The reason this struck home for me was that next February, FIPP is holding a Middle East & Africa conference in Dubai. It seems our timing couldn’t be better.
Overall business is booming – but not everywhere. It’s a complex region with many local issues at play, but an understanding what’s happening can create some interesting business opportunities. In an interview with James Hewes the publishing director of Gulf News, he spells out how the region is seeing increasing use of social media, the emergence of native advertising, the growing importance of mobile and video content, and how magazine media companies are developing data analytics to improve their business and deepen relationships with consumer and advertiser.
He freely admits that the region is slow on the take-up of these issues compared to the rest of the world – but the advantage is that they can eliminate many of the mistakes and dead-ends that have happened elsewhere. He also talks about the importance of language – a growing mass market for Arabic speakers and a very profitable niche for English language media. These trends can be seen to be behind the launches in the past year of titles as diverse as Huffpost Arabi, an arab language edition of the Huffington Post or Cyclist – a special interest magazine licensed by Dennis Publishing to the Dubai-based Motivate Publishing.
Media in the African continent is also of increasing interest to international players. Duncan Edwards, CEO of Hearst Magazines International, who will be speaking in Dubai, has said that sub-Saharan Africa is of great interest to his advertising clients, but as he also notes “the digital advertising markets are pretty immature. The presence of people like us is going to change that.” In the past year, Hearst have launched a digital edition of Cosmopolitan in Nigeria and has Ghana, Kenya and Botswana in its sights, and in the same vein, digital media brand Quartz teamed up with GE to launch Quartz Africa in June. Those perennial competitors, Unilever and Proctor & Gamble have both indicated that they see Africa as the next frontier of growth. Exciting times and our conference will reflect this with speakers such as Julian Artopé, Ringier’s director in charge of developing the African market, explaining how Ringier have developed successful digital businesses in 13 African countries in less than five years.
All in all, much to come, see, and hear about – I’d be delighted to see you there.
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