Advertising Investments in Lebanon in 2023: A Remarkable Leap Forward
Posted on 2024 Feb,28  | By Naji Boulos, IAA Lebanon

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Advertisers in Lebanon anticipated the year 2023 with enthusiasm following a relatively encouraging 2022. The parliamentary elections, the gradual invoicing in fresh dollars, and an exceptionally active holiday season had boosted the previous year. This surge came after the dramatic decline in media advertising investments in 2020 and 2021 (-90%) following the financial crisis that hit the country in 2019. All signals were green, heralding a new dynamic year. However, the journey through this tumultuous year proved to be more complex than expected. Naji Boulos, President of the IAA Lebanon Chapter, elaborates.

The first quarter marked one of the most disastrous starts in terms of advertising investments.

The steep depreciation of the Lebanese pound, reaching 140,000 LBP per dollar in March, completely disrupted the markets, putting traders to a tough test. Adding to the challenges were an earthquake and a harsh winter, creating conditions that made consumers even more cautious. It is worth noting that early-year opportunities for brand promotion (sales, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter) are no longer as attractive to advertisers who see diminishing returns on investment.

Fortunately, the situation improved from May-June, reaching its peak in July-August with the arrival of emigrants and tourists. New campaigns, brands, and products stimulated the advertising market. A sign of confidence was the initiation of campaigns by major multinational advertisers (Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, L’Oréal…) – albeit still cautious in outdoor advertising – for the first time in three years. Some banks also launched prudent campaigns to promote payment cards in fresh dollars.

A new setback occurred in October. Just as reservations for the year-end holiday season were in full swing, the war in Gaza and its repercussions in southern Lebanon led to widespread campaign cancellations.

It was a year of confusion with its bright spots and areas of uncertainty.

Ultimately, the year witnessed notable growth in media advertising investments, reaching a total estimated at 34-35 million dollars. This represents a significant increase (+46%) compared to the previous year (24 million dollars), although still well below the prosperous years when these investments peaked at 150 million dollars.

How were these advertising expenses distributed? Which media benefited from this growth?

These questions are addressed through an analysis based on reliable data collected from key players in the advertising market, providing an informed overview of the situation in Lebanon.

TV advertising is growing with a total of 13-14 million dollars in investments, reclaiming its position as the #1 media in Lebanon.

Outdoor advertising is experiencing a sharp decline - political advertising had boosted 2022 - and is valued at 8 million (-33% on average).

Outdoor advertisers will face a challenging year with a drastic increase in rental fees and taxes imposed by municipalities.

Radio advertising and print media stagnate at around 1 million dollars per media type.

It's historic! The share of digital advertising in total investments now represents one-third of the total volume and becomes a dominant media in Lebanon. It recorded a substantial leap, serving as a driving force for the entire sector, with a market evaluated at 10-11 million dollars.

This development, after three years of decline, is explained by several factors: the circulation of payment cards in fresh dollars, the trend of online sales that Lebanese people became accustomed to during the COVID period, the ease of transactions on international platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google…), and maximum efficiency at a lower cost. This sector attracts not only major advertisers but also small businesses, merchants, and influencers.

The only downside, but a significant one, is that these investments benefit large foreign groups (90% of investments) and are not reinvested in the local economy. There is, therefore, a tangible opportunity for local websites to claim their share of the advertising pie by reinventing themselves and offering advertisers more attractive formats.

It is noteworthy that another boost came from the below-the-line sector with the resumption of fairs and cultural events that had already begun at the end of 2022, offering new opportunities for promotion and partnership to advertisers: the e-motor show (electric cars exhibition), Whisky Live, Vinifest, Beirut Books, Royal Wedding Fair, Beirut Cooking Festival, Salon du Chocolat, Horeca…

Despite the still uncertain circumstances, last year witnessed remarkable resilience in the Lebanese advertising sector. The challenges were numerous, but the notable advancements indicate even greater growth potential for the future, fostering an optimistic outlook for the advertising landscape in Lebanon.


“It was a year of confusion with its bright spots and areas of uncertainty.”