The holy month of Ramadan is an introspective and spiritual time of the year, when people fast, pray, change their daily routines, catch up with their favorite TV drama series and spend more time with their near and dear ones.
It’s also that time of year when television and digital screens are bombarded with commercials. To help marketers outshine their competitors, and stand out amid Ramadan ad clutter, Sapience, in partnership with Mediaquest, conducted an analytical study titled “Marketing in Ramadan”.
The first part of the report, released last week, looked at trends in the FMCG sector.
This week’s report looks at how media consumption and purchase behaviors change throughout the month of Ramadan and how advertisers can make the most of these changes to reach their audience.
To download this part or the full whitepaper, please click here, and a representative will be in touch with you.
Shorter working/school days and an interrupted night schedule leaves those fasting with ample time to spend on media channels – be it TV or online.
Although this year, many advertisers have reported a shift of budgets to online, TV consumption during the month is huge with a 6 percent increase in daily TV watching during Ramadan.
Consumers in Saudi Arabia, residing in Dammam, between 36-39 years old with an income of 20,000 to 30,000 Saudi riyal per month, choose their TV programs based on genre, if it’s suitable for family viewing and if it is aired at a suitable time.
In contrast, younger females do have a different thinking when it comes to selecting Ramadan shows. Arab expats who reside in Riyadh, and are between 15 to 24 years of age, tend to make their choice based on whether the show has been continued from last Ramadan.
Where are people watching?
Although TV viewership increases during Ramadan compared to other months, YOY Ramadan viewership of TV has remained consistent. What has increased is YouTube viewership.
Still, TV continues to remain big for advertisers, even if more cluttered, with ad breaks increasing up to 50% and the cost of TV ads increasing by 2.5 times during Ramadan, according to Ipsos 2017 research.
When are people watching, searching and shopping?
Data from various sources shows that post-midnight is when users are most active. Facebook, for instance, sees the most activity at 3am in the MENA region while other sources report that online searches surge by 30 percent between 9pm and 12am and by 17 percent between 12am and 4am.
What does this mean for advertisers? And are they investing where their consumers are spending their time?
There is an overall shift happening from TV to digital but it’s a mixed bag. Some advertisers are going 100% digital while others are somewhere between adopting a TV-heavy to more balanced approach.
All those in favor of digital…
Those favoring digital are doing so because it’s cheaper, allows for better targeting and is more measurable. For instance, Landmark Group’s Centrepoint shifted a 100 percent of its TV budget to digital during Ramadan. “The investment shift was done due to superior targeting, two-way conversation opportunity and measurable response,” explains Shyam Sunder, senior head of marketing at Centrepoint.
Furthermore, in terms of effective storytelling formats, Satish Mayya, CEO of BPG Maxus feels that video across channels like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, and native ads in relevant contextual websites, are the best formats. He adds. In Saudi, however, “TV still leads the way this Ramadan in terms of spending,” says UM KSA’s business director Rayan Bou Karroum. He admits that it is not as strong as previous years but “ will still have a solid impact due to the content projected on the leading stations including SBC,” he adds.
On the other hand, there’s Nassima El-Mounfalouti, account director for BMW, Zenith, who says, “TV stays our first media with MBC Drama; Ramadan is well known for the success of TV series and drama.”
At a group level, Publicis Media adds that the industry has moved toward more digital and mobile activations across Ramadan, but “TV remains to be the largest percentage of actual spend.”
For brands that want to reach out to masses in the wider Gulf region, TV – rather than digital – is the preferred option, adds Mayya.
Elie Bachaalani, Executive Director of Investments, UAE and Lower Gulf, says that the shift in media consumption is marked by Pan-Arab TV, which sees an extended peak time. He says, “Spends are skewed towards leading general entertainment channels, mainly MBC 1, offering local and regionally produced content from popular series, to game shows and health-oriented programs.”
Interestingly, the audience’s mobile-friendly behavior – especially after iftar – results to an increase in local out of home campaigns and in-mall advertising, he adds.
Somewhere in the middle…
And yet, Publicis Media admits that there are significant changes taking place. For example, the number of brands that used to hold a percentage of annual spends for Ramadan has decreased or these budget holds have been removed completely, the spokesperson explains. These changes can be attributed to the economy, but also to the changes in the consumer journey changes, which include e-commerce and mobile affinity for video and content. “Overall, we are seeing a stronger resolve for clients to transparently test new media and results in the Ramadan season including social, mobile, commerce and TV effectiveness,” adds the spokesperson.
Initiative UAE’s digital director Saadeddine Nahas explains that the shift to online is driven by the “high investment levels required for adequate TV presence, audiences’ fragmented media consumption, as well as the increase in opportunities and relevant content online.” When it comes to the agency’s clients, “We are heavy on digital during Ramadan, which is due to a combination of performance campaigns driving Ramadan-specific offers, as well as pre-Eid activities for holiday shoppers,” he adds.
Bachaalani, too, adds, “In recent years, we have seen a decrease in TV spends in favor of VOD and web series, as it provides an extended reach for TV.”
User behavior isn’t the only reason investments are moving away from TV. Mayya, who expects TV investment to get affected this year, says it could be due to factors such as a decline in Turkish shows; Netflix’s launch of a local series One Thousand and One Nights; and the World Cup, which has five regional countries participating resulting in regional brands having to spread their investments across different events.
The shift to digital is not always an all-out strategy. In some case, it is complementary to TV. For instance, “We are active on online video complementing TV as one video strategy,” says Nahas.
There’s another important factor affecting the dynamics of Ramadan investment in Saudi. “Ramadan 2018 will be especially unique due to platform consumption transformation, the commencement of World Cup and the Saudi national team playing in three consecutive matches starting 14th of June,” points out UM KSA’s Karroum.
This is part of the report originally published on Communicate (www.communicateonline.me), AMEinfo’s sister company