Following today’s announcement that BackLite Media has been awarded the advertising concession for The Galleria Al Maryah Island Mall we invited Ali Chab, BackLite Media’s Head of Malls, to share his thoughts about mall advertising, consumer habits and – of course – about BackLite’s plans for The Galleria Al Maryah Island Mall.
Q. Hello Ali, and welcome to the BackLite Newsletter. You have racked up a great deal of experience in mall advertising over the last few years – tell us how the market has evolved in that time.
A. We all know that shopping is a key part of modern culture and society. This is especially true here in the Middle East, where we’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s best shopping malls. So it’s no surprise that footfall in malls across the Middle East is high, something developers and retailers here are all too aware of. With that in mind, they’ve realised the important role quality signage plays in attracting and stimulating mall audiences. What’s been particularly great to see is the way that advertisers have raised the bar in not compromising on the quality execution of their ideas when it comes to mall branding. At the same time, malls are becoming increasingly aware of the need to keep the standards high and impress their visitors with quality visual output, a win-win situation I say!
Q. With E-commerce gaining so much popularity in the region in terms of buying habits, how do you see this affecting malls?
A. Online shopping is growing rapidly, indicating that regional consumers are quick early adopters of trends. The retail market is no different, and it now has to adapt rapidly. Instore shopping still remains the shopping channel of choice in the Middle East with 54% of the population still preferring the bricks and mortar of a physical retail outlet. We are seeing however that purchases made through smart phones is currently at 33%, as reported by PwC, so one to keep a close eye on. I for one look at that the current landscape as providing an ideal opportunity to welcome change and explore new and innovative ways to cater to ever evolving customer expectations.
Q. What are malls currently doing to adapt to the current consumer habits?
A. The traditional concept of Malls is shifting away from only being a place to shop, — to now being a place to be entertained, whilst still fulfilling customer’s needs. Go to a mall today and there is a lot more going on than just a series of stores positioned side by side. Malls now have cinema’s, play areas, live entertainment, interactive experiences, ski slopes and aquariums! . Thinking outside the box to enhance the customer experience is key to the future success of malls, and quality OOH signage serves well to provide appealing visual stimulation for shoppers.
Q. As a leading OOH media company in UAE, tell us how BackLite is contributing to improve mall advertising?
A. Backlite is investing heavily in technology using various tools such as data analytics, audience measurement, audience composition and much more. These innovative tools help us push efficient, quality content to our consumers, with messages that speak their language and engage them in the right manner. This will revolutionize OOH advertising – specifically for malls.
Q. BackLite was recently awarded a 10-year-contract for all advertising and promotional activities across The Galleria Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, how big a coup is this for BackLite?
A. Working alongside The Galleria Al Maryah Island to deliver Abu Dhabi’s largest retail signage network has been a fantastic experience for us. We are taking on the full operational scope of the mall’s advertising and promotional requirements and deploying over 200 screens, indoor and outdoor to provide the most advanced signage network platform in the world. The whole team and I are incredibly excited to see in this new chapter for BackLite, and are keen to secure more key wins like this in the future.
Q. What do advertisers stand to gain from utilizing one of the 200 screens at the mall?
A. We are deploying some of the world’s most advanced digital signage solutions to create exceptional value for advertisers, who stand to gain tremendous audience insights through our data analytics and booking technologies. To compliment this, we will deploy best-in-class technology to ensure not only the highest standards of aesthetics but also to create value for our advertisers – a top priority for us all here at BackLite.