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State of the industry

by Roger Field on Sep 18, 2017

Fast rising levels of local production offer hope for the Middle East region’s production and broadcast industry.
Fast rising levels of local production offer hope for the Middle East region’s production and broadcast industry.

But the major challenge, and one that most producers of corporate and client-based content can relate to, is the pressure being exerted by clients on price, especially when it comes to content for online campaigns. 

“The growth in social media consumption means that clients need more video content. However, they perceive social media videos to be ‘cheaper’ and have a lack of understanding that the production process remains the same,” El Houni says. “The market has become more interested in quantity than quality. At Ti22 Films, we’ve prided ourselves on delivering high-quality videos that deliver an impact and needing to find new creative solutions at a fraction of a cost can be challenging.”

With social media campaigns still a relatively new phenomenon, Reim believes the industry is going through a “learning phase” and that clients are experimenting with the best ways to create content, which includes trying to find cost effective solutions. “I would like to believe that after some experimentation, they will revert back to realising that to get an impactful result they still need to engage with a professional video production entity and go through a proper production process. Just because your audience has moved to online, they still need to be treated in a similar way. Perception is reality; cheap marketing will result in your audience perceiving your brand cheaply, and I believe that organisations will realise this and revert back to quality.”

El Houni sees some room for optimism and views the formation of the UAE Production Forum under the IAA earlier this year as a positive development. “It’s the first time I have seen the industry come together to work on common goals and establish a framework for all of us to work in and co-exist happily. I am proud to be a member and excited to see what collaborating with my competitors can bring to improve the production industry for all of us.”

The sheer amount of video content being consumed in the Middle East is also a cause for optimism, El Houni says. “The region’s consumption of video content is at an all-time high and growing rapidly with the MENA region consuming double the amount of video as the rest of the world, which means that we are finally in the right industry at the right time in the right place. It’s the time to be as nimble as possible to create cost effective solutions for customers as they now need more video than ever before.  I strongly believe that we’ve only scratched the surface with branded content and influencer marketing and the combination of the two is a growth opportunity, which is why we’ve focussed our energy at Ti22 Films on developing our own solutions through online channels like dubai ON demand, which gives brands an opportunity to create engaging content with well-known local personalities at the helm.”

Alaa Al Akawi, founder and creative film director at Artology Creative, agrees that client budgets for corporate films are under pressure, and he believes the onus is on production companies to offer some solutions. “The market is a bit difficult in terms of budget cuts, but the clients still want to do the best they can and have the highest quality ever,” Akawi says. In such situations, Artology Creative works closely with the client to understand what they want and then looks at ways of achieving the desired goals in the allocated budget. Often, there are ways of reducing costs without harming the quality of the work. For example, for one client, Akawi and his team decided that they could use some stock footage alongside CGI to create the effect the client wanted. This reduced the amount of production work required and brought the cost down. The client was delighted with the outcome, according to Akawi.

In other instances, Akawi says that if a client wants to do two projects, the shoots can sometimes be combined to save resources. “If the client wants to produce x and y, let’s lock the concepts and combine them as one project instead of two. Maybe we can give the client a package deal and cut off a day of shooting.”

Mig Cardamone, director of sales and marketing at Sennheiser Middle East, offers a far more upbeat appraisal than most of his peers. Indeed, while most industry insiders see few signs of recovery this year, Cardamone believes 2017 so far has been better than 2016, in terms of confidence at least. “While 2016 was characterised by economic uncertainty, confidence has returned to the market and 2017 is shaping up to be a good year for business. At Sennheiser, we have witnessed 20% year-on-year (YoY) growth of our business-to-business (B2B) and prosumer segments.”

Cardamone is also clear on the main challenges his company faces. “One of the challenges is the inability to create reliable forecasts as business is often impacted by unforeseen political and economic factors. From our years of experience in the Middle East market, an important learning has been that even in challenging times, businesses must continue to invest in the region to ensure local relevance and to build trust and confidence with your customers,” Cardamone says.

Last year, Sennheiser expanded its team in-line with its plan and also conducted several roadshows and training events and participated at industry trade shows including CABSAT, InfoComm MEA, and Prolight + Sound Middle East. These proved to be sound investments. “As soon as market conditions began to improve, we were well positioned to capitalise on new opportunities,” Cardamone says. “We remain optimistic as there is a growing demand for feature-rich, cost-effective solutions, and renewed investment in large projects within the region. The sectors that present the biggest opportunity to the AV-industry include hospitality, retail, education, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

Cardamone adds that Sennheiser has also been driving new business in the prosumer segment with a focus on products that use the latest technologies and features to bring value to the applications that people need. 


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