Opportunities ahead by Richard Addington
Posted on 2022 Jan,05  | By Richard Addington

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Richard Addington, Director of Monetization and Commercial at MBC Media Solutions, highlights key trends that are expected to carry over in 2022

Who would have thought that we’d already be here, looking forward for next year, anticipating future industry trends and feeling hopeful for what’s yet to come?

The past two years have been without a doubt challenging for us all, but along with these challenges, came opportunities that were not there before.

As the year comes to an end, let’s look back and highlight key trends that are expected to carry over to the coming new year.


Global Growth vs Local Growth

A notable trend that we’ve observed this year is an increase in media spending by local Saudi brands that have even surpassed their international counterparts in media investments during Ramadan.  

A number of reasons can be attributed to this shift. To begin with, there are the changes in Saudi Arabia’s import tariffs, which include, but are not limited to: an increase in custom rates levied on goods imported outside the Kingdom; the inclusion of goods manufactured in free zones in the GCC; and the addition of new conditions for preferential treatment on customs tariff for GCC countries, to name a few.

This gave local brands a window of opportunity with budgets at their disposal to spend on media as opposed to international brands that found themselves having to cut costs (marketing budgets are usually the first on the chopping board) to compensate the increase in taxes, which can reach up to 25% depending on the goods’ category.

The growth of local brands and SME’s in Saudi Arabia is also most certainly credited to the extraordinary developments and transformation put forth by the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 and reforms, which aim to bring stability and growth to the Saudi economy. Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to support SMEs. It has recently approved the establishment of a bank for small and medium enterprises to aid SMEs to access appropriate financing and achieve stability and growth.

I believe we will continue to witness an increase in spending by Saudi SMEs and therefore building relationships with them early on is paramount.



As we may all already know, the automotive, travel and tourism industries took a hit due to COVID-19—taking a toll on their advertising budgets. While we are still in a pandemic and dealing with the recent developments on the new variant ‘Omicron’, we expect to see a gradual increase in their communication and investments. Brands and consumers have adjusted to the new consumer dynamics and are adapting their campaigns and messaging accordingly.

But what we didn’t expect in full force are the newcomers who traditionally and solely relied on performance-driven advertising to begin incorporating TV into their strategies.

We’ve seen this with e-commerce clients who have added TV to their communication strategies to enhance brand awareness, as an additional layer to their performance-driven investments.

In fact, a leading e-commerce platform enjoyed the Ramadan program solutions we offered across our portfolio of channels for their first TV campaign in the region achieving an unprecedented double digited growth.

Increased TV spending amongst e-commerce clients is a trend we are expecting to pursue in the coming year. We have seen this trend firsthand with partners who significantly increased their investment and have witnessed a substantial growth on their business in return.


Brand Integration

MMS’s brand integration solutions have always been in high demand amongst brands and clients, and we are expecting this to increase even further in the coming years, as brands continue focusing more on immersive experiences and experiential marketing.

We are seeing more and more clients approach us with a desire to engage customers so that they don’t only buy products or services, but to also experience the brand. 

There are several examples we can highlight throughout the year. For World Water Day, we developed a full cross-platform solution with Finish including integration across multiple shows and channels, celebrity pledges, and radio, Shahid and social media promotion. This culminated in a world record for most pledges for water conservation, which was projected on the Burj Khalifa.

For Mrsool, we created a fully dedicated episode in Ramadan where the brand was fully embedded and integrated within the storyline. We even had the lead actor Nasser El Qasabi play the role of a Mrsool employee!

It is the high-quality premium content that is at the center of these solutions; it enables us to deploy creative solutions that deliver on brand KPIs.


VOD original productions are expected to increase in the coming years, as they present brands with unique integration opportunities that are not available in internationally acquired shows.


VOD & Digital platforms

VOD and digital platforms have undeniably affected the entire industry and have presented areas of opportunities for brands to connect with consumers who are increasingly expecting relevant and attractive TV and video content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and in the format that best suits their immediate needs.

Realizing this, streaming and Video on Demand platforms, including Shahid, have been investing in producing high quality local content that audiences can relate to.

Take ‘Rashash’ for example, which is the biggest Arabic production by a streaming company to date. It was watched around 40 million times and was watched in every country in the world, at least once! Remaining the #1 title in the GCC throughout the show’s eight-week duration, making it by far the most successful Shahid Original to date.

VOD original productions are expected to increase in the coming years, as they present brands with unique integration opportunities that are not available in internationally acquired shows.

Leveraging a local production means your brand can be present throughout a show that targets and represents their own audience.

We’ve been providing integrated branded content solutions to deliver their desired messages in an unobtrusive way and without interruption.

For the first time in MENA—native formats have been introduced on Shahid that look and feel seamless to the browsing experience using Pause Ads, which are digital static ads that appears when a user pauses the show, which does not interrupt his or her viewing experience.


What’s next?

Establishing an in-house commercial division has empowered us to work more closely with our partners to seamlessly deliver against brand briefs and challenges, enabling us to provide better integrated solutions across our television, digital, radio and video-on-demand platforms.

MMS has been utilizing the latest measurement technologies to provide data-driven solutions. Despite our best efforts, measurement continues to be a challenge for our industry. With the introduction of People Meter next year, we will be able to provide enhanced solutions that help our clients better plan their marketing strategies and identify opportunities that deliver on their expectations. Furthermore, the implementation of blockchain technology aims to combat major challenges such as fraud and waste, specifically within the digital landscape.

Moving forward, we will introduce new solutions that can drive business objectives across various stages of the customer journey. These include commerce, addressable audiences, social media & data buying solutions. It is an exciting future ahead and we will look forward to working closely with our clients and agency teams to drive business growth.