Abdulla Alhammadi: ‘The advertising industry in KSA has massive potential’
Posted on 2021 Sep,20  | By Ghada Azzi

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In order to gain a greater perspective into the pulse of the KSA’s ad industry, we talked to Abdulla Alhammadi, Regional Business Lead at Snap Inc. in MENA to learn about his outlook on the rate and pace of change in the kingdom, on the biggest transformations the ad business is witnessing, and on the biggest challenges Snap Inc. will be facing this year.

What follows is Abdulla Alhammadi’s take on a market that is witnessing unprecedented transformations.


It is believed that the rate and pace of change in the Kingdom is currently very high. How true is that, and how would you assess the overall pulse of the Saudi ad industry? What about the Snap community in KSA?

We’ve seen that digital transformation in particular has been widely embraced across many segments of the Saudi economy and society. Indeed, it is a key component of the wider changes underway within the Vision 2030 strategy.

The advertising industry is no exception. The potential for brands when it comes to digital marketing in Saudi Arabia is immense. This is in part driven by the fact that the Kingdom is a hyper-connected society with high mobile penetration and access to powerful 5G infrastructure. Combined with a relatively high GDP per capita and a substantial portion of the population being young digital natives, consumers have an expectation for seamless and engaging online experiences. 

As far as Snap is concerned, there is a fundamental understanding of our holistic value proposition--whether in communication, entertainment, commerce, or other areas. That is reflected in the continued growth of our Snap community in KSA. We now have a monthly addressable reach of 19.5 million users in the Kingdom. Snapchat reaches over 90% of 13-34 year-olds in the Kingdom, and nearly 90% of our daily users interact with Lenses every day.

Through the Snap camera, we are able to shape the future of how people in Saudi Arabia experience the world around them; combining what they see in the real world with all that’s available to them in the digital world.


What are the biggest transformations that the ad business in KSA is witnessing? And how is it impacting Snaps MENA business?

Perhaps the most significant shift as a result of the Kingdom’s wider digital transformation has been the democratization and decentralization of creativity. The use of creative technologies has delivered new value for brands while also raising the quality of life across communities. We believe that there’s no better and more exciting way to envision this future than through the camera.

With that in mind, we recently unveiled a study exploring how Snapchatters in Saudi Arabia are adopting new behaviours and values. For example, the Snapchat generation is 1.2 times more likely than non-Snapchatters to feel like they are a part of otherslives via their stories on apps. They also have significant discretionary spending power, estimated at a whopping SAR1.4 trillion, and are 1.3x more likely than non-Snapchatters to say they are using AR to try on products more than they did one year ago.

Moreover, Snapchat is a platform people go to for key moments. During the 2020 Saudi National Day week, for instance, we witnessed a 123% surge in Lens usage compared to the 2020 average [1]. Over 13.8 million Snapchatters in Saudi Arabia watched content on Snapchat during the week, and story posts alone grew by +100% in the Kingdom [2]. As another example, Snapchatters in KSA spent 77 mins daily on the app during Ramadan 2020; a 20% increase year-on-year on average.


Unprecedented transformation is affecting every aspect of Saudi life and business. What do you think will be your biggest challenge this year?

This is the year of transition as the country, and indeed the globe, looks towards a post-COVID recovery. Saudi Arabia is well positioned for this with its advanced digital infrastructure and continued prioritization of economic sustainability and diversification. Within that landscape, the advertising industry in KSA has massive potential, with a general readiness to leverage the latest digital tools and strategies. Snapchat has already pioneered many innovations in this space, and the capabilities that we offer brands remain truly unparalleled in the market. 


Have brands become increasingly comfortable with digital advertising on platforms like Snapchat? Where is the budget and attention being focused on the most?

We believe that AR is the future of immersive customer experiences, and that is something that has clearly resonated with brands in Saudi Arabia as they become more comfortable with innovative creative platforms. Were now looking at everything from facilitating virtual try-ons, catalog browsing, showrooming, and much more with brand partners.

This appetite can again be seen in key moments throughout the year. During last years Saudi National Day period, more than 20 Lenses were activated on Snapchat by partners including STC, Mobily and others generating over 355,000 hours of AR playtime. Our data shows that during the same period, campaigns running Lenses on Snapchat delivered a 7x average purchase value compared to the average for all formats.

For advertisers, were bringing the same level of data-driven measurement and management thats available for video ads to AR, so that brands running such campaigns can optimize against many of the same goals offered for other formats.


Advertisers willing to experiment with media campaigns on leading social networks now have a distinct advantage moving forward. Whether they choose to go big or small, the social web equips advertisers with significantly more consumer data points than ever before to improve the targeting and relevance of their campaign. Where does Snap come in, and what can you offer that in-house marketers cant solely do?

Today there are more opportunities for brand partners than ever before, whether large or small, across any sector. We give brands and creators the best tools to share their stories and connect with audiences in a meaningful way. They in turn seek to capitalize on our unique audience, our innovation, and our scale.

Snapchat offers brands one of the most effective ways to engage with a large, growing, unique, and valuable Millennial and Gen Z audience. What we refer to as the Snapchat Generation -- ages of 13 and 34 -- are real change agents, defining the new trends in consumption, communication, and media usage. As mentioned, they also have significant discretionary spending power, estimated at a staggering SAR1.4 trillion. Snapchat is a bridge to these key audiences; to reach them and to understand them.

In terms of innovation, Snap is really pioneering the future of mobile marketing, from vertical video to augmented reality.

Snapchat has also scaled to become a very mature and effective platform for businesses. We work with industry leaders in nearly every sector, and these partners enjoy sophisticated measurement, ranking, and optimization capabilities on Snapchat to drive relevance and deliver ROI.


[1] Snap Inc. internal data September 23, 2020 vs. January 01, 2020 - December 31, 2020

[2] Snap Inc. Internal data September 23, 2020.