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Posts Tagged ‘digital media’

Abu Dhabi Media: Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation Amid the Pandemic


Image Source: Vertigo3d from Getty Images | Canva

While the media played a crucial role in information dissemination during the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry wasn’t spared from the effects of the crisis. According to reports, live events were halted, advertisement spending was reduced, and the print media couldn’t distribute its physical materials due to the readers’ concerns about virus transmission. 

But for the Emirati state-owned Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), the challenges still paved the way for breakthroughs and opportunities. The ADM rolled out a renovation plan that focuses on digitization. It allowed the media institution to minimize the damages of the crisis and take advantage of emerging opportunities. 

Three ADM outlets (Al-Ittihad newspaper, Abu Dhabi TV channel and Abu Dhabi radio station) were established back in 1969, and they were joined by more media platforms and attached to different entities until the ADM–as it exists today–was established in 2007. 

Under Law 13 for that year, the company was established as a joint-stock company with 100m AED in capital worth, initially including nine various platforms. Today, the company has at least 22 traditional and online brands to its name.

In February 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic started to weigh on the country, ADM announced its transition to digital content. While this may seem like a result of the pandemic, the renovation plan has its roots in the company’s 2007 establishing law, which recognizes digital content as an important domain for ADM to pursue. This reflects on digital-first content being one of the value pillars that the company is holding to. Furthermore, the plan was driven by one the organization’s first strategic priority: to maintain financial stability through “efficient finance and resource management and diversified revenue streams.”

Digital transformation has been inevitable for ADM, and the pandemic accelerated it. This is generally true due to the advancement of media technologies and also true in a country that has the highest internet penetration percentage globally. Ninety nine percent of UAE’s population use the internet while only 22% read offline newspapers, according to Northwestern University in Qatar’s Media Use in the Middle East 2019 survey.

The main strategies in ADM’s digitalization plan are:

  • Rebranding to digital: ADM introduced rebranding methods to all of its affiliated channels, stations, newspaper and magazines, to recalibrate their orientation towards the digital horizon.
  • Enhancing digital presence: A part of the rebranding was to remodel all of the affiliated outlet websites to be more dynamic, mainly through taking care of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).
  • Boosting digital content: This enhancement allowed expansion in digital-first content. The veteran Al-Ittihad newspaper started offering audio-visual content, including live streams on social media. The women’s Zahrat Al-Khaleeg magazine started introducing interactive content with extra men-engaging conversations. Meanwhile, Maged’s children magazine had its whole parallel virtual universe established. The digital-based platform Muhtawa also released more than 1,000 videos over the following months.
  • Expanding Video on Demand (VoD): Video content was also available to be watched on demand over the internet. This was offered through the enhanced websites as well as through the bunch of mobile applications that ADM continued to develop. It made sure the applications are available on all mobile operating systems, mainly Android and iOS.
  • Taking advantage of SVoD: ADM took advantage of audience readiness to pay subscriptions for content through some of its mobile applications (like UFC Arabia). It also widened its partnership with STARZPLAY, one of the most famous SVoD platforms in the GCC, to premiere its original productions.
  • Extending through OTT technologies: ADM made sure that more of its content is compatible to consume through technologies like Press Reader and Amazon Alexa as well as fostering its presence on Apple TV and Android TV platforms.
  • Growing library: To meet the accumulating demand due to the increasing audience consumption, ADM added 60 different titles across its platforms.
  • Meeting the growing interest in news: A considerable portion of the new titles was news and information in nature to help the audience make sense of what is going on in the COVID-induced reality.
  • Reducing the cost of print: The company turned its magazines Zahrat Al-Khaleeg and Maged to monthly periodicals. This led to reduced costs and more digital offerings and extensive content.

Towering results

The real test for ADM’s plan came in Ramadan in April and May 2020.  The Islamic holy month is when media outlets across the MENA region, especially TV channels, get surging consumption. This is a pattern that peaks during the curfewed Ramadan.

For that month, ADM reported a 20% increase in Abu Dhabi TV’s viewership rates across the UAE and 90% across the neighboring Saudi Arabia, compared to Ramadan 2019. The company described the figures as “exceptional” percentages. The recently enhanced OTT channels gathered 7.25m views, with 190,000 new downloads for the channel’s mobile application.

Other published results for the longer period following the plan’s launch included a 500% year on year hike in the number of views for Muhtawa digital platform during the first three quarters of the pandemic year and 1,500% increase in the number of its followers.

Key business lessons

Here are the principles that made ADM’s digital transformation journey possible and could be adopted by businesses in any industry.

  1. An open-look strategy: ADM could have struggled more if it didn’t consider digital transformation in its strategic priorities. Anticipating what the future may hold when formulating a business strategy better prepares companies for any event.
  2. Flexibility: Recalibrating one’s systems towards the digital world required a considerable level of flexibility from ADM. This helps businesses build resilience and capability of working around challenges and taking advantage of opportunities.
  3. Agility: ADM took the courageous leap in the early stage of the pandemic when the whole world was still trying to make sense of the disaster. This quick decision making and implementation saves the business a chain of losses and opens breakthroughs for possible gains.
  4. Courage for pioneership: Both flexibility and agility require courage, but ADM also proved a courage for pioneership as they jumped into unfamiliar territories. They created  a parallel virtual universe for a magazine that has lived on paper for decades and betted on SVoD services, which remain rare in the MENA region.  This kind of courage is about accepting that hard questions cannot be met with easy answers.

For more lessons on developing new strategies for your business, check out the Strategy and Business Planning Professional Certification course offered by The KPI Institute.

The Digital Age and Information Disorders: What Makes You Vulnerable?


Image source: Buffik | Pixabay

The internet has become the primary source of information for people around the world. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 53% of US adults rely on social media for news, with 36% depending on Facebook as a regular source. Meanwhile, YouTube comes in second place with 23%, followed by Twitter with 15%.

New social technologies have accelerated information sharing, providing easy access to huge amounts of information. Despite that, internet-based media is also characterized by unregulated information flow and the spread of deceiving, inaccurate, and uncheckable information. 

Inaccurate and deceptive information is often manipulative and used to evoke suspicion, fear, worry, and anger. Misleading information, created with or without intent, is designed to be sensational and provoking with an aim to attract attention and profit off panic and fears. Research shows that false information tends to spread farther and faster; while fake news brings about emotions like fear and disgust, people are inclined to find false news more novel than factual news. 

Misinformation is a widespread problem. However, psychological explanations of information processing can help avoid falling into the trap of misinformation and build mental resilience by embracing a more critical and skeptical approach. It is important because individual and societal wellbeing is related to having an accurate picture of social reality.

Let’s first acknowledge what contributes to the pervasiveness of misinformation on the internet-based media.

The problem with the internet-based media

Digital media has allowed individuals to be active in content production, leading to a wide range of personalities and opinions appearing on online platforms. One of its drawbacks is the absence of assurance regarding content quality and credibility. 

Digital transformation of media platforms has enabled algorithms and automation to govern content recommendation and filtering of information. In other words, not every user on social media receives the same news feed. As such, the algorithmic selection of social media sourced news plays a role in the creation of an echo effect in which users encounter information that resonates with their opinions and beliefs.

The term echo chambers is coined to describe the exposure people have only to opinions that they agree with on social media. This is regardless of being true or false. In turn, their opinions and preferences are being amplified.

Cognitive biases of information processing

The accuracy of information found on social media platforms is often unclear. Additionally, echo chambers limit users’ ability to encounter content that might challenge their opinions. Due to these two factors, the responsibility to evaluate the information’s credibility and make decisions now falls on the user and their conscious efforts to do this task. However, perceived credibility is not free from one’s interpretations and preformed notions. How users select reliable sources of information and evaluate their credibility presents new challenges in internet-based media. 

Cognitive processes are involved in making a judgment while cognitive biases determine what information is accepted or rejected. Cognitive biases and faulty reasoning in processing certain information can influence one’s decision-making. This may make information seekers vulnerable to misinformation. 

Information processing is influenced by one’s preexisting beliefs which connect to confirmation bias as it plays a role in shaping information consumption patterns. Confirmation bias consists of three components: information search, evidence interpretation, and memory recall. These three components are often biased in support of one’s previously held beliefs, expectations, and preferences for information that complies with their attitudes and justifies their opinions.

People unconsciously may engage in biased search processes to seek out information that supports their preconceptions about a certain topic. Biased searching for supportive information may result in poor decision-making. Information that confirms and reinforces users’ preexisting beliefs may be interpreted as being more persuasive. Simply put, confirmation bias means actively seeking confirmatory evidence.

As a result, users may end up outweighing positive confirmatory evidence without questioning the credibility and even refute or ignore evidence if it challenges their beliefs. Confirmation bias may also become salient when people rely on their background knowledge and experiences in information processing. 

Bias blind spot is another form of cognitive bias. It refers to recognizing biases that other people have in their judgments while believing that one is free from their own biases. If you are likely to detect the existence of biases in others more than in yourself, it might be a good idea to do some self-reflection first.


Neither echo chambers nor confirmation bias can be eliminated completely; however, through digital wellbeing skills, their impact can be managed. The use of social media as a source of information presents both benefits and challenges; whether it maximizes or diminishes an individual’s wellbeing benefits depends on the user’s media consumption and online behaviors. Checking one’s own cognitive biases is one way towards enhancing wellbeing. Being aware of confirmation bias and taking steps to perform a critical stance towards one’s preexisting beliefs and preconceptions can be achieved by performing critical thinking and learning how to learn. 

Being conscious consumers of digital media is a way to manage challenges and optimize one’s wellbeing as a result of online behaviors. To better equip an individual from the negative impacts, developing digital wellbeing skills can help in controlling stress resulting from the overwhelming flow of (mis)information and communication overabundance. This is done by efficiently filtering one’s attention to focus on one’s personal goals and wellbeing.


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