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Recap of Day One at STEP 2020

Events & Awards

Recap of Day One at STEP 2020

The largest tech festival for emerging markets opened its doors today at Dubai Internet City. The event gathered startups, industry professionals, influential leaders from all across the region in one space, to discuss the latest topics and trends across key industries.

The event is divided into four key industry conferences, where panel sessions and workshops are held. The four conferences are as follows –

  1. STEP Start – This is the home base for founders, startups, and entrepreneurs to learn and share experiences and meet with investors.
  2. STEP Digital – The conference tackled the latest global trends in digital marketing, brands, advertising tech, and content.
  3. STEP X – The conference featured the latest in the future of transport and autonomous tech, smart cities, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, etc.
  4. STEP Money –  The conference brought together banks, payment gateways, processors, fintech startups, regulators and more, to discuss the latest in financial technology.

Communicate attended some interesting sessions at the STEP Digital conference. Here are our key takeaways from the day.

The ceremony opened with Ray Dargham, CEO of STEP welcoming the attendees to the conference on a fancy lit stage with neon ropes dangling from the ceiling. A truly befitting opening for a tech festival in the region. You can read our Q&A with Dargham and his vision for STEP in the coming years here.

The STEP Digital conference kicked off with a panel session on the shift from broadcast to on-demand streaming in the entertainment business with speakers Mike Fairburn from Sony Music ME and Jim Louderback from Vidcon. “In 2010, you couldn’t move music around the world. Now, we’re able to take a record and move it around real quick, and it’s facilitated primarily because of streaming. It’s extremely complex, there are about 40,000 songs released almost every day now,” according to Fairburn.

“When it comes to video, we’ve seen it go from a binomial distribution to a continuous distribution,” said Louderback on the impact of OTT and streaming on video.

Spotify’s Vice President, EMEA Sales & Multi-Market Global Sales, Marco Bertozzi bought audio to life metaphorically and literally in a panel session on how audio will become one of the key ways users consume and interact with media in 10 years time.

  • 56% agree that audio is an escape from too much visual stimulation.
  • 69% of people in UAE and KSA said they used a music streaming service in the past month.
  • 68% of Spotify MENA users are below the age of 30.
  • 34% of people stream Spotify in their cars.
  • 50% of users in Saudi are listening to Spotify while gaming.

The session concluded with a 3D sound experience to understand the true power of storytelling through sound, justifying the title of the session – Bringing audio to life.

The afternoon saw the conference for a full-house session on the future for advertisers, ad-tech, and publishers in a cookie-free world, with speakers from Dubizzle and ADARA.

  • Publishers should start working on how to improve and validate first-party data.
  • Websites like Dubizzle have a good positioning currently because they have verified first-party data through a login database.

The conference closed with an interesting session by Charles Schreger, former president of HBO on show business in the 21st century.

  • Entertainment businesses are changing and morphing right in front of you.
  • The impact of 5G is not going to happen immediately.
  • China is the most influential port of what’s currently happening in show business.
  • Netflix is the only company in the world that is truly in the entertainment business. They make their revenue solely through entertainment and no other medium.
  • Video games are a bigger industry than the Music business.
  • Fortnite is the new Avengers.

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