"Carat is an independent media planning, buying specialist and the market leader in digital and nontraditional media solutions. The company’s vision is to ‘redefine media and create better client business value through the command of media convergence,” says Martin Boot, General Manager of Carat Qatar and Kuwait. Established in Qatar this year, the organization and its regional headquarters in Dubai have been servicing clients since 2013. According to Boot, there was a need to have an on-ground operation in Qatar to give an enhanced service offering to existing clients, and to capitalize on the growth of opportunities available as a result of the country’s developing economy. “Within the MENA region, Qatar is a market where Carat expects to see continued economic and population growth. With this significant momentum, the country is becoming of increasing interest to advertisers.”
Carat is also part of the Dentsu Aegis Network, and among its services includes digital led communication solutions, media planning and purchasing, and strategic research and insight. “Today, advances in digital technology and changing consumer behaviour have created an era of unprecedented complexity and opportunity for clients. Media is now an ecosystem that includes bought, owned and earned communications.” Boot adds that in this new era, Carat is leading and shaping the industry once again, by using media in new ways to deliver business value to clients. “We specialize in understanding and exploiting every media opportunity there is. We have a track record of creating innovative ideas that work across platforms and deliver real value for our clients.” In the past year, Carat has received a number of awards including a Gold and Silver Effie MENA. “Carat is able to exploit Dentsu Aegis Network’s unique operating model,” continues Boot. “With seven sister agencies specializing in everything from out of home experiential, to programmatic trading to digital creative, Carat has an integrated and holistic approach to media.” He explains how all Out of Home services are handled by sister agency Posterscope, while SEO, SEM and Paid Social are handle by iProspect. All of these agencies operate under one P&L of Dentsu Aegis Network making Carat very different to the competition.
Among the challenges of advertising in Qatar, Boot says that only one supplier runs most mediums, hence causing a monopoly market. In addition, there are also limited media opportunities in the country with placements and locations set to specific areas. “Another challenge is municipality approvals. Any OOH activities or in-mall activations are subject to municipality approval and can be declined. Within such an environment, we need to be versatile and agile when planning media to ensure that we still deliver ROI for our clients despite these challenges.” However, Boot pinpoints that the best way to advertise nowadays is 360- in other words integrated media campaigns are now the only way to advertise as digital becomes more powerful. “As we approach the era of the ‘internet of everything’ where everything and everybody is connected. A new era of media companies is emerging who are providing cost efficient services by connecting available capacity and expertise. As technology, bandwidth and powerful devices drive consumer adoption, the digital economy will become an unstoppable train and advertisers and their agencies must adapt to this change and overhaul their approach to advertising,” explains Boot.
On the other hand, traditional media remains the most popular medium in Qatar. “As with the rest of the GCC, Qatar still relies heavily on traditional offline media when advertising: TV, print, and outdoor. Unlike the rest of the world, digital media in Qatar has not fully developed to take over offline media and is only used as a supplementary tool to reach a wider target audience.” Consequently, television is the most important medium in the region, since it targets beyond local markets, and therefore leading to more exposure. “Qatar’s print market is also a large and important medium. Newspapers in Qatar have a huge impact and make up a huge percentage share of the market and advertising budgets.” Boot adds how outdoor is also in high demand in Qatar as it provides a wide reach to an on-the-go audience and usually has a long lasting impact if creative, catchy and near to point of sale. “The most widely used OOH mediums are Mupis, billboards and scaffoldings which are found on main roads.”
By the same token, advertising is important in general to all consumer driven communications within Doha and the region. “With the continued growth of population and economy in Qatar, businesses have a huge opportunity to reach their consumers through advertising to grow business.” According to Boot, pan-Arab media is the easy way to achieve regional coverage, however, far more effective is to appoint an agency with an on the ground presence, which facilitates local market campaign planning and more effective negotiation. “Carat’s bespoke research tool, Consumer Connection System, can help brands and businesses find the right solution to reach their target audience across the region.”
And where is the Qatari advertising market at the moment? Boot reiterates how the traditional media is undoubtedly an emerging market that is witnessing a steady growth. However, the digital sector is not growing at the same pace when compared to the other markets that have a high penetration of digital media and advertising. “Even though there is high market saturation for digital with youth in the GCC, we expect to see growth rates in Doha improve in the future. Digital and other non-traditional mediums have a more creative, interactive and engaging impact and we look forward to helping educate the Qatari advertising market when it comes to less traditional forms of media,” continues Boot. “However, we still believe newspaper and TV advertising is the best medium to reach out to get a high reach, high exposure but it needs to be combined with digital media.”
Since Qatar won and have now confirmed that they will indeed be hosting the World Cup in 2022, more people are expected to move into Qatar and with this influx, a flurry of projects will be executed in anticipation of the hyped-up market. “With this development, we expect to see a lot of growth in the advertising industry to keep up with the demand,” concludes Boot. And Carat intends to have their operations at the forefront, having gotten their foot in the door early on in the game.