Media professionals at a forum here said yesterday that there is huge potential for online advertisement in Qatar.
Advertisers rely heavily on conventional media, especially newspapers, and should explore new avenues, speakers said.
Some, however, said although Qataris have been demanding the expansion of digital market, the fact that there were a few Qataris in the Northwestern University at Qatar’s 3rd Media Industries Forum was a disappointment.
A large number of celebrated media experts attended the event.
Data revealed at the forum showed that there was ‘exponential growth’ in advertising market, while digital marketing was a sector that remained largely untapped.
Sami Raffoul, CEO of the Pan-Arab Research Centre, said there was ‘an exponential growth’ in Qatar’s media market compared to other major media markets in the region such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. He also said that advertisers spent over $500m in 2013 on newspaper advertisements in Qatar.
This year’s edition of the forum was based on feedback received from Qatar’s media leaders last year, who identified the perceived lack of data on the media market and its impact on decision-making as the two pressing issues.
Some attendees, who were surprised by the low turnout of Qataris, said it was essential for Qatari experts to mark their presence at key media forums, some of whom were often critical of similar discussions not highlighting concerns of local media.
“How can Qatari media representatives criticise such forums without attending them?
“If they want to discuss their concerns, they have to be present,” one critic attending the forum said.
Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon, Founder of iLoveQatar.net, said it was important for Qatari executives and editors to attend a forum that featured industry leaders and trendsetters.
“It would have been great to have seen more of Qatari executives and editors attend, though. In the room we were only three or four Qataris.”
Haroon, who also spoke at a panel discussion, said there could be a number of possible reasons why attendance by locals was so low. One of them could be due to the fact that the forum was held primarily in English, although there were Arabic translations available.
“We can only speculate. I’d love to reach out to key media members and encourage more people to attend so that we can all get a better understanding of the media landscape and the future for content creation in Qatar,” Haroon said. Asked about the low turnout of Qatari executives, the Dean and CEO of NU-Q, Everette Dennis, said: “They have been here in the past but they may not have been interested in the topics being discussed today.
“Some people are more interested in the topic of market and others are more interested in news issues such as content and freedom of expressions, we discuss different issues in different sessions.” He said he was pleased with the turnout, which included broad representation from magazine groups, newspapers, public relation departments and advertisement agencies.
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