By Basel Anabtawi, CEO and Co-Founder at Rising Giants Network
I've been in marketing, for oh so long, but it kind of feels like I started a lifetime ago (I'm 37 now so, damn .. 3 years away from 40!). For the longest time, I've been hearing the same statistic - only 3% of the web consists of Arabic content which is supposed to serve the 200 million Arabs online. 7 years since I've heard that statistic - I ask: so, what are we doing about it? well, seemingly, nothing, because that metric did not substantially change in the past decade.
Content production is expensive and time-consuming, but that's not the only hurdle. Scaling is even harder and maintaining that scale is, well, also hard. So, the barrier of entry is quite large for everyday folks who want to get into the insane and wild world of content creation. I spoke to a few successful YouTubers this past week in order to cross them over into podcasting and they had mentioned some of the frustrations they faced as content creators. Some of them all but abandoned their video channels because it takes too much out of them to maintain.
As creators reach a position of scale, they now face the even bigger hurdle of monetization. You see, programmatic advertising doesn't do jack for the pockets of creators if they're not consistently scaling and have over a million people coming onto their pages. As a creator, you now face the hurdle of needing to be your own business development manager and create relationships to ensure there is consistent revenue streaming in. Sure, there are talent management agencies that can get some of that sweet cash over to your pocket but that's reserved for the elite.
So, the question is, what are we doing about it as a collective? For starters, stop focusing on the elite or the top-tier creators to fund campaigns. A multi-layered approach to content distribution always made the most sense - some of your budgets go to the top tier (if needed), and some go to the specialized vertical-led creators who are trying to build something special.
At Rising Giants Network, we might love working with a creator that has 6 million followers but it really is not a necessity, we work with people who have the potential to tell a great story even if their followership count is low. We find journalists, passionate artists, pop-culture enthusiasts, or even motorsports fanatics to build programming with. Their passion is their credibility, and honestly, credibility is everything that matters.
We have to understand those creators go up against a mountain of challenges. From hard-to-game algorithms to thousands of dollars in investment - they need someone to bet on them before they explode into the masses.
Another thing we can collectively do is believe in startups that are bringing Arabic content to the market. Yes, this is a bit of a shameless plug on my behalf, but the reason I took a risk in leaving my (amazing) previous job at Red Bull because I wholeheartedly believe in bringing quality Arabic content to a Middle Eastern audience. Podcasts are now the new frontier of Arabic content. It breeds long-form valuable content that engages an educated audience on an average of 15 mins. FIFTEEN MINUTES! That's crazy talk.
I don't want to take too much space here, but I want to conclude by recapping my two main points: Arabic content can be saved if we empower the up and coming creators to overcome the insane hurdles placed ahead of them, Moreover, we also need to support startups who are taking a chance to build unique audiences and a different proposition.
Opinions in this piece belong to the author.