Advertising budgets tend to mirror shifts in consumer behavior. Our readers would be aware of how the digital ad spend is already higher than traditional channels in the UAE. And as consumers increasingly turn to digital channels, it’s only natural that advertising dollars would follow suit.  

However, Digital ad spending needs to adapt to match changes in consumer behavior and digital dwell time across channels. In line with this trend, In-app advertising has emerged as a prominent strategy for capturing user attention effectively.  

The evolution of Advertising is moving towards In-App 

Advertisements have evolved significantly across channels and formats over time. Initially limited to traditional mediums, they now encompass digital platforms such as social media and mobile apps. Formats have diversified from static images to interactive videos and augmented reality experiences.  

In-app advertising has gained prominence for capturing user attention effectively, reflecting the increasing importance of mobile engagement. 

Historically, the USA has been an indicator for tracking how ad spending evolves. What’s happening there? 

In-app advertising is gaining ground in the USA, as evidenced by Amazon’s substantial $39 billion advertising revenue. Its prominence among top advertising platforms hints at a promising future for in-app advertisements. 

…In-app advertising revenues have grown faster than the market in 2023

In-app advertising is gaining momentum, exemplified by Walmart’s $4 billion advertising revenue, marking a 25% surge compared to 2022. Additionally, platforms like Instacart, Netflix, and Spotify are witnessing notable increases in ad revenues. This trend underscores the strategic importance of in-app advertising, as brands aim to connect with audiences where they spend most of their time. 

Ad dollars follow consumer dwell time. Where are MENA shoppers spending their time? 

For in-app advertising to kick it, we need scaled-up apps. Do we have them in the region? 

 With users spending a significant amount of time on the top digital media apps in the UAE, there’s significant potential for retailers. Top applications like noon and Namshi in UAE alone offer retailers an addressable opportunity of $1-1.5 Bn. 

It seems like in-app advertising could take off in the MENA region. What’s the catch for advertisers?

Community-Driven Niche Marketing Opportunity: In-app advertising empowers advertisers with the ability to hyperlocally target their ads. SMEs like local shops or bakalas can cash in on this by reaching out to their niche communities. It’s like micro-community advertising, where businesses can connect with customers right where they’re at. 

Competitive pricing & Better ROIs: Generally for emerging platforms, the cost of advertising is low. This naturally translates to better ROIs. With the plateauing effectiveness of traditional giants, advertisers have an opportunity with newer avenues with promising returns. 


  • Sandeep is the Partner of Redseer Strategy Consultants looking at the Middle East and Africa. He has 13+ years of experience in consulting and technology.