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Google and Twitter Execs Talk Digital Ads, Content in Abu Dhabi

MENA accounts for 6% of the global Twitter community

With the digital advertising space growing rapidly, the Middle East and Asia are the regions with most potential to leapfrog traditional ad practices, senior execs from companies including Google and Twitter agreed on Wednesday, speaking at the 4th Abu Dhabi Media Summit.

Javier Zapatero, Google topper for Southern Europe and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, said he was optimistic about MENA becoming a leader in the new order of advertising, claiming it had the “most potential” since it had the “least legacy in the advertising industry.”

Twitter Vice President International, Shailesh Rao (pictured) pointed out that MENA is a huge contributor to the Twitter community, accounting for 6% of the 230 million people who currently use Twitter around the world.

Interestingly, more than 70% of Twitter users are located outside the U.S. Another fascinating factoid: over one billion tweets are generated every two days.

Though pleased with how advertisers, including those in MENA, are responding to Twitter, Rao was also concerned that the speed of change in the global advertising arena should be quicker.

“If you look at the facts, the digital ad space has been growing, year on year, for the past decade or so,” Rao said.

But the Twitter exec went on to lament that despite enormous opportunities on these platforms to take advantage of audiences “we haven’t seen advertisers or agencies move fast enough.”

As far as the impact of social media – specifically Twitter – on content, Sony India (Multi Screen Media) CEO Man Jit Singh during a separate panel earlier in the day noted that for Sony India, what is trending on Twitter is helping to determine storylines in their locally produced soaps.

Back to the evolution of advertising in the digital space, Google’s Zapatero underscored that for advertisers and marketers it’s no longer just about reach and frequency. It’s about capturing consumers with what they want to see.

“The challenge is simple: how do we earn the right to be chosen? How do we earn the right to engage with people?,” Zapatero said.


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