Multi-screening Changes Spend Trends in Unique Media Market

A young and technologysavvy population is embracing smartphones and the digital world they are connected to, and advertising investment is pursuing them

Saudi Arabia reportedly has the highest per-capita YouTube use of any country in the world, with more than 2.4 million users, and is home to more than 40% of all active Twitter users and 10 per cent of Facebook users in the Arab region. Twitter users include prominent clerics and members of the Saudi royal family.

Saudi Arabia is unique in that it has primarily been an ad market driven not by television, as we see in most countries in the world, but by newspapers, which account for half of all measured media spend. There are more than 10 national daily papers as well as regional newspapers.

The Saudi Arabian media landscape is closely monitored to guard against any content that is disrespectful of Islam, disparaging of the government or culturally offensive. Almost all domestic broadcasters are operated by the state-run Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (BSKSA).

GroupM monitoring in this market shows that as online grows in appeal, newspapers have been losing significant ground with advertisers; spend in newspapers fell by 7 percent a year in each of the past two years, and dropped 34 percent in the first half of 2016. Magazines, too, are suffering as brands drift away from print. Television investment has declined heavily since 2013 but the pace of the decline has begun to slow, and radio, which accounts for about 20 percent of total monitored spend, is flat. Digital ad spend is not yet monitored.

The “Connected Consumer” study by Kantar TNS and Google shows that Saudis have an average of two internet-connected devices each, and nine in 10 adults are online, compared to 37 percent in Egypt and 91 percent in the UAE.

Going Digital

2.3% Connected devices each

86% of adults use a smartphone

90% of adults are online

13% are ‘triple screeners’, using a smartphone, tablet and a PC to go online

34% use only a smartphone to access the internet

89% of smartphone users use their phone while watching TV

Online activity

Ad spend by medium

Ad spend by category

Leisure and personal care brands are the biggest investors in advertising in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, with finance, food and clothing among the fastest-growing. The chart below covers all six GCC markets, of which Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest. Saudi Arabia’s GDP is only slightly less than the GDP of the other five GCC member states combined.

Most popular brands on Facebook in Saudi Arabia

Theory in Action

Using social media to make a splash

Virgin Mobile entered Saudi Arabia in 2014 as a new name up against well-established and trusted local and regional brands. The brand drew on the popularity of Facebook – which at that time had 9 million Saudi subscribers – to quickly gain awareness of the Virgin brand ahead of its launch, and retarget people who had shown an interest. Video and still ads in Facebook users’ news feeds helped get the message out, encouraging consumers to visit the Virgin site and select their new mobile number. Within a year, Virgin Mobile had signed up more than one million subscribers.

BrandZ Saudi Arabia Top 20 2017

BrandZ LATAM 2017 Report Top 20 Report

Top 20 Infographic


Methodology and valuation by Kantar Millward Brown