Ari Kesisoglu, Managing Director of Google’s operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, discusses how online video is becoming more social, and the products Google is developing specifically for the Arab market.
What can be expected from the convergence of Connected and Linear TV?
Connected TV, which is made possible through the internet, has changed the way people watch television forever. People no longer need to watch a programme just because it’s on.
Viewers now expect to watch what they want, when they want, on whatever device they are using. Needless to say, linear TV is here to stay, however, companies with a forward-looking outlook are shifting their strategies to accommodate the shift in trends.
We have seen this happen recently in MENA when more than 50 Ramadan premium shows (peak TV viewership) were made available on a dedicated Ramadan hub on YouTube (YouTube.com/Ramadan).
What do you believe are the most significant current and future trends in online video?
We see online video becoming increasingly more social. Now more than ever users share, comment, post videos and that triggers virtual conversations and user engagement.
Production of local content is also on the rise. We have seen a huge plunge of local content on YouTube for example in countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and expect to see even more of that across the MENA region.
We also expect to see more premium content owners coming online and sharing exclusive content like behind the scenes, extra scenes, and live feeds through YouTube.
How is online becoming a destination of premium content?
The Internet is fundamental to the future of premium content for one simple reason: because it’s what people want. It give users more choice which is a good thing.
In the MENA region there are 167 million video views a day, putting the region in the second spot in the world, only after the US.
Many premium content creators and owners see this as a huge opportunity. By integrating TV and online they ensure they are where the viewers are searching for them.
What role does Google plan to play here in the MENA region?
Google is serious about the MENA region: we have been investing in many different ways and will continue to do so. We have doubled our workforce in the region with offices in the UAE and Egypt.
We are keen on driving the Arabization of the Internet through many different ways, such as launching many products in Arabic, including Voice Search, Driving directions for Maps, and Arabic interface of Google+.
Also we have reached out to nearly 12,000 entrepreneurs and developers through g|days (launched in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, UAE & Jordan) as part of our outreach programmes.