Ramadan is a peak period for advertisers as audiences purchase more as well as consume more content on different channels.
The last couple of years have seen a gradual shift from TV spends to digital not only during Ramadan, but also throughout the year. However, Ramadan is one month during which both TV consumption and time spent online – whether it’s on social or e-commerce – increases. It also means media becomes more expensive especially on TV.
How do advertisers then decide how much to spend on which channel?
We spoke to the industry’s leading agencies and brands to find out.
As a general rule of thumb, it depends on the strategy, campaign objective and category being advertised. “For instance, the preference for the foods category largely remains to communicate online via the sharing of recipes and participation in cooking programmes. The preference for communicating purpose-driven communication, on the other hand, sits with TV given that more time is needed to communicate its proposition,” explains Asad Rahman, media director at Unilever MENA.
But, challenges with measurement, lack of targeting, and the relatively higher pricing of TV, combined with shrinking budgets is seeing a shift to digital.
Landmark Group’s Centrepoint shifted a 100 percent of its TV budget to digital during Ramadan “due to superior targeting, two-way conversation opportunity and measurable response,” according to Shyam Sunder, senior head of marketing at Centrepoint.
The best advertising is done through storytelling and according to Satish Mayya, CEO of BPG Maxus the most effective storytelling formats are videos – on social media sites – and native ads in relevant contextual websites.
Digital video consumption is up by 50 percent and time spent on social media massively increases during Ramadan. This is in line with users consuming more ‘snackable’ content explaining Unilever’s presence on local publishers such as Yalla Feed, OLN, Nawaem, and platforms such as YouTube and Daily Motion.
All of Initiative UAE’s clients are heavy on digital during Ramadan, says the agency’s digital director Saadeddine Nahas. This shift is driven by the “high investment levels required for adequate TV presence, audiences’ fragmented media consumption, as well as the increase in opportunities and relevant content online,” he adds.
Other than a few brands that have gone online, many still look to TV.
“TV stays our first media with MBC Drama; Ramadan is well known for the success of TV series and drama,” says Nassima El-Mounfalouti, account director for BMW, Zenith.
In this region, people value time with family and friends, which is evident in the 54 percent decrease in outdoor dining during the month in Saudi, according to this report by Sapience. A large part of spending time at home with family and friends involves watching TV. “Families gathering around the TV post-iftar ensures a focus around advertising and communicating around the top dramas,” says Rahman.
In Saudi, especially, “TV still leads the way this Ramadan in terms of spending,” says UM KSA’s business director Rayan Bou Karroum. He admits that it is not as strong as previous years but “[TV] will still have a solid impact due to the content projected on the leading stations including SBC.”
Earlier on, Centrepoint’s Sunder mentioned that one of the reasons for going digital is better targeting. But, what about Pan-Arab advertisers? This is where TV is the preferred option, says Mayya. Also, Pan-Arab TV does see an extended peak time during Ramadan, which is why “Spends are skewed towards leading general entertainment channels, mainly MBC 1, offering local and regionally produced content from popular series, to game shows and health-oriented programs,” says Elie Bachaalani, executive director of investments, UAE and Lower Gulf, Omnicom Media Group.
For those with a balanced media mix, online is only extending TV’s reach
Many users are watching TV dramas but they are watching it online. “These pieces of TV content are also increasingly being viewed time-shifted i.e. not just when on broadcast at a certain time, but consumers may want to watch them on platforms like Shahid and YouTube at a time that’s convenient to them, which is especially true for Ramadan when primetime is pretty much all night,” says Rahman.
In such cases, when digital or social is being used it is being as a complement to TV, rather than a replacement, to deliver incremental reach. As Bachaalani, says, “In recent years, we have seen a decrease in TV spends in favor of VOD and web series, as it provides an extended reach for TV.” Similarly Initiative is also active on online video complementing TV as one video strategy, adds Nahas.
Undoubtedly there is a shift happening. But, even though, clients are testing new media and results including social, mobile, e-commerce, and so on, as a Publicis Media spokesperson says, “TV remains to be the largest percentage of actual spend,” and that means TV is still King.
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