UAE Audience Measurement Project

Overview & Scope


UAE population is unique in the world. Its media landscape is equally so. It is demographically fragmented (Over a 100 nationalities) and ranks high in terms of its maturity in digital advancement. At the same time UAE’s media industry measurement largely remains underdeveloped. Lack of shared industry data makes planning of and measuring advertising and media investments difficult. The lack of such data does not also help content producers and media owners plan for growth.

Cross cultural TV content (Pan Arab viewership at 30%, South Asian at 40% combined), high penetration of digital platforms (100% smart phone penetration), high penetration of SVOD and OTT (Shahid, Netflix and Starzplay combined take on 67% penetration as per estimates by eMarketer) are all factors that add complexity to the job, and require robust mechanisms of measurement to be in place.

Why do we need an industry measurement system?

It could be argued that in the age of digital platforms and programmatic advertising – an industry measurement system may not add significant value. While this may hold some weight for what is known as “performance” or “Lower Funnel” advertising in digital channels, it is certainly not true for large scale brand building “upper funnel” work.

Planning for “reach” remains fundamental for large scale advertisers. Effective planning for reach demands answers to some crucial questions for advertisers and content platforms alike. A large part of that reach is driven through video advertising. Some of the questions that audience measurement systems help answer are:

  • How can we obtain baseline data on the media scene across UAE through an establishment survey of sorts
  • Who is watching what, where and how are they receiving that signal?
  • Do I have a measure of cross platform reach? Or am I buying the same audience across all platforms leading to ineffective investments?
  • Am I reaching my target audiences as intended? Is my reach verified by a third party? It is said that over 50% of the digital impressions are either not seen at all or not seen by the intended target audience. It is also believed that the same percentage of ads on long form content are either skipped or “zapped” (in traditional broadcasting environments)
  • How do we measure a Digital Share of Spend? Specially within a set group of upper funnel advertisers?
  • Can we put in place UAE specifics standards on Viewability in place across digital platforms?

Recommended Way Forward

With this context, the Advertiser Business Group UAE proposes to the industry the following way forward to explore solutions for a UAE Audience Measurement solution.

  • Craft and Agree a scope and approach for this measurement system
  • Consider dependencies affecting a UAE measurement solution – such as, but not limited to, the industry measurement initiative in KSA, presence of any existing such measurements such as the Nielson Ad Ratings, implications of TCIP and Data regulations such as GDPR, fragmentation of ad dollars across media vendors etc.
  • Agree and put in place a governance mechanism for this project
  • Agree a funding mechanism for the project – including the seed funding needed to kick off the project.
  • Draft and roll out the RFP to invite solutions for this measurement.

The ambition will be to drive all the above within 2020.