Lebanese Companies Embrace Online Advertising

Lebanon’s business community embraced online advertising and other forms of media outreach this past year, growing 29% in 2012 according to a recent survey conducted by the research firm IPSOS-STAT.

The survey, reported by ArabAd magazine, showed that advertising expenditure by Lebanese businesses rose from $174 million in 2011 to $182 million in 2012. In fact, advertising spending rose disproportionately higher than the GDP with a 4.5% growth rate in 2012.

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Specifically, radio advertising grew 11%, television advertising increased 8%, and newspaper and magazine ads grew 5%. The most pronounced change was in online advertising, up 29%; showing the movement of ad choices, billboard spending fell 4.4%.

As for spending, expenditure for television advertising reached $71 million, 39% of total advertising spending; even though billboard spending declined from previous years, it still accounted for 23.6% of spending with $43 million. This was followed by newspaper ads, which contributed 18% of total spending with $33 million. Despite the increase in online advertising, it was just 2.5% of total advertising spending in Lebanon.

This is good news for the business community, which significantly reduced advertising in 2011 when it declined 3%. The change was particularly surprising given the 15% increase in advertising spending in 2010, and was widely attributed to the widespread economic and regional turmoil.

However, the numbers cannot be taken purely at face value. Monitored advertising expenditures were unchanged in 2012, reaching $1.24 billion – the same number for 2011 and 2010. The report indicates that monitored rates are nearly 7 times greater than real spending because of a lack of transparency in the industry, as well as large discounts and bartered deals.

The largest discrepancy is seen in TV ad spending, where the official monitored number is thought to be as much as 13.2 times the real spending amount.

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