamp.me hello@vamp.me

Founded: 2003 Heads of company: Raja Trad, executive chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA; Firas El Zein, regional CEO www.zenithmedia.com

Vamp is a platform that connects brands with digital creators. Whether for influencer marketing or content creation, its tech streamlines the collaboration process. With its global, invite-only community of creators, Vamp is able to bring its clients including Adobe, Huawei and TikTok highly effective campaigns. SERVICES: Influencer marketing (original content shared with engaged audiences); bespoke mobile content (available raw, or in optimised ad formats); ads and paid media (targeted amplification of influencer content)

Zenith is The ROI Agency. The first agency to apply a rigorous and objective approach to improving the effectiveness of marketing spend, Zenith transforms businesses and brands through evidence-led thinking. Supported by Publicis Media’s global practices, Zenith offers its clients a full range of integrated skills across communications planning, value optimisation, performance media, content creation and data and analytics. SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying, branded content, e-commerce, data and analytics


New Group Acquisitions





Unlock the Power of New Audiences 91M





January 31, 2021


Consent, Content, and Collaboration DMS’s Fahed Moubarak explains how to unlocking the new Cs of the new digital era By Fahed Moubarak, Business Director KSA, DMS


e-commerce and Covid-19 pushing brands towards digitalisation. Marketers are struggling to target, pace, measure and assess the creative’s impact on overall digital media consumption. Aside from threatening both privacy and data, the entire digital ecosystem is causing digital marketing budgets to decline, as targeting is wasted on the wrong users receiving irrelevant messaging. Marketers struggle to navigate between KPIs and meeting regulatory obligations to ensure data security. Despite the rising challenges, opportunities do exist for major players.

purchasing funnel within the same ecosystem.

For performance marketers and publishers alike, the current formula is straightforward: Seek permission before gaining access to personal data. This raises the more important question of whether the real danger is to privacy or data? Privacy: The unit of measure users best understand about themselves and thrive to protect. Data: The abstract portrait of who they are, which exposes them to being more vulnerable as their personal autonomy is breached and compromised.

What exactly changed?

The uncertainty of our times has resulted in people viewing their identity very differently. Here’s how performance marketers can start to complement the efforts of premium publishers: Replace “targeting and collecting leads” with “reaching out to fellow humans”. Replace traditional marketing differentiators such as “nationality, gender, behaviour” with “needs, wants, life stories, experiences, and connections”. Replace “here’s why YOU need to purchase this…” with “here’s OUR story that you can relate to”.

Here are some cases that prove that no company is immune: Facebook’s series of data breaches: Including but not limited to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the realisation that major apps continue to illegally share user data with Facebook, and the 50 million accounts exposed in September 2018.

In today’s world, data management platforms (DMPs) risk losing scale. This is a golden opportunity for standalone premium publishers to scale up their user base by focusing on improved content strategies that attract users’ first-party data (the most valuable source for earning revenue), while leveraging their contextual targeting capabilities. This data helps them better understand which content users are looking for. To accomplish this, users need to feel comfortable sharing their data. Building a strong relationship based on trust is the key to uncovering the true value of first-party data, and with it comes a responsibility on premium-publishers to increase opt-in rates while creating a safe space for users to view native content, especially since they hold the most powerful insights into what their users find meaningful and engaging.

he last few years have felt like a reality adaptation of Georges Orwell’s 1984: Big Brother is watching you. He is watching, storing, and analysing your personal data. With tremendous fear surrounding what large companies are doing with this data, users have lost trust in performance-driven marketers. As privacy ecosystems increase in complexity, advertisers are facing challenges that require them to go back to the original meaning of Big Brother: Someone who doesn’t watch you, but rather watches over you.

Is the real monster threatening privacy or data?

Security and privacy vulnerability with Amazon:

Another big database from February 2020 containing millions of European customers’ records was left unsecured on Amazon Web Services – for anyone to find and access – by a third-party company unknown to users. The threat is not just to privacy and data but also to performance marketers, especially with the rise of

“After playing it unsafe using machine learning rather than content development and creativity, brands must start building the right narrative and join forces with premium publishers.”

Between Apple’s deprecation of mobile identifiers and Google’s looming depreciation of third-party cookies), as well as the strict implementation of the GDPR in the EU (2016) and the CCPA in California (2020), advertisers began filtering tools that allow them to ethically use the same data and turn their focus towards creativity and data-driven stories that showcase the human side behind brands.

Turning challenges into opportunities

If content is king, then publishing is the kingdom.

This responsibility does not only rest on premium publishers’ shoulders, as advertisers are leaning back on them and their users’ data to reach relevant audiences and seek ROI. With rich media engaging placements, native formats, branded content opportunities and performance positioned formats, premium publishers enable advertisers to create stories on an editorial and advertising level, which allows them to communicate with users across multiple touchpoints. As a result, brands are motivated to utilise better storytelling that fits naturally into publishers’ websites. This way, users can seamlessly be part of all stages of the

Joint efforts in the new age of digitalisation

Better performance is the outcome of bespoke imaging and adequate targeting capabilities. After playing it unsafe and focusing on performance outcomes and sales using machine learning capabilities rather than content development and creativity, brands and media agencies must start building the right narrative and join forces with premium publishers.

Changing the narrative for better identity marketing


January 31, 2021




Founded: 2008 Headquartered: Los Angeles, Istanbul and Singapore www.adcolony.com +971 4 405 4100 warrick.billingham@adcolony.com

Founded: 2012 Headquartered: London, United Kingdom +971 4 425 3300 www.adludio.com

AdColony is the premier in-app marketplace for brands and agencies to reach consumers on the most intimate screen in their lives with 100 per cent measurable, transparent and brand-safe inventory and industry-leading viewability.

Adludio is a global, independent creative tech trading desk that specialises in delivering excellent ROI on mobile by marrying brilliant creative, optimised with real-time data and media decisioning. Uniquely, Adludio has more than five years of creative data intelligence, giving deep insights into how consumers engage with ads.

SERVICES: Thanks to our award-winning Aurora HD Video, Aurora HD Playables, and Instant-Play HD Video technologies, coupled with support for IAB standards for video and display, AdColony offers the most flexible and most effective campaign options in the industry

SERVICES: sensory mobile advertising; mobile marketing; data-driven marketing; programmatic



Founded: 2002  Headquartered:  Copenhagen, Denmark.  adform.com  +971 55 454 5222 pawan.setpal@adform.com

Founded: 2009 Headquartered: Germany a.rudyuk@admitad.com

Adform is the only global, independent and fully integrated advertising platform built for modern marketing. Its unique enterprise technology – Adform Flow – harnesses superior user experience and a scalable, modular and open architecture, to enable seamless management of the whole campaign life cycle. MAJOR CLIENTS: Vodafone, Beiersdorf, Coty, Publicis Group, Interpublic Group (MCN), WPP, Omnicom Media Group, dubizzle, Perform Group KEY SERVICES:  Integrated Advertising Platform, Identity Solution, Ad Serving, Dynamic Creative Optimization

MENA PARTNER: The TechVantage

Developing affiliate partnerships between e-commerce merchants and online publishers on cost per action basis. Providing monetisation solutions for online business. Helping people earn money online anytime, anywhere. SERVICES: Bringing affiliate marketing in the MENA region and globally to a new level with the most transparent and tech advanced affiliate network, admitad.com KEY CLIENTS: Aliexpress, Nike, Booking.com, Shein, SharafDG, Flydubai, Amazon MENA PARTNERS: STC, Liv bank, AirArabia, Skywards, etc.


January 31, 2021



Founded: 2017 Headquartered: UK mea@ad-lib.io

Oliver Marlow-Thomas Founder

Ad-Lib is a creative management platform for brands to store, deploy and optimise all digital creative, enabling every ad to be useful and relevant to the consumer. Our creative automation technology (which includes AI for image resizing and video editing) enables brands to scale creative globally while making significant time and cost-savings. As Marketing Partners of both Google and Facebook, we help clients to maximise these key relationships while delivering cross-channel creative across display, video and social.

Adit Abhyankar CEO

SERVICES: Dynamic creative optimisation (DCO); creative personalisation at scale; creative AI automation; cross-channel reporting; auto trafficking KEY CLIENTS: Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, Reckitt Benckiser, Nestle, Dubai Tourism, eToro, Expo 2020, Virgin Mobile, American Express, Dyson, Estee Lauder, Shell, L’Oréal, NFL MENA PARTNERS: Google, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube

Janira Hernandez Head of CS, MEA

Founded: 2012 Headquartered: France celine@dynadmic.com www.dynadmic.com +971(0)545320330 LEADERSHIP PANEL

DynAdmic, a leading platform for precision reach, is a digital media marketplace that allows brands to reach over 1 billion people every month globally.  Our unique proprietary technology uses audio recognition and AI semantic analysis helping media agencies and direct advertisers target their qualified and relevant audience based on their real time interest.

Céline Gauthier-Darnis Co Founder – MENA Managing Director

Stéphane Bonjean

Co Founder – Global Group CEO

Our precision targeting and cookie-free solution brings relevancy and efficiency for all mass or highly specific reach digital campaigns, while providing one of the best brand-safety products in the market. In addition to our technology, our in-house studio, KPI optimization tools, and team are dedicated to delivering a better advertising experience for consumers while promising effective and guaranteed results for brands. Since 2012, DynAdmic has worked with over 2,500 brands in EMEA, USA, and Latin America. SERVICES: video ads; off-social story ads; contextual targeting (1st party data); keyword precision targeting; targeting in 28 different languages available ( arabic, hindi, hebrew, russian,…) in 100+ countries; brand safety; fraud protection; share of voice studies KEY CLIENTS: Unilever, McDonald’s, Mercedes, Etisalat,  Chanel, LG, Philips, Emirates, saudi telecom, Atlantis, Sofitel, Dubai Property, Volkswagen, Sanofi, Visa, Huawei, Sony, Samsung

Yahya Kabbara

MENA Partnership Manager

Lara Krumholz VP Global Partnerships

AWARDS: red Hering, Festival of Media Latam, Digiday, Cristal festival PARTNERS: MOAT, IAS, Youtube, Nielsen, Comscore,  DV360, Campaign manager


January 31, 2021




Founded: 1998 Heads of company: Guillaume de Roquemaurel & Vincent Luciani (Global), Rahul Arya (MENA) hello-mena@artefact.com

Founded: 2004 Headquartered: London, UK blis.com +971 52 611 7280 menasales@blis.com

Artefact is a next-generation data services provider, specialised in data consulting and data-driven digital marketing, dedicated to transforming data into business impact and tangible results across the entire value chain of organisations. KEY CLIENTS: Nakheel, Dubai Tourism, Samsung, Dubai World Trade Center, DAMAC, Ooredoo

Blis helps the world’s top brands and media agencies understand real, human behaviour by analysing vast quantities of mobile location data. Delivering the truth about what people actually do. SERVICES: DaaS, audience targeting, location targeting, creative solutions, store visit reports

SERVICES: Data Consulting, Digital Marketing Activation, Data Marketing Strategy, Adtech/Martech Consulting

Crimtan Founded: 2009 Headquartered: London Heads of company: Paul Goad (founder); Oliver Chapman (MD, EMEA), Vivek Kapoor (Sales Manager, MENA) ochapman@crimtan.com

AstraOne Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Germany +971 4 425 3300 https://astraone.io/ AstraOne is an innovative company that specialises in full-service in-image advertising. This can get extra revenue from existing innovatory and offer clients a new advertising solution that allows to avoid standard ad problems such as banner blindness, low ad recall, low user friendliness. SERVICES: In-image ad type, AstraVideo, AstraClick, AstraStory MENA PARTNER: The TechVantage

Crimtan are the pioneers of lifecycle marketing for programmatic advertising. We invented lifecycle marketing to deliver maximum value to our clients. Our results-focused, data-driven advertising is powered by proprietary technology and trading expertise, enabling us to intelligently target potential customers throughout your customer lifecycle, using best-practice marketing. Our clients trust us to deliver excellent customer service and outstanding results. KEY CLIENTS: Mahzooz (Lotto Dubai), MashreqBank, Marriot Hotels, Abu Dhabi Tourism, Jazeera Airways SERVICES: Programmatic advertising, Lifecycle marketing, Creative, Data management, Consent management MENA PARTNERS: ADARA

Founded: 2009 (globally) 2016 in MEA Headquartered: Paris ym@gamned.com; contact@gamned.com www.gamned.com +971 (0)4 442 7307


Gamned! MEA has been launched in Dubai in 2016 and is a subsidiary of Gamned! Group founded in 2009. Gamned! is a programmatic digital advertising company part of UNIFY the digital arm of TF1 Group (the #1 European Media group). Pioneer in real-time bidding advertising, Gamned! addresses all media challenges on desktop and mobile from clients’ loyalty to new clients’ acquisition. Gamned! combines human expertise and cutting-edge technology to offer multichannel programmatic campaigns (desktop, mobile, social, native, video, radio, DOOH) to Advertisers and Agencies, allowing them to target their audiences through agnostic multi-DSP buying and real-time messages customization (DCO). Its multi-awarded tools bring key insights to optimize advertisers’ digital marketing strategies. Gamned! has already successfully optimized more than 8,000 programmatic campaigns across 100 countries in 38 languages and delivers every month about 5 billion customised ads. SERVICES: programmatic advertising campaigns with managed trading desk service including planning and buying on 4 different DSPs (XandR, DV360, The Trade Desk, Verizon  Media) connected to all programmatic display advertising platforms (IAB Standards, Native, Video, Rich Media); social media platforms; specialized and audio platforms; over the top TVs; radio; DOOH; dynamic creative optimization; report & consolidated dashboards; digital consultancy and clients’ accompaniment

Yves-Michel Gabay

Olivier Goulon

Managing Director Middle East & Africa

Global Group CEO and co-Founder

KEY CLIENTS: Al Gandhi group, Al Othaim Group, Al Tayer Group, Apparel Group, Aswaaq, Atasay Jewelry, Axa Gulf, Bank Audi, BIC, BMW, BNPParibas, Braun, CIB, De Longhi, DSquare2, Edgewell, Emirates, Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Guerlain, HyundaiKia, Indigo Living, Kenwood, King Abdallah Economic City, Landmark Group, Lexus, L’Occitane, Lulu, Medcare, Orange, Palazzo Versace, Park Hyatt, Qatar Foundation, QNB, Riot Games, Santander Bank, Sharjah Tourism, SSB/CFF, Taqa – Abu Dhabi Power, Volkswagen


January 31, 2021

Founded: 2018 (Huawei Ads); 1987 (Huawei) Headquartered: Dubai (regional), Shenzhen (global) Managing Director, Consumer Cloud Service for Huawei Consumer Business Group MEA: Adam Xiao Chief Marketing Officer, Consumer Cloud Service for Huawei Consumer Business Group MEA: Doha Marzouk Head of Operations, Huawei Mobile Services for Huawei Consumer Business Group MEA: Liu Tao Head of Advertising, Demand Solutions for Huawei Ads MEA: Kashmala Kamran kashmala.kamran@huawei.com https://ads.huawei.com/usermgtportal/home/index.html#/ Huawei Ads is a real-time advertising marketplace, through which media companies transact ad impressions with accountability, using programmatic technology. With a data footprint that combines both branded Huawei demand and external advertisers, marketers have exclusive access to a global pool of Huawei device users, who are currently not being reached through similar services. SERVICES: Programmatic ad exchange; supply-side platform; demand-side platform; data management platform; exclusive audiences; rich media format; unique app supply; native ads; dynamic optimisation; customer service support

HUAWEI Mobile Services launches proprietary ad exchange – HUAWEI Ads H

UAWEI Mobile Services (HMS) has announced the expansion of their advertising business into overseas markets including the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region. The beta version of the HUAWEI Ads supply-side and demand-side platforms are available to MEA clients and publishers. HUAWEI Ads is a real-time advertising marketplace, through which media companies transact ad impressions with accountability, using programmatic technology. With a data footprint that combines both branded Huawei demand and external advertisers, marketers have exclusive access to a global pool of Huawei device users, who are currently not being reached through similar services. Clients with beta access are currently testing ad campaigns across HMS’s exclusive inventory and third-party app supply, integrating HMS Ads kits via HUAWEI AppGallery – Huawei’s own app store. Customers can carry out brand awareness campaigns, user reach, user growth, and other marketing goals more efficiently. HMS is working with selected partners to ensure clients maximise their ROI with the consistent support from the ads team. The monetisation tool also enables

publishers to achieve higher fill-rates and eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions), with the potential to increase revenue through yield management based on their Ad Stack strategy. Complementing this feature, the self-serve DSP uses programmatic technology to give agencies a tool for their clients’ marketing campaigns. Businesses that deliver an ad through HUAWEI Ads platform for the first time will be eligible for pre-existing funds and incentives from HMS. By becoming a HUAWEI Ads Partner, advertising agencies can be rated based on factors such as client growth, client retention and company performance. The highest-rated partners will then receive additional incentives and stand to be classified as HUAWEI Ads Premium Partners. Adam Xiao, managing director of Huawei Mobile Services in Middle East and Africa, Huawei Consumer Business Group, said: “Our clients across both domains are looking for a one-stop-shop tool to support them in achieving their strategic goals and, at HMS, we are doing just that. We have built our own ad exchange to facilitate brands and agencies, powered by continuous innovation and tech capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning”.




January 31, 2021

It’s Groundhog Day in the ad tech world Are things going to change or is history just repeating itself? By Ayman Haydar, CEO, MMPWW


éjà vu. That’s the main thing I’m experiencing as we close off the first month of 2021. Under normal circumstances, this is usually when I’m at my most optimistic for the year ahead, but let’s be honest, ‘normal’ left town some 12 months ago, leaving behind a gaping hole of uncertainty from which the industry has yet to fully recover. Don’t get me wrong; in comparison to 2020, this year already holds more promise, but if everyone was hoping for a fresh start on January 1, they have had a rude awakening. In reality, it’s more like 2020 Part 2: The Survivors Edition. If last year was all about taking critical action to stay afloat, 2021 is shaping up to be more about asset protection. Low risk, low reward, carefully does it… etc. As a result, this leaves little room for creative thinking and innovation. It feels as though the industry is stuck in a time loop, repeating the same things over and over. Talking about growth at a time when so many are struggling is deemed insensitive, so instead we’re fixated on the same survival tactics, the same technological solutions and the same topics of discussion: death of the cookie, anyone? The latter is actually worth discussing a bit more given we’re a year on from Google’s bombshell announcement, but more on that later. For now, the broader issue here is how we can keep moving forward in this Covid-hit world, planning for the future whilst still being agile enough to deal with the present. I know, it’s a big ask. Digital advertising has long been an attractive option for marketers looking to reach their consumers in increasingly inventive and personalised ways, but even brands were taken aback by the rate of digital transformation forced upon us by the coronavirus. According to a study by the cloud communications platform Twillo, the pandemic accelerated companies’ digital communications strategy by a global average of six years. This essentially upended an already evolving ecosystem, leaving the marketplace even more fragmented than before. Caution is now the default setting for most. While we may talk big about the idea of radical change, ultimately we need to focus on getting the basics right first. In this region, digital adoption has been high on the agenda for a while, but in practical terms it had yet to come to fruition. Fast-forward a year and we’re seeing digitisation underpinning and reshaping many of our key industries, encouraging new solutions and partnerships to emerge as a result. It’s certainly a step in the right direction. What comes next is anyone’s guess. As I’ve said in the past, fortune telling is not my forte. I’d argue that no one is able to confidently forecast anymore because our recovery is not linear; there have been so many peaks and troughs as we ride out this storm. As we face tighter restrictions regionally, our ingenuity and resilience will be called upon once again to keep going and provide whatever services our clients need. This isn’t a time to be selfish, nor is it a time to promise the world and look so far ahead we miss what’s going on in the here and now.

Instead, I think we should double down on the key things that matter, stop reaching for buzzwords in lieu of nothing else to talk about and help move the ad tech world out of this rut by focusing on what we can control, and leave the rest for a later day... preferably when the world isn’t in the midst of a global pandemic. Here are the three talking points I believe will shape this year:


I’ve lost count of the amount of ‘trends’ pieces I’ve read so far this month. January is always the same: articles full of predictions centring around experimental technology with not much thought to practical execution. Look, I’m all for exploring what this could mean for us in future, but right now if it’s not going to make a difference to the bottom line then it should take a back seat. Take VR in a 5G world, for example. Great in theory but I’ve yet to see this really take off in a meaningful way. Instead, I think our focus should be on fine-tuning and exploring existing mediums and leveraging them to be more successful. 2020 marked the maturation of podcasts as a cross-purpose medium for both enjoyment and education. This will only grow in terms of volume (there are currently about 1,750,000 shows online) and subsequent advertising opportunities. Valued at $9.28bn in 2019, the global podcasting market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27.5 per cent from 2020 to 2027, so ignore it at your peril. Gaming is also a strong area for further exploration. As publishers continue to balance in-app ads with in-app purchases, gamers are beginning to appreciate ads as a means of discovery, encouraging them to play for longer and increase their exposure over time. Last, but certainly not least, video on demand (VOD) will continue to dominate. According to Statista, user penetration is expected to hit 29 per cent by 2025, with revenue in this segment projected to reach $85.9bn this year. As the quality of streaming improves on-the-go with smartphones and at home with smart TVs, barriers to entry around speed and accessibility will give way to a race for the best personalised experience. We’ll see more integrated AI monitoring consumer viewing habits to serve up more tailored and intuitive content as a result.


Big tech effectively shapes the internet as we know it, and despite increased scrutiny surrounding everything from data collection methods to anti-competitive practices, it’s consumer privacy that has stayed in the public consciousness. Browser crackdowns over the last few years, coupled with Apple’s impending IDFA rollout and Google’s Privacy Sandbox experimentations (practicalities like segmentation, ad targeting, and delivery still remain up in the air) over the last 12 months show how far-reaching and impactful these changes will be for the ecosystem at large. As for where we are right now, well, privacy will essentially become the competitive advantage for 2021 as more


January 31, 2021

“We should double down on the key things that matter, stop reaching for buzzwords in lieu of nothing else to talk about and help move the ad tech world out of this rut by focusing on what we can control, and leave the rest for a later day... preferably when the world isn’t in the midst of a global pandemic.”

legislation comes into play, particularly in the US as the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) completes its transition to become the CPRA (Consumer Privacy Rights Act), affecting the rest of the world’s data practices as a consequence. Facebook recently experienced first-hand what can happen if you mismanage communication around privacy changes; users flocking elsewhere in their millions. WhatsApp will have a difficult time winning back user trust in the short term, but given the alternative, Zuckerberg has the advantage here and he knows it. That being said, don’t discount growing user autonomy in decision-making. When it comes to shielding their activity online, users are getting smarter and more brutal in quickly abandoning platforms that no longer have their best interests at heart.


No, I don’t mean more on Bernie Sanders’ celebrity mittens, I’m talking about the nature of social media today at odds with how many of us are choosing to actually spend time on these platforms. Unsurprisingly, global online content consumption doubled in 2020, with an accelerated appetite for social media and CTV in particular. A report by DoubleVerify found that, on average, daily time spent consuming content is 6 hours and 59 minutes, which includes phone, TV, and other forms of digital media. From a brand perspective, that’s music to their ears; multiple ways to reach their users and get a seat at the table. Users too have become more accommodating to receiving ads, but only if they match their needs and enhance their experience online. Currently, there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide ready and willing to interact with their favourite brands on the platforms that matter to them. In this vein, I think that TikTok will find itself on a lot more media plans this year as it moves from a novelty to a mainstream form of media and a hub for content creators to monetise. The platform now has more than 1 billion monthly active users and is enjoying phenomenal growth at the expense of apps like Facebook. Time spent on TikTok is up 325 per cent year-over-year, beating Facebook in terms of hours spent per user per month. Of course, Facebook is far from obsolete, especially with Instagram and WhatsApp in its back pocket still reaching that crucial millennial and Gen Z market. What we’ll see instead is more experimentation on each of these key platforms as advertisers look to crack the code of changing consumer behaviour. It’s certainly not as predictable as it used to be, and with the amount of free content skyrocketing, finding the sweet spot will be the number one priority for brands in 2021. At the end of the day, our industry will keep ticking over, perhaps slower than in previous years, but I do believe that in time we’ll emerge stronger. While every business will have its own plan for navigating the year ahead, I’d encourage deviating from it now and then, thinking outside the box where possible and staying top of mind by taking risks and surprising people. For me, Groundhog Day ends now; let’s all move forward together.



January 31, 2021




Founded: 2005 Headquartered: Paris, France www.criteo.com +971 4 556 9000 s.saad@criteo.com

Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Dubai www.thisisfuture.com +971 4 455 3067 info@thisisfuture.com

Criteo is the advertising platform for the open internet, an ecosystem that favours neutrality, transparency and inclusiveness. 2,700 Criteo team members partner with more than 19,000 customers and thousands of publishers around the globe to deliver effective advertising across all channels, by applying advanced machine learning to unparalleled data sets.

FutureTech is a tech-powered digital solutions business. We are always about the next wave and focused on creativity and innovation. We provide media, tech and content solutions to help brands and agencies accelerate in the connected world.

KEY CLIENTS: Booking.com, Sephora, Microsoft, Flyin.com, Sun & Sand Sports, Jumia, Namshi, Starsplay

SERVICES: Business intelligence; online advertising; content and influencer marketing; mobile marketing; media automation services; creative technology TECH PARTNERS: Nexd, Loopme, Storyful, KEY CLIENTS: WPP, OMG, MCN, Havas, TBWA, Dentsu Aegis, Visa , Mastercard, MTN, Vodafone

Facelift Headquartered: Hamburg, with offices in Paris, London, Dubai www.facelift-bbt.com/en +971 4 551 5746 et@facelift-bbt.com Facelift Cloud is an all-in-one social media marketing and management suite. Official Instagram and Facebook marketing partner, WhatsApp business solutions provider. Works to enhance social customer experience. SERVICES: SaaS social media marketing and management suite, tech solutions for enhancing Instagram stories and AMPs, social listening and monitoring, UGC-management, influencer marketing, employee advocacy KEY CLIENTS: Avaya, Chalhoub, Etisalat, KIKO, Lulu Hypermarkets, Magrabi, SkyNews, QA

HAWKEYE – Interactive Video Technology Platform by IAS Media Founded: 2019 Head of company: Ali Asgar Mir ashfaque@hawkeyetube.com +971 4 4475760 HAWKEYE is the first real-time interactive video technology platform in the MENA region that helps brands generate higher levels of engagement than the regular video banners. HawkEye’s interactive features allow content creators to produce compelling videos that can be made more relevant and informative. SPECIALISMS: Interactive video conversions and platform providers for pre-roll, mid-roll, interactive mobile ads, interactive video banners, real-time insightsdashboard, adtech, real-time quiz for activations

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai www.mmpww.com info@mmpww.com +971 4 514 8554 MMP World Wide (MMPWW) is the leading premium global programmatic marketplace. Powered by state-of-the-art technologies and in partnership with DMPs, MMPWW offers a trading ecosystem with targeted inventory, insights, and analytics. Employing a combination of in-house tech expertise with valuable strategic industry alliances, MMPWW equips its clients with the tools and knowledge to better monetise their digital advertising inventory and improve campaign performance. The company also educates its stakeholders on building a safer media ecosystem through the use of ad-tech solutions. With its headquarters based in Dubai, MMPWW has extended its global operations to service and access more than 40 countries, with a growing network of more than 500 publishers and 55 buyers. SERVICES: Video platform (out-stream and in-stream – set your message into motion with our multiple innovative video formats and high view rates); audiences (audience collection, analysis, segmentation and custom segments – allows you to collect and organise a holistic view of data from any source to gain a holistic view of your consumers, to power efficient and effective marketing campaigns and more relevant content); standard display (mobile web and app, tablet and desktop – meet your viewability needs and deliver benchmark click-through rates within the largest programmatic inventory in the region); native (mobile web and app, tablet and desktop – add value and tell your brand story through our native ad formats); High-Impact 10 (multiple rich-media formats and in-house custom creation – when technology meets creativity, everything is possible – rich media formats that secure high performance and high viewability rates)


Ayman Haydar CEO

Nader Bitar Deputy general manager

Sherry Mansour Programmatic demand director


January 31, 2021

Iconiction Founded: 2014 CEO: Sebastien Marteau +971 55 239 1608 Sebastien.marteau@iconiction.com Iconiction has secured various strategic partnerships (du, Careem, Huawei) to bring unique advertising platforms to MENA (SMS marketing, wi-fi advertising, app downloads, sampling). Active in shopper marketing and mobile advertising, we can also target international traveller audiences (such as the Chinese) and launch mobile coupons (Apple Wallet/Google Pay). SERVICES: Chinese mobile advertising; taxi screen advertising (Careem, RTA Dubai Airport) and sample distribution (Careem); du advertising platforms (SMS marketing and wi-fi UAE), wi-fi advertising (4- and 5-star luxury hotels globally); Huawei and Samsung app downloads

Inskin Media

IQ Data

Founded: 2009 Headquartered: London info@inskinmedia.com +44 203 301 9099 www.inskinmedia.com

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai www.iqdata.ai

SERVICES: Rich media; display; programmatic; data; premium environments

IQ Data provides location data-driven products and services for clients in the retail, education, automotive, ad tech and OOH sectors. IQ Data’s core product GeoPlace processes large datasets mapped across venues and points of interest to derive competitive industry intelligence, deeper understanding of customers for audience targeting and predictive analytics for critical business decisions. PRODUCTS: IQ GeoPlace (geo-location analytics and audience segmentation DMP); IQ Halo (geo-spatial data creation and validation technology); IQ Audiences(custom geo-behavioral audience segments); IQ Wi-Fi (wi-fi analytics)

Founded: 2007 Headquartered: San Francisco sojernmea@sojern.com +971 (045 850741) Sojern provides digital marketing solutions for the travel industry. Powered by artificial intelligence and traveler intent data, Sojern activates multichannel marketing solutions to drive direct demand. More than 10,000 hotels, attractions, tourism boards and travel marketers rely on Sojern to engage and convert travelers around the world.

Stewart Smith Managing Director, MEA

Christopher Gregory-Pasha Sales Director, MEA

Built on a decade of expertise analyzing the complete traveler path to purchase, Sojern drives travelers from dream to destination. Sojern is headquartered in San Francisco, with teams based in Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, New York, Omaha, Paris, and Singapore. If you’d like to find out how we can help you, please get in touch. SERVICES: online advertising for hotels, attractions, destinations, cruises, transportation, travel marketing solutions, programmatic, multi-channel, social media, search engines, metasearch KEY CLIENTS: Accor, Abu Dhabi Tourism, DAMAC Hotels & Resorts, IHG, Marriott, Jumeirah PARTNERS: Facebook, Google, Bing, The Hotel Network

Dawn Woodhouse

Sverre Christiansen

Manager of Accounts, MEA

Senior Sales Manager, MEA



January 31, 2021




Founded: 1970 Headquartered: The Netherlands www.lexisnexis.ae +971 4 560 1200 adam.hall@lexisnexis.com

Founded: 2015 Headquartered: India debsena@mfilterit.com

As part of LexisNexis Legal & Professional, we are the leading global provider of regulatory and business information and analytics that help professional customers make better decisions, increase productivity and serve clients better. Our leading products and services are used throughout the world and in virtually every industry and area of business. SERVICES: Media monitoring and analytics; due diligence and compliance; research databases; news media archives; social media monitoring and analytics

mFilterIt is a fast-growing global digital assurance, diligence and safety enabler. It helps the ecosystem to optimise engagement with customers and other stakeholders by eliminating fraudulent transactions like fake installs, bogus engagements, etc. The solutions also help brands in monitoring brand in real-time and protecting it from any kind of digital abuse and comply with regulatory codes. KEY CLIENTS: Unilever, ESPN, Noon, OYO, Max, Cred, Starzplay, Virgin SERVICES: App fraud protection, web fraud protection, brand safety, brand infringement, e-commerce assurance



Founded: 2015 Headquartered: India +971 4 425 3300 www.mCanvas.com

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Beirut www.mediatronic.net +961 1 813 414 +966 11 279 0700 info@mediatronic.net

mCanvas is an experiential storytelling platform that helps brands emotionally connect with their audiences on small screens. Our mobile ads and content marketing solutions make experiences interactive and memorable by etching phone sensors and device features into the brand narrative. mCanvas is creating ‘wow’ moments every day by reinventing formats, building tools and providing a marketplace to run these experiences at scale. SERVICES: Mobile ads, sensory rich media, interactive sponsored content, experiential storytelling, programmatic rich media ads, award-winning ads, mobile video, mobile marketing, HTML5

Founded in 2016, Mediatronic is a technology-driven ad network, built around three key pillars: reach, technology and ROI. We’re focused on delivering performance surpassing market averages, whilst being the most equipped ad tech company for fraud detection, viewability and brand safety. SERVICES: Mobile advertising, video advertising, display advertising, performance marketing, programmatic solutions

MENA PARTNER: The TechVantage

Founded: 2019 Headquartered: UAE Head of company: Gagan Uppal gagan.uppal@thetechvantage.com www.TheTechVantage.com +971 4 425 3300

The TechVantage brings the leading AdTech and MarTech solutions from around the world to the Middle East. We work for agencies and clients to meet and exceed their campaign objectives through smart planning and effective use of technology. Our platforms have won multiple awards around the world and successfully served brands and their agencies since 2006.


Gagan Uppal

Head of Digital & Emerging Tech Partnerships

Manoj Khimji Managing Director

SERVICES: The opportunities offered by The TechVantage include platforms providing artificial intelligence; sensory mobile media, experiential storytelling; html5; conversion optimization; engagement-driven ads; vertical video; in- stream; user retention; augmented reality KEY CLIENTS: Coca-Cola, Saudi Tourism, L’Oréal, Nestle, Dubai Tourism, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, McDonald’s, Nissan, Jaguar, Adidas, Kia Motors, JW Marriott, Atlantis The Palm, The Address, ENOC, Estee Lauder, Rivoli Group, Standard Chartered, Dyson, Ikea PLATFORMS: Adludio, AstraOne, mCanvas, Unruly, Ve and WeChat.

Gayatri Goel

Ivy Hu

Media Director

Campaign Manager


January 31, 2021

Pi Wheel Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai piwheel.com info@piwheel.com +971 4 277 8522 Pi Wheel, by Stackline is a retail intelligence and software company based in Dubai and founded in Seattle, WA by a group of Amazon veterans. Our technology activates data, automates execution, and optimises e-commerce marketing performance for hundreds of the world’s largest companies. SERVICES: Amazon Media Services (AMS); online retail data; e-commerce analytics; predictive analytics; e-commerce SEO and content

Project Agora MENA


Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai http://www.projectagora.com/ +971 4 279 8394 MENA@projectagora.com

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai sense-r.com info@sense-r.com +971 4 277 8522

Project Agora powers local publishers to increase the value of their visitors, so that they can invest in content and services. Using data science, programmatic technology and unique native ad-formats, Project Agora increases publisher pageviews and revenue by successfully matching billions of advertising impressions with thousands of local and international advertisers.

The leading VR and AR organisation in the UAE. We provide ready-to-activate and custom-built virtual and augmented reality solutions for product launches, conferences and exhibitions, entertainment, CSR, job training and health and safety.

SERVICES: (For publishers) automated monetisation, yield optimisation, header bidding, outstream video, content discovery; (for advertisers) brand safety and premium context, results-based media buying options, high-performing native advertising formats

SERVICES: Virtual reality; augmented reality; mixed reality; 360-degree video; web applications

MENA PARTNERS: Al-Khaleejiah, Argaam, Sarmady, PoD, Gemini, Brandformance, Donia Al Watan, Red Media, Regie Alfa Sal, Sport360


Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai taha@totalmediaventures.com www.totalmediaventures.com +971 4 360 4000 Total Media Ventures is an data-tech-driven technology hub offering multiple digital solutions to advertisers in the MENA region Value Lead : A performance platform focused on converting consumer intent into action and driving business performance. Value Data: A video platform offering multiple video formats, viewable and premium environment offering CPCV and CPV buying models Smartifai is a tech platform specialising in contextual and visual intelligence applying machine learning expertise to extract value from digital content . SERVICES: performance solutions to advertisers on CPL , CPA , CPI and CPV

models, which extend to per qualified results; partnership with world class call centre speaking 16 languages; rich media solutions created by our in-house creative studio offering extremely granular targeting capabilities including geofencing, look-alike and trend, to reach the right audience; TV sync, which allows advertisers to leverage our TV sync technology to synchronize TV and digital advertisement to reach the user simultaneously on different levels with ad messages and to increase users’ engagement KEY CLIENTS: Publicis, OMD , Carat, Mindshare , Xaxis, Mediacom, Initiative, Magna Global, BPG MAX, Radix Media, Nissan, General Motors, VW, Ford, ADCB, ENBD, FAB, Citibank, Etisalat, Dubai Properties, Deyaar, Mercedes, Maserati, Pepsi, HP PARTNERS: Hybrid.ai, Adjust, Appflyer, Brightroll, TURN, Mediamath, Bidswitch

Herman D’Souza Co-Founder

Taha Kazmi Co-Founder

Harshada Shetty Associate Director




January 31, 2021

SHAREit Group

Tailwind EMEA

Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Singapore mediasales@ushareit.com www.ushareit.com +971 56 246 9520

Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai www.tailwindemea.net + 971 427 983 94 welisten@tailwindemea.net

SHAREit is one of the world’s largest online and offline advertising platforms that provides users with content streaming, gaming and file sharing service. SHAREit has 1.8 billion users worldwide and more than 70 million monthly active users in MENA. In 2020, SHAREit was recognised as the fastest growing media publisher globally by AppsFlyer.

An advertising and marketing technologies solutions Integrator that enables publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies to cut through the complexity of their digital business and drive it fast-forward. The preferred partner of Sizmek, by Amazon, Xandr by AT&T and GlobalWebIndex in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe & Middle East and North Africa region.

SERVICES: Performance solutions, impact/awareness solutions in display and video advertising formats, retargeting and re-engagement solutions.

SERVICES: Ad server, ad management, dynamic creative optimization, ad verification, DMP, DSP, SSP, yield analytics, audience profiling & segmentation, media planning & buying

Simplifai Labs Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai simplifailabs.com +971 50 456 8261; +971 52 910 7317 contact@simplifailabs.com A marketing technology company that places ads alongside the most relevant and brand-safe environment, protecting brand reputation without storing online cookie data. Our deep learning technology captures in real-time websites’ content sentiment and the emotions that triggers in visitors, prior to placing the ad. This has demonstrated 25 per cent improvement in return on ad spends. SERVICES: Brand safety; high viewability; contextual relevance; cookie-less targeting KEY CLIENTS: Maxus, Omnicom Group, Publicis Media, Radix Media, Wavemaker, DU, EMAX, Emirates NDBD, Himalaya, Mashreq Bank, Marmum, NBO, Noor Bank, RTA, Volkswagen, Zomato

MENA PARTNERS: Mindshare, Dentsu, Phd, Fusion5, MediaTech, JLR, VW, Colgate Palmolive, Chanel, Richemont, Argaam, Okaz, 4Sale

Talkwalker Founded: 2009 Headquartered: Luxembourg contact@talkwalker.com Talkwalker is a listening and analytics company that empowers more than 2,000 brands and agencies to optimise the impact of their communication efforts. We provide companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure, and promote their brand worldwide, across all communication channels. SERVICES: Social content ratings, video recognition, customer data, PR & communications, digital marketing KEY CLIENTS: Adidas, Spotify, Oglivy, Wunderman, Yves Rocher.


Founded: 2010 www.dms-cg.com +971 4 454 5454

Ziad Khammar

Chief Operating Officer

Sally Makarem UAE Managing Director

As the official digital media arm of Choueiri Group, DMS specializes in powering innovative communications strategies which unlock greater success for brands and spearhead business transformation across the MENA region and beyond. We represent more than 25 Arabic language websites across various verticals, reaching 104 million unique browsers and serving 3.8 billion ad impressions every month. Dedicated to excellence, we help you tap the full potential of your brand’s story. SERVICES: Research, bespoke audiences, measurement, branded content, native content distribution, engaging media formats, programmatic solutions.

Fahed Moubarak

George Zakkour

KSA Business Director

Regional Head of Trading and Partnerships


January 31, 2021



Holding company Altice Headquartered: New York (global), Dubai (regional) www.teads.com sales-mena@teads.com +971 44 34 42 34

Founded: 2006 Headquartered: London, United Kingdom +971 4 425 3300 https://unruly.co/

Teads, The Global Media Platform, is the single access point for advertisers to connect to the world’s best publishers and reaches an audience of more than 1.5 billion people every month. Teads’ made-for-mobile ad experiences deliver the best combination of mass reach and brand safety in the market. Teads’ endto-end platform provides a sustainable advertising ecosystem that respectfully connects brands to consumers. SERVICES: Viewable Video Suite, Viewable Display, Teads Studio, Teads Prediction AI, Teads Audiences, Teads Ad Manager, Teads Contextual Targeting

Unruly uses emotional data to deliver brand-safe awesome advertising to 1.2 billion people. We win minds and steal hearts through the power of a datadriven video marketplace. Our superpower is the emotional data solution, UnrulyEQ, with a decade’s proprietary data and tech, machine learning and people-powered intelligence. SERVICES: Premium media, emotional data, brand safety, interactive video ads, unmissable video ads, vertical video, in-stream MENA PARTNER: The TechVantage

TECH PARTNERS: Moat, IAS, Grapeshot, Double Verify, Realeyes, TTD, DBM / DV360, Appnexus, Amazon A9, Oracle, Nielsen

VDX.tv Founded: 2001 (Formerly Exponential Interactive) Head of company: Dilip DaSilva, chairman and CEO hello@vdx.tv sales.middleeast@vdx.tv

TMV Premium Supply Network Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai, UAE +971 4 425 3300

VDX.tv is a global advertising technology company that is transforming the way brands connect with relevant audiences in today’s converging video landscape. We create video-driven experiences that integrate a brand’s TV and digital messages and empower marketers to captivate viewers, compel action, and convert awareness into response. SERVICES: Video advertising, OTT advertising, connected TV advertising, CPV, campaign management

The TMV Premium Supply Network brings the world’s leading premium media brands to the MENA region, enabling cost-effective and targeted programmatic inventory, layered with some of the world’s most powerful data management platforms to deliver successful campaigns time and time again. KEY SUPPLIERS: Bloomberg, The Economist, Wall Street Journal, The Times, F1, Insider, Business Insider, Skyscanner, Ixigo, Ostrovok, Daily Mail

Ve Global

SERVICES: Programmatic supply, programmatic guaranteed inventory.

Founded: 2009 Headquartered: Dublin, Ireland +971 4 425 3300 www.ve.com

MENA PARTNER: The MediaVantage

Ve’s data driven technology products help businesses of all sizes and sectors attract and convert the right audience, with the right message at the right time. Ve’s unique approach combining programmatic advertising with conversion optimisation solutions allows advertisers to seamlessly connect and personalise the advertising, onsite and remarketing experience for customers. SERVICES: Programmatic advertising, conversion optimisation, remarketing, personalisation, creative MENA PARTNER: The TechVantage

Turbine Media Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai www.turbine.media +971 4 454 1159 kassem@turbine.media Turbine is a new breed of media platform based on social creativity and instant marketing. It connects brands with creative social media fans and influencers who share their moments and stories about advertisers’ campaigns. Turbine aims to build a meaningful relationship between brands and people; it utilises the suggested shared content reflecting the real spontaneous moments of social creators’ posts that enhance their authenticity among their friends and fans. SERVICES: Influencer marketing, data driven influencer platform, social paid partnerships

WeChat Founded: 2011 Headquartered: Shenzhen, China +971 4 425 3300 https://www.wechat.com/ WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent. First released in 2011, it became the world’s largest standalone mobile app in 2018, with more than 1 billion monthly active users. WeChat has been described as China’s “app for everything” and a “super app” because of its wide range of functions. SERVICES: Official account development, social media marketing, content marketing, WeChat advertisement, Mini Programs ecosystem, Tencent Cloud MENA PARTNER: The MediaVantage



For enquiries, please contact +971 4 427 3040 or create@motivate.ae

January 31, 2021


News, views & trends from across the spectrum



A GAMING CHAMBER WITH A VIEW From a household hobby to a global phenomenon, the gaming landscape has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past decade, led by the unprecedented growth in power and influence of e-sports. Though it was once was a catch phrase employed by those looking inward at the medium as a means of reflecting an understanding of genre well beyond their industry projections, the world of e-sports has transitioned from a casual meetup of friends and peers to international events with a $34 million prize pool. Riding on the coattails of this success, the region has also been paying its dues to professional gamers and the games they play, hosting a number of events that do more than just tap into the fandom that intrinsically exists among those involved in the medium, represented by developers, organisers, and gamers. These events are also paving the path for a growing number of enthusiasts who would be seeking to double down on their passion, whether as gamers, through an e-sports academy to train the next generation of UAE e-sports stars or as designers through government-supported programmes in gaming being offered by universities.

Ahmad Itani is a passionate educator and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Cicero & Bernay Public relations and the chairman of PRCA MENA

The entertainment medium has always struggled with a state of ephemeral existence that outspoken detractors have generationally condemned it with. However, given the empirical progress it has achieved, it is certainly the criticism that has been rendered redundant and short-lived.

Source: Socialmediatoday.com

GAME CHANGER A redesign fit for kings

For the first time in 20 years, Burger King is completely rebranding itself as an homage to its heritage, while keeping the digital experience in mind with a more minimalist, modern logo. The redesign evokes a vintage motif that has struck positively with audiences who have tired of the glossy, post-modernist branding that permeated over the past decade.

B R E A K I N G T HE NE T Colour ME interested

Earlier in the month, Amazon Prime dropped the ‘me’ from its name to the joy of online sleuths, who noticed the change, and other brands who came back with a flurry of reactions, generating the #WhereIsME trend. A smart marketing campaign or a proof of relevance? I guess only ti__ will tell.

#N OT WhatsSecurity

The world-over is furious with WhatsApp’s lack of interest in personal privacy. People are raising their devices in ire and threatening to switch over to Signal, a competing platform that Elon Musk endorsed and that was developed by WhatsApp’s co-founder. Here’s my take: The upheaval is being blown out of proportion; nothing you share online is really protected, and the small print will continuously be modified in favour of corporates.


January 31, 2021

The Spin “[I] think this would be a great fit for your audience,” gushed a PR email recently. It was following up on another one that the US-based agency had sent a few days before. So, what is such a great fit that it’s worth sending to us twice? It’s “a really great look at the future of taxis & taxi-top advertising in NYC and nationwide, given the push toward zero-emission vehicles from the new administration”. So, not a great fit for a Dubai-based magazine, then. In other questionable mail-shot news, we were pleased to get our invite to the first hybrid edition of the (“fully booked”) Cairo Wood Show. Last time The Spin went to an event like that, we found it hard to get a good view of the main attraction because there were trees all over the place. “Avoid the HERO trap!” (sender’s capitals, sender’s exclamation mark) was the headline of a frankly perplexing email. “We don’t need heroes!” it proclaimed (send-

er’s exclamation mark again). It then leapt into the assertion that “Moral leadership is a verb”. “I moral leadership”, “you moral leadership”, “he/she/it moral leaderships”… Nope, The Spin isn’t sure we agree. The Spin doesn’t know quite which part of our psyche this ad for a gilet offends to make us come out in apoplectic hives, but perhaps it’s the smugness of ‘Matt T’ and his decision to buy a waistcoat just to not look like his colleagues. Or the fact that his colleagues are all wearing waistcoats. Or that some programmatic algorithm thought we might relate to Matt. Or… Perhaps The Spin just still isn’t a “vest guy”. While we’re not huge hyperbole fans, we feel that this film promoter’s heart wasn’t in it when it said its Christmas movie is “as funny and witty as it needs to be”. We’re not sure how funny and witty that is, but we’re pretty sure Mel Gibson has been damned with faint praise.


Dubai Lynx

Cannes Lions

March (Lynx Live) May (Awards Show) Dubai and online

June 2021 Cannes, France

Dubai Lynx is back for 2021, in a hybrid format. The second edition of the popular Lynx Live will be run online in March 2021. Then the customary annual Awards Show will take place in May, where the industry will gather together to celebrate the best work in the MENA region. This year there are 19 awards categories, including the new Creative Strategy Lynx, celebrating “the idea behind the idea”.

Cannes Lions has confirmed that the awarding of the Lions will take place as usual during the third week of June 2021. After the postponement of last year’s awards, the juries will be judging both years’ work and awarding Lions for 2020 and 2021. The current plan is to judge and present the work in person in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which is now open for delegate registrations.

To find out more: www.dubailynx.com To find out more: www.canneslions.com

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Campaign, 31st January, 2021  

Predictions 2021- Industry experts share their outlook and Analysis for the year ahead. Digital Agency and Ad tech Guide 2021

Campaign, 31st January, 2021  

Predictions 2021- Industry experts share their outlook and Analysis for the year ahead. Digital Agency and Ad tech Guide 2021