1 2015 CONTENT MARKETING SURVEY
2 Page 1 The results are in and revealed for the Middle East Content Marketing Survey Content marketing has been responsible for much of the marketing buzz for at least two years and now it has finally become a recognised discipline which any savvy marketer needs to adopt into their strategy. However, we are always lacking good quality, reliable data to help us understand the trends and activity in the region. With the launch of Zeentree.com this year, an e-commerce service that overcomes content creation challenges, we needed to thoroughly understand the importance of content marketing in the Middle East. We are confident marketers across the region will also find this survey both timely and useful in allowing them to benchmark their trends and practices in content marketing, undoubtedly the fastest growing online marketing channel. Lee Mancini Managing Director Zeentree.com
3 Page 2 Introduction Content marketing is the marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action - Content Marketing Institute 2014 Content marketing s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it. It is now an essential marketing tactic and one that has gained incredible momentum over the past few years, driven by one overwhelming factor; the exploding information density on the web. Brands are now challenged with evolving their strategies to reach customer mindshare through all this density. In the UK alone, 63% of marketers claim to publish new content daily or multiple times per week*. In the US, a quarter of marketing budgets are now spent on content marketing**. But how well are marketers in the Middle East committed to content marketing, what is the state of the industry, and where is it heading this year and beyond? To answer those questions, Zeentree.com surveyed marketing professionals attending The Dubai Lynx International Advertising Festival of Creativity in Communications and Ideas in March The resulting survey provides a snapshot of many aspects of content marketing, from who is using content marketing, their favourite tactics, budgets, outsourcing, and the challenges and obstacles to climb in creating quality content in the Middle East. * **
4 Page 3 Overview of the respondents: The Lynx festival attracts the best and brightest of advertising talent in the region who come together to share ideas. The festivals participants, and therefore, the surveys respondents can be considered to be foremost amongst thought leaders and leading professionals driving the advertising industry in the Middle East. Sekari asked 104 of the top agency professionals questions about the future of content marketing in the region. Of the sample surveyed, 82 worked within agencies, and 21 were from brand side or media. Respondent job titles were across the full spectrum, ranging from General Manager to Creative Director, to Account Manager and Account Executive.
5 Page 4 Which markets do brands/clients target? Middle East marketers are mainly focused on MENA but some reach as far out as Americas and Asia-Pacific. The survey respondents work across multiple markets globally, but most were focused on the MENA region. The number one market was unsurprisingly the UAE, the focus for 18% of respondents, followed closely by other countries in MENA for 16% of respondents, mostly Egypt and Lebanon. Considering the size of the market in Saudi Arabia, only 14% of those surveyed targeted the market. This could be perhaps due to the desire for KSA brands to manage their marketing efforts in-country, rather than via a hub office in the UAE. Outside of the MENA region, 4% reported working in Europe, while 4% reported working in Asia-Pacific and 3% work in the Americas. (MARKET %) 18% 16% 14% % 14 10% 8% % 4% 2% % UAE Other countries in MENA Saudi Arabia Qatar Kuwait Bahrain Oman Europe Asia-Pacific America s 2 Central Asia
6 Page 5 What languages are brands/clients using for communications and what are the challenges to producing multilingual content? Only 38% Produce Content in Arabic, with quality assurance cited as the biggest challenge to producing communications in multiple languages. Language was one area where there was a lot of agreement. Nearly all agencies and brands produce communications in English 49%, with only 38% producing content in Arabic. As Arabic reaches 4th on the list of most-used languages on the internet*, perhaps brands need to reconsider their language focus. Even fewer produce content in French, which is surprising for a region where countries such as Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria have French-speaking populations. However, it is apparent that creating multilingual content comes with its own challenges. Of those who produce communications in multiple languages, 20% of respondents highlighted quality assurance as the biggest challenge. Another 17% are held back by time restraints; finding that creating content in additional languages just takes too long. Other issues that came to the fore involved cost and resource; 15% stated high cost as the main concern, with 13% reporting lack of internal resource as a challenge to producing multilingual communications. *Source: (LANGUAGES %) 50% 40% 49 30% 38 20% 10% 0% English Arabic French Other Asian Other European Languages Languages 1 Other
7 Page 6 What are your brand s biggest challenges in creating content in multiple languages? (CHALLENGE %) 20% Quality Assurance 17% Takes too Long 15% High Cost 13% Lack of Internal Resource 10% Measuring ROI 10% Managing Vendors 9% Brand Consistency 6% Low ROI Expectations
8 In MENA, we [agencies] think in English, but the consumer speaks Arabic. This can risk the work being bland and irrelevant, missing the point, or getting lost in translation. To get around this with a brief in English, one possibility is to base creative around doing things, since many activities are universal and the meaning isn t lost. But ideally, briefs for the region should be written in Arabic, so that the language, tone, culture, and values can be consistent from the beginning. Fadi El Chamaa Chief Creative Officer, TripleTwo.
9 Page 7 Which online marketing channels below do marketers use? Content marketing is now the second most popular digital marketing channel, just behind social media. Respondents use a wide variety of online marketing channels, at an average of 5 channels per respondent. The most popular channel was social media, as almost a fifth included it in their media plans, not surprising given its reach and low cost. Content marketing was a close second at 13%, highlighting how far content marketing has come, steadily gaining influence in this region. However, the region may have a fair way to go to keep up with its global counterparts as 60% of UK marketers report having a documented content marketing strategy in place this year*. At 12%, mobile marketing was the third largest channel used, which makes sense given the increasing focus by brands and social media platforms like Facebook, and also due to the high mobile penetration and mobile usage in the region. Video advertising, display advertising, and marketing each had between 10 to 11% of respondents. Surprisingly, SEO was only reported as a channel strategy by 9%, which may reflect how specialist the disciplined has become and an indication of how it is no longer managed by full service agencies; either being taken in-house or outsourced to a specialist dedicated search agency. Native advertising was only reported as an online channel by 8% of respondents. This is surprising given the number of agencies that took the survey, and shows the region is lagging behind in adopting the new face of advertising and creative communications; a channel which is making great strides internationally, allowing for deeper customer engagement and more dynamic content. *Source:
10 Page 8 Which online marketing channels below do marketers use? (Graph) (CHANNEL %) 20% 16% 18 12% 8% 4% 0% Social Media 13 Content Marketing 12 Mobile Marketing 11 Video Advertising Display Advertising Advertising SEO 9 8 Native Advertising 5 PPC 3 Affiliate Marketing 1 Price Comparison Sites
11 Page 9 What types of content has your brand developed during the past year? Video is gaining pace and is the second most popular type of content developed by brand, only second to social media. Whilst social media was the clear leader of the content pack, Middle East marketers have been making use of a wide array of content options to drive their messages through. The combination of video, webinars and podcasts made up 15% of the content tactics used, closely followed by news articles at 13%, with blogs, posts and online articles coming close at 12%. The popularity of infographics continues to make its mark at 10%. came in at 8%, perhaps a statement of its perceived decline in effectiveness. Digital magazines and printed magazines were on a similar footing at 7-8% with reports, research and white papers at 5%, reflecting the more laborious efforts required to produce these. (TYPE OF CONTENT %) 20% 22 15% 10% 5% 0% Social Media Video, Webinars, Podcasts News articles, Content 12 Blog posts/ Online articles 10 Infographics 8 8 Digital Magazines 7 Printed newsletters, Magazines Reports, Research, 5 White Papers
12 We ve been unshackled from very expensive TV advertising. Now you can infinitely customize your message, but the downside is that consumers are constantly bombarded by content, from agencies and everyone else. Creating a compelling story is critical, because unlike the days when broadcast TV reigned supreme, now no one has to watch you. Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, Chief Innovation Officer Leo Burnett Group MENA.
13 Page 10 What % of your digital marketing budget will be spent on content in 2015? Over a third (38%) of Digital Marketers believe Content Marketing will take over a quarter of their future marketing budgets. Over half of respondents (56%), predicted that content marketing would become between 1-25% of the total digital budget. The most significant indication of Content s growing importance lies in the high number, 31%, who reported that content marketing would grow to become 26-50% of the total digital budget - which means that some agencies or brands are using content marketing for as much as half their digital budget. While content marketing may be a newer addition to an agency s arsenal, marketers are increasingly turning their attention towards it as it s grown quickly to be a key focus for 2015, and budgets are catching up. (BUDGET %) 60% 50% 56 40% 30% 20% 31 10% 0% % 26-50% 51-75% No Budget %
14 Page 11 How do you expect your content budget to change in 2015? 74% of marketers expect their content marketing budgets to increase next year. When it comes to the funding allocated to content marketing, a strong majority, 60%, expects their content budget to increase for Of those, 14% expect it to increase significantly, while only 3% expect it to decrease, showing that Middle East brands are indeed committed to content marketing. None of the respondents expected their content budgets would significantly decrease, whilst 23% of those surveyed reported they expected budgets to remain about the same for the coming year. (RESPONSE %) 70% 60% 50% 60 40% 30% 20% 23 10% 0% Increase Remain the Same Significantly Increase Decrease Significantly Decrease
15 Whether it s traditional or innovative types of content that feed the marketing strategy, the way that it s evaluated remains the same. In some ways, this hasn t changed, we always measured PR by media value and we now measure content by media value. On top of measuring media value in terms of sizes and inches, with digital we measure the clicks, views and click-throughs so we can link to ecommerce, test-drives, shares and likes, or applications downloaded. Michael Nederlof CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Middle East and North Africa
16 Page 12 How important do marketers expect content marketing to be to their future marketing efforts? The industry is agreed: content marketing is here to stay and it is getting more important. The survey respondents are in widespread agreement on the importance of content to future marketing efforts: 69% reported that content marketing would be very important for 2015, while another 25% said it would be somewhat important. Content marketing has clearly come a long way; a very small number, 2%, regarded it as unimportant and 4% said they did not understand what it was. So the industry is agreed: content marketing is here to stay, and it s only getting more important. (RESPONSE %) 70% 60% 69 50% 40% 30% 20% 25 10% 0% Very Important Somewhat Important 4 Not sure what content marketing means 2 No importance/ Not applicable
17 Page 13 Who Produces your company s/client s content? Content production is largely an in-house exercise. In terms of who produces the agency or brand s content, overall a large share of respondents, 58%, reported that it was done in-house. Interestingly, for those who worked client side, 81% had in-house resources responsible for content marketing, with only 5% employing an external dedicated content marketing agency. Only 76% of agency representatives reported having dedicated internal resource, choosing in some instances to outsource to other specialists including content marketing agencies (13%) and freelancers (7%). Given that advertising and marketing agencies are likely to have access to more talented writers externally, these answers aren t too surprising, however outside of these creative industries, recruiting and retaining such talent is likely to cause barriers to the creation of consistently engaging content. On the flip side, if agencies are inclined to outsource more of this work, this may impact and reduce cost efficiency, as external costs are passed on to the client. (RESPONSE %) 60% 50% 58 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% In-House Department Content Marketing Agency Freelancer PR Agency
18 Page 14 What obstacles does your company face when creating content for marketing purposes? Lack of budget cited as the largest barrier to content creation. Given that most of the content is produced in-house, it makes sense that the biggest reported challenge of creating content was lack of budget, (24%), followed by lack of perceived value/roi for 18% of respondents. High cost (14%) and lack of resources (13%), were also reported as challenges to content production, which suggests that when budgets loosen and measurement improves, then content marketing will get easier for the agencies and brands who rely on it. For many who are just cutting their teeth at content marketing, it is not surprising that forecasting and understanding the ROI presents a major challenge. (RESPONSE %) 25% 20% 24 15% 18 10% 5% % Lack of Budget Lack of Perceived Value/ROI High Costs Lack of Resources Lack of Measurement Insufficient Agency Expertise Insufficient in-house Expertise
19 When the industry understands the value of outsourcing content production to services such as Zeentree.com which is both incredibly cost efficient and right on-track in terms of automatically measuring ROI, content creation will become a smoother process for agencies and brands for who it is fast becoming an essential requirement. Lee Mancini Managing Director, Zeentree.com
20 2015 Content Marketing Survey by Zeentree.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any informationstorage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Copyright Zeentree.com Ltd 2015