Complex Made Simple

Festival of Media MENA: Smartphone is the ‘remote control’ of your life

To the vast majority if internet users in the MENA region, mobile is the first screen

Today, the Smartphone has become the ultimate remote control in our lives. When this concept was presented in the 2006 Adam Sandler film Click, it seemed very obviously fictional.


But we were just reminded of how true it is today, at the second edition of the Festival of Media MENA, organised by AMEinfo’s parent company, Mediaquest.


This eureka moment came when we heard this: “For 94 per cent of people in the MENA region, the mobile is the first screen.”


These words were spoken by Ian Carrington, managing director of Performance Solutions and Innovation for EMEA at Google, during his keynote speech at the festival.


The day-long event brings top-level executives from the world’s biggest brands, media and marketing agencies, solution providers, and all iconic minds moving the media and advertising industry forward and pushing it beyond traditional boundaries.


Mobile behaviours


Carrington noted that more and more Google searches, Gmail usage and other online activities are being performed on mobile phones.


With such a vast global and regional adoption of mobile, it is important to understand how information, including brands’ messages, can best reach people online.


According to Carrington, the most effective information has three characteristics: it is fast, simple and personalised for the right target audience.


But it’s not that simple, as target audiences are not easily reached. Internet users are increasingly looking to hide their online activity and not necessarily to hide unorthodox surfing.


“Three out of four people are taking steps to hide their presence online,” said Jason Mander, director of Research at GlobalWebIndex.


He noted that one of the main reasons why people are increasingly turning to VPNs is simply because they want to filter out irrelevant content, including ads, using ad-blocking.


Ad-blocking is a major issue for advertisers and agencies, as resources are being wasted and are not being viewed by audiences.


However, according to Mander, ad-blocking should not be the enemy.


“The common sense is that ad-blocking is largely about privacy, but, actually, it is because they can be annoying or irrelevant. There are too of them and they take up too much screen space,” he said.


“VPN user are more likely to pay for online content than others, so don’t see them as pirate users. They just want access to content that is not available in their market,” he added.


In short, Carrington, Mander and other specialists from the industry agree on one single fact: the user is king, but he or she not inaccessible and is, in fact, quite hungry for relevant content.