What are the biggest problems and greatest opportunities facing the UAE’s OOH industry?
I would like to focus on the positives of the market, as in this challenging market most people are dwelling on the problems of over-supply of low quality outdoor advertising signage and reduced budgets.
In a tough market, clients tend to rush towards quality and focus on where their customers spend their time and money. BackLite Media’s signage on Sheikh Zayed Road and at City Walk continue to sell extremely well. We have been pleased to see that advertisers continue to prefer high-quality signs in key locations, as opposed to a shot-gun approach of just taking random signs across the city.
How do you see digital OOH developing?
Like the rest of the world, digital out-of-home revenue growth will continue to out-pace all other media (print, tv, traditional outdoor). We will see that trend continue, in particular with the installation of world-class digital networks like our partner, Meraas, has installed at City Walk.
What are your views on the quality and quantity of outdoor media locations in Dubai?
For a city that typically demands the best, the quality of outdoor advertising is not great. We see the continual installation of signage that relies on antiquated, old-fashioned front- projection for lighting systems (lighting systems that are the same as when I started in the business 15 years ago in Russia!) as opposed to advanced and energy efficient systems that BackLite is installing.
This lack of investment in signage is being partially driven by the short-term nature of landlord contracts and the continual over-supply of signs. We estimate that the number of advertising ‘faces’ in Dubai has increased by over 150% over the past six years whereas the OOH market growth has been generally flat.
BackLite Media has been a major player – and a major influence – on Dubai’s OOH market since its formation in 1996; what are BackLite’s plans to continue and build on that reputation?
Since coming to Dubai over a decade ago, I have always held BackLite Media in high regard and considered the company the best outdoor operator in the Middle East. I have always been impressed with their focus on quality in terms of printing, lighting and of course, the best locations in the country. So, when I had the chance to move to BackLite, I jumped on it.
Looking forward to the next decade, we will certainly continue to provide our advertisers the most advanced signs in the market. No doubt that that will include digitalization of some key locations on Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as growing our current portfolio to ensure that our clients always have the best locations to drive their sales.