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EXCLUSIVE: Anghami’s Rami Zeidan on podcasts and audio


EXCLUSIVE: Anghami’s Rami Zeidan on podcasts and audio

  • Audio ads generated $1.6 billion in the US in 2017 – a 39 percent jump from the year before – according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

  • US podcast ad revenue rose a whopping 87 percent in 2017 (to $314 million from $169 million in 2016), according to a recent study by IAB and PwC

  • There will be $659 million in ad revenue by 2020 

Those numbers combined with the launch of Podcasts by regional music streaming app Anghami signal a bright future for publishers, listeners and advertisers in the region. We sat down with Rami Zeidan, vice-president – partnerships at Anghami to learn more. 

Firstly, why podcasts? What’s the rationale behind Anghami offering podcasts? 

Anghami has built a strong position in the region by building audio streaming habits through music, from a piracy market to 70 million users who have registered and streamed music on Anghami from our Arabic and international library. Today, we have an estimated 1 billion streams per month and growing. Podcasts, worldwide, are in an explosive growth state. Their share of ear has doubled in the past four years and with platforms competing for users’ attention, this became an opportunity [for us] to present content diversity using audio. Learning from our music service, we plan to educate the market in MENA about podcasts and start building an audience. This also falls in line with our strategic direction to move beyond music and into entertainment at scale.

What are the different kinds of podcasts you’d be offering? How many of these are local/regional? 

Our focus is podcasts from MENA. We believe in our region; we are from the region, for the region, and like music, there will be users who enjoy global content and we will serve them, but our focus will be fueled by a culture filter for us to curate and support the creation of a wide variety of content made for the region. Today, we have over 300 shows out of which 60 percent are from the region, including amazing podcast groups who have been producing content for years, such as Mstdfr, Kerning Culture, Dukkan, Amaeya FM, and since we launched, Finyal Media has kicked off, as well as Basel Meets, and Rana Nawas’s When Women Want.

Regional publishers have also started to embrace audio and soon listing on Anghami. ITP has been doing this for a while with Time Out, Harper’s Bazaar, Arabian Business, Jamalouki, and EuroSports.

There’s also Communicate of course, in addition to Sports360 and Fatafeat who, among others, are gearing up to enter the audio scene. We are being selective with global podcast content by focusing on what the audience demands versus curating a large volume for the sake of having content. We have some of the top shows from around the world from Billboard, Joe Rogan, Dave Ramsey, James Smith, Snoop Dogg, and more. With around 80 shows from the global market and growing, MENA is very well known for it’s amazing diversity, and so, we will be focused on the consumer and what they desire and demand, with the goal of the continuation of nurturing and growing audio in the region.

How is Anghami working with creators to help grow the podcast scene? 

We’re supporting podcasters in three ways: content discoverability, production and marketing.

Content discoverability. We have redesigned our UI to better reflect the podcast content and educate our users on the availability of such content. We also created a dashboard to allow content creators to sign up and upload their content easily via, where podcasters can manage their pages, their shows, see their analytics and understand their listeners easily. We have so many new features coming soon as well.

Production. We have invested in building a recording studio at our offices in Dubai and Beirut and hopefully Egypt soon, giving podcasters the tools for creation.

Marketing. We started by joining and supporting the Middle East Podcasting community on Podcast Day last year through a forum that brought together existing and potential podcasters and listeners. In the next few months, we have planned more moves in marketing to initiate the education phase in the region and awareness about the storytellers and their amazing topics.

Can you recap Anghami’s talk at the Dubai Lynx 2019?

At the Lynx, Elie Abou Saleh, our vice-president for GCC talked about the music landscape globally ad Regionally while also shedding light on the power of audio for brands and how this medium allows brands to reach users across different moments of the day, especially when the phone screen is off. He also shared learnings around creative audio advertising and its impact on brand metrics – in particular brand favorability and consideration. It is time that brands started to think about their audio strategy, as audio is not a radio ad; it is a sonic identity, a story, and engaging presence with the Gen Z and Millenial generation, the earbud generation. He also introduced our audio vision and our entry into the podcasting space as something to watch out for in the future.

What should advertisers know about podcasts?

Brands who wish to tap venture into this podcast today should be aware that this medium is on the rise and scaling, but hasn’t delivered on mass reach so far. That said, this is not a reach product but rather a storytelling experience around the need the brand’s product or service might deliver. Podcasts are simply audio stories covering topics of interests. To scale this medium, we can help brands natively push this content to potential audiences through native placements and audio ads. The podcasting landscape is being rewritten globally, and at Anghami we are happy to be shaping this trend and are confident that we will be able to create more opportunities to engage our listeners with the brands that they love.


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