Meeting the Demand for Video Content in MENA

Lynn Bizri, May 17 2017

Approximately 75% of Internet users in the UAE watch online videos at least once a week on their smartphones, according to The Consumer Barometer, an online global consumer insights tool developed by Google. In Saudi Arabia, the figure is slightly higher at 77%. Online video consumption is skyrocketing in the Middle East, with consumers not only watching more video than ever before, but also choosing video content over all other content types across different devices and platforms. In order to continue generating traffic and capturing consumer attention, brands are going to have to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for video content.

Consumers Want Video
In April 2016, the popularity of online video consumption prompted YouTube to add seven countries from the MENA region to its Trends Dashboard, an online tool that allows users to create three comparison lists of widely watched videos based on location, age and gender. Kharabeesh Cartoons, a Jordan-based company, was even featured on the dashboard thanks to its popular videos.

According to Animoto’s annual ‘Online and Social Video Marketing Study’, video marketing is growing fast, now playing a critical role in the acquisition of new consumers and helping brands engage with existing ones. The study showed that four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and while only 14% of the 1,051 consumers surveyed could remember the last display ad they saw, 80% could recall the video ads they watched online the week before.

Research by media software company LevelsBeyond showed that when visiting brand websites, consumers are increasingly looking for video content, with 59% saying they’re more likely to watch videos when visiting a website with such content. Furthermore, 40% state that they would rather watch a video than read written information from a brand. Consumers are also more likely to trust the information a brand presents if it is packaged in the format of a high-quality, well-produced video.

Play to Your Audience
To achieve the intended results, marketers must starts by knowing their audiences thoroughly to be able to target and personalize their video content to them. By identifying the different types of consumers who seek different content at different stages of purchase, brands can deliver the exact type of content needed to move a user to a new perception, action or transaction.  Brands must also think about the sweet spot between what their audience is interested in and what the brand stands for. Engagement shouldn’t be achieved at the expense of brand positioning. By creating relevant, personalized content gradually, brands can build a significant and useful video content library over time.

To meet the demand for video, brands must also choose the best platform(s) to deliver their content, based on their goals, targeted audiences and preferred video style(s). With an 88% year-on-year increase in MENA’s watch time, YouTube may well be the platform of choice for consumers here, but it may not be the right fit for every brand. The choice of platform must be based on the relevance to the specific audience and the suitability for the video style of the brand. According to data collected by Damian Radcliffe, a professor in journalism at the University of Oregon, the MENA region is the fastest growing consumer of videos on Facebook, where the consumption per head of Facebook-embedded videos is double the global average. Moreover, the number of Facebook videos is almost equal to the number of YouTube links shared on the platform and receive twice as much engagement.

Do It Right
In order for brands to meet the demand for video content and use the medium effectively, they need to know the right type of content to create and what their consumers want to see. To begin with, brands need to consider why they are using video and what they want their content to achieve, be it driving sales, increasing brand awareness or social media channel growth. Then, brands must decide on what type or genre of video content they plan to produce – educational, entertaining, practical or other – as well as who their targeted audiences are. From there, they need to determine who creates the content and where it will live (whether on a website, YouTube channel, Social Media or elsewhere). Finally, brands need a reliable metrics-based measurement plan in order to gather and analyze their data.

Video content must provide value in order to attract an audience and generate results, either by informing, entertaining or offering convenience. Brands that teach their audiences something they don’t already know gain the opportunity to cement themselves as industry leaders and ensure repeat visits by their consumers who need to do research or make a purchase. Entertaining content makes brands more relatable, keeps visitors on their sites for longer, grows their reach and exposes themselves to new audiences. As for convenience, creating something that can be easily referenced also encourages natural shares and engagement. People only share videos if they are worth sharing – whether informative, useful, funny, interesting or moving.

Analytics to Make Informed Decisions
Around 86% of marketers use some form of measurement of video marketing effectiveness, according to a video marketing research report by Vidyard and Ascend2. Yet in order to get the most out of their marketing videos, marketers need to go beyond simply collecting data. If collected and analyzed appropriately, video data can provide an in-depth look into audience behavior and how much content a specific audience is consuming. Capturing and analyzing video engagement data also allows marketers to identify which of their videos are underperforming and pinpoint ways to make them better. Measurement goes far beyond just views and, with the right video technologies, marketers can track relevant insights that range from who are watching their videos and how long they are staying engaged to what portions are being re-watched and when exactly the conversions are taking place.

Obstacles? What Obstacles?
Marketers are eager to use video because of the pervasiveness and proven effectiveness of the medium, yet many still feel anxious about it because they believe it requires a great deal of effort, time, resources and budget. While the dominant players in content marketing are making large investments in video production every year, smaller firms are understandably more measured. You don’t need to be a professional video producer with years of experience to create great content; you simply need to be a strategic brand storyteller and call upon professionals for help when needed. Today, thanks to easily accessible high-quality recording devices in the market, videos also no longer require a massive budget. Marketers also have access to a wide range of cloud-based alternatives and apps that can be used to create animated videos at a fraction of traditional production costs.

While two-thirds of marketers expect video to play a strategic role over the coming years, according to Nielsen, those struggling with video marketing will need to act fast to capitalize on the trend. Brands will need to expand their use of video throughout the entire customer journey, from education and conversion to customer service and loyalty, and deliver captivating content that attracts their targeted audiences.  The more tech-savvy consumers become, the more demand for video will grow.

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