Elie Zenieh of LeadGen KSA: 'Our team is homegrown in Saudi Arabia'
Posted on 2023 Dec,20

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For Elie Zenieh, Managing Director of LeadGen KSA, the Saudi advertising market is like no other. And in order to succeed in this dynamic and promising business environment, agencies must be highly equipped. Zenieh explains how.


How would you describe the current general business mood in Saudi Arabia?

The prevailing business climate in Saudi Arabia is characterized by optimism, growth, and a spirit of economic transformation. The impact of the Saudi Vision 2030 is profound across multiple economic facets. Also, the country's efforts to ease regulations and improve the overall business climate have encouraged entrepreneurs and investors to invest in the Saudi market; therefore we have witnessed a surge in startup activities over recent years.

The Kingdom is actively fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, making it an increasingly attractive destination for both local and international startups. In the past few years, when many other countries were experiencing a slowdown in several sectors, Saudi-based startups raised hundreds of million in funding and investments, marking a significant year-over-year growth. Saudi Arabia is now positioned among the top countries in the MENA region regarding deal count and total funding.

The economic expansion has also impacted the advertising sector, where there has been a great shift in the businesses’ mindset. Brands are prioritizing personalized communication, focusing on creating meaningful connections with the consumers, in a time where consumers' attention spans are shrinking more and more. This has mandated the advertising industry to adopt and adapt to new industry norms to prevent obsolescence.


What can you tell us about LeadGen KSA?

LeadGen is not your conventional media agency. We are a modern client-centric agency that has been in the market for the past three years, a journey full of milestones that have led to partnering with leading brands in the Saudi market. We excel at bridging the divide between where our clients currently stand and where they aspire to be by translating ideas into digital masterpieces. At LeadGen, we possess a distinctive ability to actualize the very essence of marketing – a fusion of creativity with cutting-edge technology and industry best practices – to deliver on our commitment to our clients, which is to empower them with all the tools to elevate their online presence through digital excellence and deliver tangible results.

LeadGen's success story is powered by an extraordinary team of digital marketing experts, fortified by progressive technology, and driven by a relentless pursuit of data-driven breakthroughs.


How do you see the flood of rival digital companies affecting your business?

In today’s dynamic business landscape, Saudi Arabia offers a plethora of opportunities encouraging numerous companies to establish their headquarters across the kingdom to fortify their presence in the market. With that surge, competition sharpens. As the market becomes increasingly competitive, companies must navigate the hurdle of standing in a strong cultured market.

Our competitive advantage is that our team is homegrown in Saudi Arabia and has extensive experience in the industry, which sets our innovative yet youthful agency ahead of the curve in the competitive landscape.

Moreover, we maintain our competitive edge by harnessing the power of innovative data driven digital solutions informed by analytics and measurements — a power that remains a distinct advantage in the Saudi market today.


 What do you think agencies need the most to succeed in a market like Saudi Arabia? 

Agencies that combine cultural sensitivity, regulatory expertise, keen market sense, and adaptability of global standards are most likely to succeed in Saudi Arabia's dynamic and promising business environment. Here is why:

- Local talents are crucial, as they possess a deep understanding of the cultural nuances and societal norms, which are essential in the success of a well-crafted approach. More importantly having a local talent equipped with the right digital media knowledge will drive your brand to new heights.

- Market dynamics: adaptability and a thorough understanding of local market dynamics are essential. The Saudi market is rapidly evolving, demanding agencies to pivot and adjust their strategy to keep up with the latest global standards while catering to local nuances.

- Localization, which means molding international and global standards to suit the local market. Localization is a critical success factor in the Saudi market. When marketing content is localized, every component of the communication process is modified to resonate with the local target, from a creative and media perspective.

- Access to global platforms: enables companies to tap into the vast global market and harness the power of digital innovation. In an era of increasing digitalization, access to global platforms provides businesses with the tools to expand their reach and compete on a global scale. Furthermore, these platforms offer opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing, fostering a culture of innovation and enabling businesses to stay agile and responsive to market trends. By leveraging global platforms, companies in Saudi Arabia can navigate the evolving digital landscape, adapt to changing consumer behaviors, and ultimately achieve greater success.


What in your opinion Saudi advertising is still lacking? 

The Saudi advertising sector is maturing and increasingly gearing towards a data driven approach, but the journey ahead still presents challenges and opportunities of improvement.

One essential element is encouraging clients to test and explore new territories and refrain from relying on outdated advertising tools/formats/platforms. This shift underscores the importance of introducing and educating clients about best practices in leveraging new methods and strategies.

Furthermore, while the media industry is advancing towards a data-centric mindset, there remains a noticeable deficiency in education, products, and solutions tailored to our market. This includes solutions that support Arabic language content and encompass essential data elements, as well as the need for wider adoption of such tools from global.

Overall, although the Saudi advertising sector has made significant strides, there is still ample room for growth in terms of creativity, technology, transparency, sustainability, and embracing digital trends to meet the evolving needs of consumers and businesses. At LeadGen, one of our primary focus is continuous learning, testing, and our agility in responding to a fast evolving industry. We are dedicated to an ongoing learning program customized to our clients’ requirements.


Could you name one thing you’d like to see changed in the Saudi ad industry?

A more data-driven and technologically sophisticated landscape.

The modern media industry is increasingly harnessing the power of comprehensive and precise measurements. This includes not just the quantity of data but also the depth and quality of insights gained. These measurements enable data-driven decision-making, personalized content, and more targeted advertising.

More importantly the advanced solutions encompass technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and content recommendation algorithms. This will enhance the communications’ performance, minimizing wastage and maximizing efficiencies.


Saudi client is believed to be a media’s dream because of big budgets. Would you agree with that? 

The Saudi market is unique and has a lot of potential, yet today the competition is at its highest rates, especially since businesses are fiercely working on maximizing their profit and enhancing their online presence. At LeadGen, our clients are our partners, which means that their success story is our success story, and it reflects our successful methods, strategies, and solutions.


Do you do business in the KSA like in any other regional market or do the challenges vary?

It is true that the Saudi market can be fertile soil for all types of businesses, but we should not forget that it is like any other market and can be affected by a global turmoil. Nevertheless, the Saudi market is led by a young audience with world-leading digital consumption numbers across many platforms, where they are eager to constantly share their creativity and opinions. This mandates its own set of challenges for brands, where they will either secure a long term audience or risk losing it. In other words, the Saudi market is unique, and no agency should operate in it as it operates in other regional markets, which takes us back to a very important point, which is localization, the key to business success in KSA.


What is your biggest challenge for 2024?

Attracting local talents is our biggest challenge. LeadGen already works with more than 30 local talents, and our goal is to grow this number by 2024.


Where do you see LeadGen within the Saudi market in the next decade?

As for LeadGen's future in the Saudi market, we see it as a pioneer in the country's advertising industry, a leading performance agency that distinguishes itself in the fields of data analysis, optimization, and measurement due to its exceptional human resources, creative thinking, and cutting-edge technology.

At LeadGen, we want to represent the positive change we see in the advertising sector.