January 31, 2005

ARTICLES: Reaching teens and young adults in the Middle East

Reaching teens and young adults in the Middle East

Ranging from preteens to mid 20s and currently accounting for nearly half the Arab World Population (often called Generation-Y). This segment is easily the most diverse and socially tolerant generation yet.

They're also widely considered as one of the most educated and media savvy. Having grown up in a technology rich environment, one in which many have been immersed their entire lives, it is not surprising that studies are showing that they spend more time on mobile phones and surfing the Internet each week than watching TV and reading magazines.

A media consumption disparity only widening as time progresses.

Naturally, there is a wealth of brands in the region trying to appeal to this evasive audience and these marketers are doing everything they can to get their share of the spends they control. But as many marketers are quickly finding, it isn't as easy as it appears.

Consumer studies show generation-Y consumers are increasingly skeptical of "packaged" ad messages showing infinitely more ad savvy then their predecessors. Instead, it appears they take their cues from celebrities and their peers.

To further exasperate matters, media consumption is further fragmenting. More options require more analysis on the part of brand marketers and media planners in this region. Gone are the days when media planners could penetrate an audience through the 30-second TV spot.

But then again this should come as no surprise to us as TV in this region has been highly fragmented for quite some time right?

Instead, Marketers need to take their cues from these finicky and skeptical consumers themselves, and hence have little choice but to reevaluate their advertising and marketing techniques. Media is moving faster now then it ever has before and consumer insights that applied 4 years ago just don't apply today.

Increasingly brands see the answer in putting their budgets into new areas such event marketing with hopes for success. Others, quite logically, are going digital.

But the issue now becomes one of knowing where to advertise once they get there. This of course is a never-ending challenge. What types of sites do these consumers frequent, and are they ones with which you should associate your brand? These sorts of questions may plague marketers, but they're not without answers.

Here are a few tips:

Target interests through Search
Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo! experience millions of Internet searches every single day across the Middle East. Teens are online searching for their favorite celebrities, video games, music and movies; subjects of near obsessive interest with this segment.

This of course opens up a wealth of opportunities for brands wanting to piggy back on the fanaticism. Search can offer your brand with creative and cost effective ad products enabling ad exposure when users search for keywords you pre-specify or even fulfill pre-determined behaviors online.

When you add the fact that search is a performance based media buy, then you really have something effective. No wonder it's the fastest growing media buy in the world.

Entertainment and Music Sites
There are a number of virtual communities in the region based around specific entertainment based content. One strong proponent, Maktoob.com is perhaps the world's biggest community of Arabs aged between 16-26.

Maktoob offers numerous sub-channels centered around interests targeting this demographic. Co-branded sections such as 'Snickers football', 'Twix Melodies' and 'Shuftak' dedicate virtual space to these high interest subjects.

With its focus on interactivity, Maktoob advertisers are offered plenty of opportunities to connect with the audience via quizzes, games, and interactive features that showcase their products.

As far as this youth segment is concerned, music online is king. Sites such as 6arab.com and Mazika.com feature the leading Arab singers and mp3 downloads and are attracting the Arab youth audiences in droves. If you are looking for a more diverse group, then sites like mumtazz.com and timeoutdubai.com are certainly worth investigating.

For marketers opting for portal placements, a viral marketing feature should be top of mind. Jupiter Research recently found in its report "younger consumers are more apt to share online info -- including marketing info -- with others online." Researchers have named "buzz" and word-of-mouth marketing important to this segment.

Think Chat
If there is one thing that brings generation-Y consumers online in this region, then it is the ability to connect with others through the net. This becomes even more significant when regional sensibilities and conservatism is thrown into the equation.

Youth segments in this region are spending countless hours in chat rooms and on forums, discussing anything from relationships to religion. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this may provide a brand with a captive environment to build the brand.

Finally there's this little channel we the industry often refer to as 'Out-of-Browser' advertising or more commonly known as Instant chat. Instant chat's introduction caused a near revolution across both teenagers and adults alike.

Currently over 1.5 million consumers within the Middle East log-in to MSN Messenger every day and this provides a couple choice advertising options complete with high interactivity averages. Compare the size of this audience with any regional newspaper circulation and it becomes clear that online has progressed beyond the niche reach that marketers often attribute to it.
SOURCE: http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/52937.html
Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
Bergstr. 8 / 10th floor
D-45770 Marl - Germany
Tel.: +49 2365 502480
Mobile: +49 176 23107083
Fax: +49 12126 23107083
Email: cschuepp@unicef.org
URL: www.unicef.org/magic
Mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youthful-media
The YPMN is supported by UNICEF and hosted by the ECMC.
The opinions and views expressed in this message and/or articles & websites linked to from this message do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

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