Middle East focus: Evolving editorial for a growing market
Within this growth one of the region’s largest publishers, Gulf News, is seeking to expand its portfolio from traditional news content into more niche entertainment areas, integrating mobile and social. We caught up with James Hewes, publishing director for GN Publishing – the specialist media division of GN Media in Dubai, to find out more about their marketplace and the routes into it.
We’re now trying to develop more audiences around certain niche content areas (0:07)
I mean obviously we have the core audience for the business which is news – that’s a very large and well established audience in the Middle East. We’re now trying to develop more audiences around certain niche content areas like automotive, home and garden, watches, women’s lifestyle, and men’s lifestyle.
Social media has become the most important tool for the PR industry in the Middle East (0:23)
We’ve focused a lot in the past on desktop web, but now having to have something that’s adapted for mobile is going to be really important for us. I guess the other major technology for us is social, or the other major phenomenon really is social. Social media has become for the PR industry in the Middle East probably the most important tool for them now, more important than print, more important than television. So having a robust and vigorous social media presence for all of our brands is really important. Something that we can show all of our brands that want to partner with us we’ve got a good dialogue with our audiences.
You’ve got lots and lots of different audiences in the Middle East, and the mistake is to think that they’re all the same (0:52)
In terms of differences, the first thing is you’ve got to resolve the language and the audience issue in the Middle East. Because you’ve got lots and lots of different audiences and the mistake is to think that they’re all the same. So you’ve got a very large local audience of Arabs, you’ve got a lot of Indian expats, you’ve got a lot of Western European expats, and how you market to each of those audiences is different because they have different usage habits and different consumption habits of media.
Mobile, native advertising and video are the three things that we’re really thinking about right now (2:16)
How can we make sure that we’ve got the right product for people to access our content on mobile devices? That’s the first thing. The second is making sure that we’ve got the right video content so that we’re making something that’s sticky – so people want to come back and check our video content regularly. And I guess the third one is native advertising: how do we start to move from the old fashioned display model, into something that’s a little but more a content marketing model, which the brands in the Middle East are starting to ask for now…you add those three things together, there’s still an enormous potential for growth in our market.
FIPP Middle East and Africa, February 2016
FIPP is organising a conference in this region in February 2016. Find out more here.
This interview took place at the Digital Innovators’ Summit in March 2015.
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