News & Trends

Ramadan 2012 Top MENA’s Consumer Insights on Digital Media

Consumers’ activities saw a major shift during Ramadan due to flexible and shorter working hours. The average time spent watching TV increased significantly during the  Holy Month, with dramas, sitcoms, soaps and religious programmes all enjoying high ratings.

Movies, music and sports channels, however, fared badly. Even news programmes were slightly affected.

Total ad spend for newspapers and television grew to $2.1 billion from $1.58 billion, a rise of 34 per cent. This was driven by increased spend on Pan Arab, Kuwait and Egyptian TV.

The Pan Arab, GCC and Levant regions posted a significant gain of 42 per cent spending on television, buoyed by a 49 per cent rise in spending on Pan Arab media.

Newspaper and TV spend rose 34 per cent across the three markets, while it went up
49 per cent in the Pan Arab region. (Note: We define Pan Arab media as titles that have significant reach in two or more markets.)

Having crossed $1.8 billion, Pan Arab media constituted about 77 per cent of television spend as advertisers focused on multiple markets rather than targeting specific areas through local channels.

Pan Arab newspaper spend remained virtually unchanged with a modest gain of two per cent, but TV spend
increased by nearly 42 per cent. Pan Arab TV media spend hit $1.42 billion during Ramadan, up 49 per cent from last year. It now accounts for 77 per cent of the regional TV spend.

Egypt continued its upward trajectory following a surge of nearly 168 per cent during H1, rising 26 per cent for TV during Ramadan.

In Kuwait, TV made robust gains of 56 per cent during the month.

Pan Arab media became increasingly focused. Advertisers targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia proportionately as per their population.

Telecom brands were the most advertised sector in the region, with
five brands appearing in the top-10 list
of advertised brands. The top five
advertised brands were Etisalat
Egypt, Mobinil, Zain, Chevrolet and 57357 Hospital.

Food and beverages gained 77 per cent to become the second most
advertised sector. Government organisations were third. The same pattern followed TV, but in newspapers the top advertised sectors were government, malls and retails stores, followed
by automobiles.


Egypt replaced the UAE as the biggest ad market in the region in H1, buoyed by a 168 per cent surge in TV spend compared to Ramadan 2009.

The country will most likely emerge as the top spending advertising market in 2010 as TV spend surpassed $141 million, up 26 per cent over Ramadan 2009. The region’s TV spend was up 16 per cent over the same period.

The top five most advertised programmes all had a Pan Arab reach and raked in more than $50 million each. These were: Sheekh Al Arab Al Hamam, AayzaAtjawaz, ZohraWaAzwagha Al Khamsa, Bab Al Hara 5 and Al Aaar.

Al Jamaa, watched mostly by housewives as per PARC’s Egypt TV Ramadan tracking survey, was the most advertised programme. The spend for this programme alone exceeded $20 million. It was followed closely by ZohraWaAzwagha Al Khamsaat $19 million. DawamAlhal was third with nearly $9.3 million.

The top three sectors by spend in Egypt were government communication, utilities and food and beverages. WaqfaMasriya was the region’s most advertised brand in 2010, ranking first on Egyptian TV spend.  Etisalat Egypt and BanqueMisr ranked second and third respectively on Egypt TV. A number of advertisers preferred Pan Arab media to reach the
Egyptian market.

Pan Arab TV gained 49 per cent this Ramadan to attain a total spend of $1.4 billion and the region’s spending on television crossed $1.8 billion for the month.

More stations and advertisers are targeting Egypt than ever before, with ads on main stations such as MBC Group and Rotana. It is likely, therefore, that ads in Pan Arab media will be directed at large markets on programmes with mass appeal.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi market was affected by the 2009 downturn. It posted a five per cent drop overall and 6.5 per cent fall during Ramadan 2009, but recovered in H1 2010 to gain nine per cent compared to the same period last year.

The market witnessed a robust growth of 39 per cent in TV spend compared to the previous year. The average growth during Ramadan was five per cent.
Newspapers, which constitute an
80 per cent share among major media, gained only three per cent compared to Ramadan 2009. The country is
also increasingly being targeted via
Pan Arab media. Local channels contributed only four per cent of the media type share.

The government, with a 21 per cent market share in advertising, was the top spending sector in the market.

Malls and retail stores gained 21 per cent over last Ramadan and were the second biggest ad spenders in the region.

Financial services reversed their decline of 73 per cent during Ramadan by posting an 87 per cent growth. Most of the sectors were in the black, with the exception of publishing media and real estate.

The top five spenders in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan were Zain, STC, Al Ber Charity, Sony and Ford.

The market, in all likelihood, will attain double-digit growth in 2010, but main advertisers with brands spread across the region will also use Pan Arab media to achieve better regional reach.


TV spend on local UAE channels reached $36 million, a four per cent growth.

Spend in daily newspapers – $74
million – fell 10 per cent since Ramadan coincided with school holidays. Some dailies stopped publishing, switched to online or reduced publishing frequency during the month.

Government and malls were the biggest spenders in local papers and TV during Ramadan. The third biggest was automotive. The top three most advertised sectors during Ramadan on TV were government, shopping malls and
publishing media.

The top five most advertised programmes across UAE channels were Shaabeyat Cartoon 5, Al Ghafa, Ma Asaab Al Kalam, Al Shara, and

The top five most advertised brands across local newspapers were du, Etisalat, Carrefour, Sony and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

Spend for newspapers and TV reached $110 million, which was more in line with Ramadan 2007 when it was nearly $107 million.

In Ramadan 2008 spend rose 75 per cent, but Ramadan 2009 plummeted by 38 per cent. This year Ramadan saw a six per cent decline, although as the trends indicate the last quarter of 2010 is likely to see positive growth.


The views expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of PARC.

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