Key takeaways from ArabNet 2015

The ArabNet Digital Summit 2015 – the premium conference for digital business in the Middle East – took place last month at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai. In case you missed it, here are our key takeaways:

  1. Global companies have a growing appetite for investing in regional and local ventures. A key example of this is the recent acquisition of for $170 million by Germany’s Rocket Internet Group. It is estimated that $400 million of venture capital is available specifically for start-ups in the region.
  2. Approximately 43% of GCC Internet users make online purchases, with cash on delivery remaining the primary payment method and etailers promoting it. On the other hand, PayPal payments for Aramex Shop & Ship purchases have increased 500% between 2012 and 2014, from 6% to 30% of online payments respectively. Interestingly, 57% of online shoppers in the UAE have made a purchase on their smartphone in the past year.
  3. According to a report by On Device Research, discovery of apps is based on reviews and ratings more than on marketing/advertising. Additionally, the report establishes the need for better Arabic content in regional apps.
  4. Programmatic is quickly gaining momentum in the region with more advertisers and agencies jumping on board. As we evolve in this space, the key driver on programmatic is not just about the technology alone; it’s also about layering in data that enables brands to move away from broad demographic target audiences to targeting individuals. It also closes the loop on brand performance that goes beyond direct response.
  5. For millennials, prime time is now on Facebook and Twitter rather than other media. Facebook videos alone receive upwards of 4 billion views a day, with the Middle East’s consumption per capita double that of the global average. However, in order to be truly engaging, videos need to be original, authentic and current. Daniel Best from Unruly said his formula for vital success is that content has to have emotional triggers and induce a motivation for consumers to share it.
  6. Major players like Facebook, DMS, Google, Unruly and Maker Studio envision a video-centric future. However, in order for this to happen, the quality of content has to be prioritized over distribution tactics. Also, we still need to establish a unified metric framework that measures across all platforms.

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