Online advertising is still in double digit growth worldwide: after a 19% growth in 2008 and a 9% growth in 2009 (yes it is due to the crisis and NOT to the market saturation) worldwide online advertising growth is expected to reach 11% in 2010 (according to e-Marketer). So yes, the spending on online advertising is very healthy ($64.69 billion).
Online advertising and communication include many frameworks. Whether it is to create a website, an online newsletter, to launch banners on many existing online sources (newsmagazines, diverse websites, social networks…) or to monitor what is being said about your brand on social media and to engage online communities in your brand’s (or company’s) project, online media are very efficient (if not the MOST efficient) when to comes to acknowledging reputation (by mastering word-of-mouth), targeting people according to their interests, and measuring the impact of your campaign, especially for small businesses (contrary to what one may think)
But why are we still behind in Lebanon?
There are about 1 570 000 internet users in Lebanon today (for a population of 4 million people) against 950 000 in 2007 according to Internet World Stats. Despite this growth of 65%, the online advertising market is still behind especially compared to other forms of advertising. It appears that one of the main reasons comes from the advertising agencies themselves that are still reticent which is why they do not always include an online section part of the global strategies they sell to their clients.
Why? Simply because there are two types of clients: the ones who have caught the importance of being present online, because their marketing executives are young and they were born with the digital era, and the ones who still don’t see the interest in converting to these new forms of marketing because the traditional means are enough for them. They do not understand that internet is the unique mass media allowing a direct interaction between the brands and their consumers. Will all lebanese based advertising agencies will be able to sell cross-media campaigns to their clients when it is the right thing to do?
The main obstacle to an unstoppable growth of online advertising strategies in Lebanon is essentially (and unfortunately) structural. It comes, and it is no surprise for anyone, from the underdeveloped telecommunications facilities. Without the appropriate infrastructure, internet will never become common practice whether it is for the ad agencies, their clients or the consumers.
The explosion of the number of Lebanese on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and the emergence of bloggers and other digital influencers talking about subjects other than politics as well as the majority of newsmagazines going (or growing) online is, without any doubt, the main signal that the Lebanese audience is ready, not only for online advertising, but most certainly for a web 2.0 revolution.
Let’s just hope that broadband won’t be arriving very late…