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Talon MENA’s Head of Marketing Rezarta Bytyci attended The Web Summit in Doha, below she shares her key takeaways from the event 

The Web Summit is the world’s largest technology conference, inaugurating its first Doha edition a few weeks ago. It signals a significant prioritization of the further development of digitalization, AI, and Start-Ups in the MENA region, involving several industries in the public and private sectors and the overall evolution of the market.   

The event hosted over 15,000 with attendees from 118 countries and Talon MENA was part of it. We attended a selection of great talks and panels, starting with the opening night whereby His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the State of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed the Centre Stage audience on Opening Night and announced a substantial USD 1 Billion investment fund for start-ups in Qatar inviting entrepreneurs from the region and worldwide to the country.  

Among the 148 partners exhibiting on the event floor, we connected with our industry friends at Amazon, Snapchat, Invest Qatar, Qatar Airways, and more. 

AI and Digital Policy 

AI was one of the main topics covered throughout the summit, with several panel discussions that repeatedly highlighted the importance of AI being a tool for improvement rather than replacement. Many marketers already find AI helpful as a tool for various processes, and it is imperative to include it in our lives correctly and cautiously. We attended an exciting panel on AI and digital policies in the region where they discussed that incorporating digital policies will have to be built upon culture, history and language. We couldn’t agree more with our experience of how the MENA region differentiates from other markets. 

Transparency and accountability in the development of AI are key. As Basma Ammari, Director of Public Policy at META (MENA), stated, “transparency builds trust and gives people the level of control of what they see in technology.”  

Lars Gehrmann, Chief Digital Officer at Qatar Insurance Group, was confident that “AI is here to stay” and that it solves our current problem of overworking employees. He highlights that employees are being paid to think, so they are essential to using AI. 

The Websummit had a dedicated stage, the Panda Conference, for marketing panels on the ever-evolving topic of customer data and consumer habits in MENA. 

The panel discussion about “The consumer landscape of the Middle East” with the panellists Mai Salama from Creative Industry Summit, Abeer Alessa from The Bold Group, KSA and ANNA Germanos from META laid out a good understanding of consumer behaviour in the region. Smartphone penetration in the Middle East is at 90%. However, the online experience does not take away from any physical activities; in fact, there is a “fluid experience between offline and online for consumers whereby data helps customizing content and creating immersive experiences and leading to user-generated content, too”, as Abeer explained. Abeer also encouraged the industry to invest in AI to stay ahead. 

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The revolution of AI was a consistent topic throughout the summit, whereby several industry experts mentioned its role and what it means for marketing. Concerns such as; will AI be dangerous while we rely too much on it? How can it be regulated? Can it replace human beings? 

AI will create many jobs that don’t exist yet… “it reminds me of WPP 20 years ago when we didn’t have social media managers, influencer managers, e-commerce writers or programmatic managers, … there will be different types of jobs and different types of people to manage the AI technology.” 

At Talon MENA, we are excited to see the region move towards developing data technology in the advertising space. We are interested in customizing ads and content for which many new tools are being developed. Developing infrastructure and a visionary road to digitalization of the region sounds very promising; we ensure we are a continuous part of these developments in the region and emphasize the consistent growth of OOH to keep in line with global standards. 

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Mansour Wehbe, Client Director, Talon MENA.

With technology evolving, as it always has, we’re constantly seeing new ways of how it seamlessly integrates into our physical world. This evolution of blending online and offline experiences offers an exciting opportunity to dominate through digital OOH (DOOH) strategies and experiential activities.

DOOH is facilitating an even bigger role for online to play in the offline world, embracing a future where technology enhances our lives without overshadowing the genuine essence of the tangible world. Looking ahead, we envision a future in which the online world flawlessly operates in the background, enhancing our lives with AI and AR across other physical media platforms.

In this era, brands are expected to pioneer the fusion of both worlds’ touchpoints, impeccably creating concise consumer journeys from the smallest to the biggest screen out there, elevating their targeting game and widening their creative imagination.

Brands can delve more into dynamic advertising and its advantages over traditional/static OOH. Talon’s in-house effectiveness team, sit on a wealth of data, “Talon Benchmarks”, for instance showing the impact of dynamic DOOH led strategies.

There is a +15 per cent higher brain response when viewing dynamic ads and a +48 per cent higher effectiveness versus campaigns that aren’t dynamic.

For brands, DOOH creative must be tailor-made to the format and not the other way around. Each format has distinctive characteristics, and therefore, requires specific creative ideas for smart use for ideal impact on the audience. Copy is important. 60 per cent of DOOH copy is viewed longer than traditional static copy.

For special builds and experiential activities, which can bring online strategies into the real world effectively, there is a +35 per cent higher consideration from audiences. Special built DOOH, such as 3D (anamorphic) attracts +15 per cent more attention as opposed to 2D DOOH.

As technology evolves, so are consumer expectations and attention levels. With Talon as your OOH partner, brands can harness the exciting opportunities that blending online and offline experiences offer, dominating the busy landscape through DOOH strategies and experiential activities.

This article originally appeared in Campaign Middle East, read on page 81.

Talon MENA, the Global and regional Out of Home (OOH) advertising specialist, has joined The Interactive Advertising Bureau GCC (IAB GCC) as a member as of August 2022.

Talon MENA Becomes Member of IAB GCC

Established in May 2019, The IAB GCC is the regional voice and thought leader of the region’s interactive marketing and advertising industry, committed to building a sustainable future for digital advertising.

Through the membership, Talon will bring its expertise in digital and programmatic OOH to the IAB’s activities and initiatives.

“We are delighted to join the IAB GCC and to work alongside fellow members to help positively shape the future of MENA’s OOH industry. Talon recently launched in MENA to accelerate the OOH growth in the region, helping to further educate clients on the extensive OOH opportunities by tapping into richer behavioral and location insights, in order to quantify the channel’s true impact across the customer journey.

We look forward to working with the IAB GCC stakeholders to build on the digital OOH and programmatic conversation” said Chadi Farhat, Managing Director Talon MENA.

Talon today announced further expansion of its global footprint with new offices and leadership in Singapore and Dubai.

Talon Expands Global Presence with Offices in Singapore and Dubai

Melanie Lindquist and Chadi Farhat will lead Singapore and Dubai respectively.  Farhat and Lindquist are tasked with accelerating OOH growth in these key regions; ensuring clients realise the full potential of their OOH investment through Talon’s proprietary technology platforms and award-winning creative innovation.

Talon’s strategy-led leadership will help educate brands and agencies on the extensive OOH opportunities for tapping into richer behavioural and location insights for quantifying the channel’s true impact across the customer journey.

Powered by Talon’s deep investments in market-leading AdTech platforms Talon will offer smarter, data-driven and creative-led OOH planning and buying to offer brands and agencies around the world a powerful path for accessing innovative capabilities to fuel outcomes-based OOH campaigns.

Talon’s international footprint provides on the ground knowledge and expertise that ensures we can effectively plan buy and execute client campaigns in over 100 markets. In partnership with local media owners Talon will make it easier for advertisers in more markets to access and execute captivating and performance-driven OOH campaigns and drive OOH revenue growth.

Barry Cupples, Talon Group CEO commented: “With the continued growth of OOH revenues around the world this is the perfect time for Talon to expand our global presence. Mel and Chadi are first-class operators and we are delighted to have them on board as we continue to deliver our market-leading independent position within OOH. APAC & MENA now have the very best talent, which coupled with Talon’s data-fuelled technology will bring game-changing opportunities for advertisers. 

Supported by clear measurement this will undoubtedly deliver strong client “outcomes” and brand performance, and ultimately provide top and bottom-line growth for advertisers which is at the core of the service Talon strives to deliver.”

APAC – Singapore  

Bringing a wealth of knowledge with her, Lindquist is an awarded media professional who has led marketing, strategy, data and sales operations teams for the past two decades across radio, television, digital, eCommerce and OOH.  After five years in Australian OOH directing client strategy, planning, data and sales operations teams, Lindquist relocated to Singapore in early 2021 and continued to consult and advise on OOH and establish a full-service customer team for a leading Singaporean-based eCommerce technology company. Committed to industry development, Lindquist has also mentored and advised on policy for several industry groups including the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI).

Speaking about her new role in Talon APAC, Lindquist said: “I am thrilled to be joining Talon to deliver scale, agility, and expanded capabilities to the Singapore and APAC region. For the first time brands, agencies and their clients will have the benefit of Talon’s global reach with full service, independent and data-backed expertise as the regional OOH industry develops at an exciting pace.”

MENA – Dubai 

Farhat has spent the last 25 years working across media, marketing, and communication within leading media agency groups in MENA.  In his last role as Chief Investment Officer at Omnicom Media Group, he orchestrated multiple mergers and acquisitions within the industry; with the aim to unremittingly improve the product offerings to the company’s portfolio of advertisers whilst strongly contributing to the growth of the business year on year. Farhat is a passionate, focused and highly driven leader. An envisioned and bold strategist, he has built an illustrious career across the Levant, GCC, and the wider Middle East’s media ecosystem  

Farhat added: “I am hugely excited to be able to bring clients in the MENA region a unique OOH planning and buying offering they cannot find anywhere else.  Talon will provide advertisers with world-class regional and international service, innovative technology capabilities, creative executions and high-touch collaboration to deliver measurable and optimised value, as well as the unmissable outcomes that only OOH can offer.”

Since its inception, online retail has changed immeasurably. Over the past decade alone there have been changes in device usage, channel and an expansion of the global marketplace. Online has grown steadily as a percentage of overall retail sales since 2000. During the last few years online spending has really taken off, coinciding with a slowdown in instore spending, underlining the change in consumer behaviour.

Online retail can provide a quick route to market for many brands and retailers, allowing for tighter turnaround times for fast fashion and an avenue to test new styles with lower cost implications. The core demographic of 15-24s may be easily retargeted with online ads to drive spend, but there is a looming issue expressly championed by many in this demographic that could affect brand popularity and trust.

Fast fashion is a hot topic amongst younger shoppers and experiencing a push back, giving rise to a more ethical, ecologically conscious type of consumer. Seen as increasingly harmful to the environment through its creation of mass amounts of pollution and toxic waste, the 15-24s are the biggest advocate group for environmental concerns. As on the most influential group in the fast fashion space brands need to keep a cautious eye on this evolving trend. While many retailers are including sustainable fashion lines, their main income is from the cheaper, mass produced end of the scale. Getting the balance right of handling 15-24s desire for the latest fashions but in an ecologically conscious manner that doesn’t cost too much, is a difficult line to tread. It’s therefore crucial that brands build trust as a key pillar in their brand perception, who integrate with people’s everyday lives and core beliefs.

Out of Home offers online retailers and opportunity to infiltrate the real-world space, without the need for a brick and mortar store. By using OOH not only do they integrate with consumers everyday lives, but also promote trust and reliability showing that they are able to engage consumers offline as well as on.

Trust & Engagement for Online Retailers

Whilst many online retailers do not spend heavily on OOH, there are immense opportunities for a creative approach when it comes to the OOH landscape. For example, online retailer, Pretty Little Thing, aimed at 14-24s, captured consumers attention through pop-ups at festivals and bus-wraps across major cities in the UK featuring their memorable pink unicorn motif. Taking a creative approach such as this, puts the brands positively in the minds of consumers and helps to cement their authenticity as a reputable business.

Online retailers may be pulling spend away from stores but there are more ways than just online to influence their target audiences. OOH provides a direct way to impact their most influential audience, driving online action and providing lasting memorable experiences through the use of creative experiential OOH. The same experiential OOH that can even be used to capture content to use for online advertising spend to retarget the same group! Overall, online retailers need to remember that targeting consumers through other touchpoints such as OOH offers a tangible and memorable way to drive action, improve brand recall and embed a brand in a consumers mind.