Middle East Advertising Market Insight in Q1 of 2021

6 min readMay 10, 2021


Although the advertising market in the Middle East in Q1 of 2021 has shrunk slightly, compared with the previous quarter, strong advertising among top advertisers, such as Playrix and Smart Project GMBH, still can be seen. In terms of segmented categories, the gap in the proportion of top-advertising buyers has narrowed, and the overall advertising structure tends to be optimized. The advertising in Strategy games has risen, joining the top-advertising gaming list in the Middle East with Puzzle, Casual, and Role-playing games. As for non-gaming applications, the fierce competition for Chinese overseas shopping applications in the Middle East market has led to a surge in shopping advertising in Q1. As the population and market dividends in the region continue to be explored, Chinese publishers have also accelerated their business layout process.

1:The Overall Advertising Trend in the Middle East Market

In terms of the number of Apps with advertisement, there are slightly differences between Q1 and Q4, with both game sections accounting for more than half of the total, about 56%. In terms of the overall ads proportion, the proportion of non-gaming application category, influenced by the advertising advantage of the top buyers, exceeds the game categories. Moreover, in Q1, the proportion gap is further widened, and the proportion of non-gaming application advertising reached 61.06%, with an increase of 7%.

In terms of the advertising distribution of segmented games, Puzzle, Casual and Role-playing games are the main tracks, taking up approximately 15%, 14% and 14% respectively in Q1, and small quarterly changes can be seen. It is worth mentioning that Strategy games account for 15% in Q1 and enjoy an increase of about 5%, making itself the Top1 advertising section in the Middle East market. The SLG games drop by about 3%, and account for 9% in Q1 advertising.

In terms of non-gaming applications, the advertising has changed greatly. Books and Reference application falls by about 10%, and the proportion in Q1 shrinks to 12%. Shopping application increases by 9%, accounting for 12% of the total. Lifestyle and Utilities application both increase by about 4%, accounting for about 12% and 10% respectively. The proportions of Photo and Video, Music, and Health and Fitness applications in mid-range have also declined to varying degrees.

2:Top-advertising Gaming Apps & Strategies on Creative Advertising

2–1 Top-advertising Gaming Application List

Casual and Puzzle mobile games performed well in both quarters. Homescapes, Gardenscapes, Township and Fishdom, four Match-3 games from Playrix, an experienced publisher in Casual games, continue to be in the Middle East Top 20 gaming list for two consecutive quarters, making its publisher the unquestionable advertising giant in the region.

In Q1, in addition to the Casual and Puzzle tracks, Strategy games are also one of the hottest categories. For instance, strong advertising can be seen in War Commander: Rogue Assault, published by KIXEYE, Mafia City from Yotta Games, Evony: The King’s Return, and Nida Harb 3.

Chinese publishers also occupy a certain share in the Middle East top-advertising market. The list has seen 5 Chinese publishers in both quarters: YottaGame, Betta Games, Magic Tavern, X-Land and Eyugame.

2–2 Top-advertising Gaming Creatives

2.2.1《War Commander: Rogue Assault》

War Commander is a RTS war theme mobile game. The gameplay is traditional and mainly focus on PVP and PVE. Players are able to collect resources, establish building defense and participate in war confrontation. War Commander, as a global online game, has a certain amount of advertising in Europe, America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Facebook, Instagram, Facebook (FAN) and Messenger are its main advertising channels.

Creative: a fierce war is showed in the Middle East to attract more game players in the region

2.2.2《Nida Harb 3》

Nida Harb 3 is another SLG game work published by Babil Games after its well-reputed predecessor Nida Harb 2. The game is mainly designed for the Middle East and North Africa, namely Arab countries, and it has long maintained the top10 in the Google Play’s strategy game list in Middle East. The advertising distribution of Nida Harb 3 is relatively even, also with a certain share in the Middle East, Europe, America, and Southeast Asian countries. Facebook, Instagram, Facebook (FAN) and Messenger are its main advertising channels.

Creative: Advertisements take full advantage of local cultural elements, such as the Middle Eastern string music BGM, Ramadan lanterns and copies that emphasize the national identity.

3:Top-advertising Non-gaming Apps & Strategies on Creative Advertising

3–1 Top-advertising Non-gaming App List

In the Middle East Top-advertising Application list, the two major categories of Entertainment and Book & Reference applications have gained much popularity in both quarters, justified by the strong and stable advertising in former’s One Music, Viu, Glow Music, Bingo Music for two consecutive quarters and the similar performance of the latter in Аудиокниги от Patephone, Radish Fiction & Chat Stories and Dreame.

The number of shopping apps on the Q1 list has rebounded significantly. Chinese overseas shopping apps are the main force, Such as Jollychic, Alibaba.com and FORDEAL’s two e-commerce apps Fordeal and AlMart that are deeply involved in the Middle East market.

3–2 Top-advertising App Creative


Fordeal, an emerging e-commerce platform that is deeply involved the Middle East market, has continued to develop in recent years. According to the official report, Fordeal has accumulated more than 10 million registered users, and its annual sales have exceeded the threshold of one billion yuan, making itself the second dark horse, after Jollychic in the Middle Eastern e-commerce market. It also cracks into the top 10 in App Annie’ Chinese cross-border e-commerce downloads rankings in 2019. Fordeal’s advertisements are mainly shown as pictures and video In-feed Ads. In the middle of localization strategy, the advertisements show more types of products, discount and price advantages.

Creative: mainly shows the discounts on its own platform.

4:Creative Recommendations for the Middle East Market

1. Users in the Middle East have strong social needs and are relatively young. So, some social elements can be appropriately added to the creatives.

2. Since users in the Middle East have a strong sense of identity with local culture, cultural restoration are also highly acquired. Some images with local cultural symbols are a good option, such as crescent moon, Ramadan lanterns, mosques, Arabic teapots, etc.

3. The Middle East, especially the Arab countries, attaches great importance to national consciousness and grouping. And this can be highlighted in creative copies.

4. Local religious and cultural taboos should be considered. For example, in Muslim areas, alcohol, pigs, crosses and other elements are not allowed, and women need to cover their faces.

5. Green is the most popular color among Middle Eastern people, followed by white, grey, and gold, while 5 and 7 are the favorite numbers of locals, representing auspiciousness and reunion respectively.

6. In the Middle East, except for Turkey, Iran, and Israel, the official languages of other countries are Arabic. The language localization in creatives and games is a basic and important means to distinguish from other products and thus attract users. The text should be arranged from right to left.

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