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The Role of Traditional Media in Middle Eastern Marketing


In the ever-evolving marketing world, traditional media remains a formidable force in the Middle East. Despite the surge of digital platforms, TV, radio, and print continue to wield significant influence, shaping public opinion and consumer behaviour. In this article, we’ll delve into the power of traditional media, its role in the Middle Eastern market, and how it complements digital marketing strategies.

 Source: FastCompany Middle East

Overview of Traditional Media in the Middle East

Definition and Importance

Traditional media encompasses television, radio, and print. These channels have long been the backbone of marketing, providing widespread reach and a trusted source of information. In the Middle East, traditional media is crucial in reaching diverse audiences, from urban centres to remote areas.

Historical Context

The history of traditional media in the Middle East is rich and varied. Television became a household staple in the 1960s, with radio and print having established their presence even earlier. These mediums have evolved over decades, adapting to social, political, and technological changes.

Current Status

Today, traditional media maintains a strong presence in the Middle Eastern market. Major TV networks, popular radio stations, and widely read newspapers and magazines continue to attract substantial audiences, making them invaluable tools for marketers.

The Impact of Television and Radio

Reach and Influence

Television and radio boast an unparalleled reach in the Middle East. TV’s visual and auditory appeal and radio’s accessibility make them powerful mediums for storytelling and advertising. According to the Media Use in the Middle East, 87% of households in the region have access to satellite TV, providing extensive coverage. Additionally, a study by Arab Advisors Group in 2023 found that 65% of the population in the GCC countries regularly listen to the radio.

Cultural Significance and Accessibility

Television and radio play crucial roles in preserving and promoting cultural heritage. TV broadcasts a mix of news, entertainment, and educational content, while radio offers real-time information and entertainment, especially in rural and remote areas where internet access may be limited. These mediums foster a sense of identity and continuity by broadcasting local music, traditional stories, and important community announcements.

Popular Channels, Programs, and Stations

Channels like MBC, Al Jazeera, and Dubai TV are household names, offering a mix of content that attracts millions of viewers. For example, MBC’s viewership reached over 160 million people in 2023. Similarly, popular radio stations across the region have loyal audiences tuning in daily for news, music, and talk shows.

Case Studies

One notable example is Pepsi’s Ramadan campaign in 2023. During Ramadan, Pepsi aired a series of commercials focusing on family and togetherness, which aired across major TV networks in the region. According to a recent report by Ipsos, this campaign led to a 20% increase in brand recall and a 15% rise in sales during the holy month (source).

Another successful campaign is the “Mobily” campaign by the Saudi telecom company. The campaign used catchy jingles and frequent airplay on radio to promote its services. According to a study by Nielsen, the campaign resulted in a 22% increase in brand awareness and an 18% increase in new customer acquisitions.

Print Media’s Enduring Presence

Newspapers and Magazines

Despite the digital revolution, newspapers and magazines continue to be trusted sources of information. Publications like Asharq Al-Awsat and Gulf News provide in-depth analysis and coverage, catering to a discerning readership. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) reported that print circulation in the Middle East saw a slight increase in 2022, contrary to global trends.

Source: BBC UK

Trust and Credibility

Print media is often perceived as more credible and trustworthy than digital sources. This credibility makes print advertising particularly effective for industries like finance and healthcare.

Case Studies

The “Dubai Shopping Festival” has consistently leveraged print media to reach a broad audience. According to a report by Visit Dubai, print advertisements in leading newspapers and magazines contributed to a 25% increase in visitor numbers during the festival, generating significant economic impact (source).

Challenges Faced by Traditional Media

Competition with Digital Media

The rise of digital media poses significant challenges to traditional media. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram offer advertisers targeted reach and measurable results, often at a lower cost. eMarketer estimates that digital ad spending in the Middle East will surpass $1.2 billion by 2024, highlighting the shift towards online platforms.

Changing Audience Preferences

Younger generations are increasingly turning to digital channels for news and entertainment. This shift necessitates traditional media outlets to innovate and adapt to retain their audience.

Economic Factors

Economic pressures, such as declining advertising revenues and rising operational costs, also impact traditional media. This financial strain requires media companies to diversify their revenue streams and optimize their operations.

Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing

Synergy Between Channels

Traditional and digital media can complement each other, creating a holistic marketing strategy. TV and radio can drive awareness, while digital channels can engage and convert customers.

Cross-Platform Strategies

Effective integration involves using consistent messaging across platforms. For instance, a TV campaign can be reinforced through social media ads and online content, ensuring a cohesive brand narrative.

Source: TechFunnel


Campaign Overview

Spotify’s “Wrapped” campaign is a prime example of an effective cross-platform marketing strategy. Annually, Spotify provides users with personalized year-in-review data showcasing their most-streamed songs, artists, and genres. This personalized data-driven approach engages users and encourages them to share their statistics on social media.

Key Components

  1. Personalized User Data: Users receive unique summaries of their listening habits over the past year, including top songs, artists, genres, and total listening time.
  2. Traditional Media Integration: Spotify promotes the Wrapped campaign through traditional channels like billboards and TV commercials, emphasizing general trends and encouraging users to check their personalized summaries.
  3. Digital and Social Media Integration: The campaign leverages digital platforms by providing shareable graphics that users post on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, significantly amplifying the campaign’s reach.
  4. Interactive and Engaging Content: In addition to static graphics, Spotify offers interactive features like quizzes and badges, increasing user engagement and time spent on the platform.

Campaign Results

  • Increased Engagement: The Wrapped campaign significantly boosts user engagement each year. In 2020, the campaign saw millions of shares across social media platforms, trending globally on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Social Media Metrics: From 2020 to 2021, there was a 461% increase in tweets about Spotify Wrapped. In just three days, Spotify Wrapped generated 425 million tweets in 2022, reflecting its extensive user engagement.
  • Brand Loyalty and User Retention: The campaign has built strong brand loyalty, with users eagerly anticipating their yearly Wrapped summary, which keeps them engaged with the platform year-round.


Future of Traditional Media in Middle Eastern Marketing


While digital media will continue to grow, traditional media is unlikely to disappear. Instead, we can expect a hybrid model where traditional and digital channels coexist and complement each other. PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook predicts that traditional media will still account for 40% of total ad spend in the Middle East by 2025.

Innovations and Adaptations

Traditional media is embracing digital innovations, such as streaming services and online editions of newspapers. These adaptations help reach tech-savvy audiences while maintaining traditional strengths.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, traditional media remains a cornerstone of marketing in the Middle East. Its reach, credibility, and cultural significance make it an invaluable tool for marketers. By integrating traditional and digital strategies, businesses can maximize their impact and stay ahead in the dynamic Middle Eastern market.


Q1: Why is traditional media still important in the Middle East?
A1: Traditional media continues to reach a wide and diverse audience, offering trusted and culturally significant content.

Q2: How does TV advertising differ from radio advertising in the Middle East?
A2: TV advertising leverages visual storytelling and broad reach, while radio advertising is highly accessible and effective in engaging local communities.

Q3: What are some examples of successful print media campaigns in the region?
A3: The Dubai Shopping Festival’s extensive print coverage and Coca-Cola’s Ramadan campaign are notable examples of successful print media strategies

Khaled Fares

Khaled enjoys strong experience in traditional and online marketing, bringing a 360 view of the marketing communications spectrum. Prior to joining Muse, Khaled assumed Marketing, Digital Marketing, and Project management roles in local and regional organizations specialized in the fields of, health, finance, and business. Khaled has previously worked at Qatar Financial Centre, as a Digital Marketing Specialist. Khaled also graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in Information systems, and a minor in Business Administration.


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