On the Rise in Ramadan: YouTube Viewing in Saudi Arabia

February 2018

Last month, we shared with you the importance of having a smoothly running, mobile-friendly website during Ramadan, the busiest ad season of the year. This time, we shine a spotlight on the power of video and a clearly defined content strategy to reach your audience when they are most engaged online: during Ramadan.

YouTube is big in MENA, with 56% of Saudi consumers using it daily according to 2017’s Connected Consumer Survey1.

But can it get even bigger? According to recent research, the answer is yes. YouTube viewing is on the rise in Ramadan, offering flexibility and unique entertainment in the busiest period of the year. This adds up to good news for brands, since an increase in time spent on YouTube represents more opportunities to engage with audiences.

During Ramadan, the days seem fuller and people feel busier than usual, with less time at hand. Instead they’ve got multiple commitments, such as visiting relatives, receiving guests, shopping, spending time with family and friends, praying and reconnecting with their faith.

With all of these obligations, it seems that consumers may be struggling to fit their schedules around traditional linear TV viewing. For example, in Saudi in 2016, viewership pre-Ramadan versus during Ramadan decreased on TV by 7% and increased on YouTube by 13%2

YouTube is all about context and personal freedom

YouTube puts the power to select content and scheduling in the hands of the user. According to Ipsos and Google data, TV viewership is Saudi is centralized around the five hours around Iftar, while YouTube viewership is present throughout the entire day.

YouTube offers more engaging and immersive viewing

During the commitment-filled Ramadan period, many YouTube viewers quietly catch up at the start and end of their busy day. Because of this, YouTube is the place to reach an attentive audience. YouTube viewers enjoy watching in peace, often focusing on the content by going into their bedroom or office, closing the door and putting on headphones. With YouTube allowing for an immersive experience, viewers remain engaged and attentive while watching content.

In contrast, TV watching tends to be a communal, noisy and distracting experience, with the abundance of TV ads further reducing attention. During Ramadan, clutter is evident on TV, leading to a diminished share of voice. In Saudi in 2016, the increased competition for ad spots on TV led to 49% longer ad breaks and 31% longer ads than in the per-Ramadan period3

YouTube offers a superior user experience by comparison, with YouTube ads showing even higher recall in Ramadan than in other periods. A recent survey found that YouTube advertising is recognized for quality and uniqueness, and – compared to linear broadcast – YouTube ads form a positive part of the viewing experience. Consumers revealed they find YouTube ads less disruptive, shorter, less repetitive and – because they’re skippable – less intrusive.

Content is key to attention

YouTube’s diverse offering draws in users, with survey respondents indicating that YouTube is more versatile than TV when it comes to the wide variety of music, cooking, religious, sports, technology and documentary content that’s available.

With this immense range of content, YouTube serves users looking to satisfy a uniquely varied set of needs, from getting gift ideas or taking a break to keeping you going while fasting. The richness of the content offering also means that advertisers looking to connect with consumers face an exceptional opportunity during Ramadan to find and reach the engaged audiences that matter to your brand.


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