Made in the UAE

Pitching to a captive audience

Elevision Media, winner of the 2014 MasterCard Small Business of the Year at the Gulf Capital SME awards, recognised the potential of in-elevator advertising

If you could provide marketing executives with a captive, attentive audience for 30 to 60 seconds, consisting of every single person who lives, works or visits a tower block in the UAE, you would have a lot of takers.

This proved to be the case for digital out-of-home (DOOH) media network, Elevision Media, a company that provides elevator-based advertising and communication channels. Its impressive 688 per cent growth rate in a single year saw the company named MasterCard Small Business of the Year at the Gulf Capital SME Awards 2014 run in partnership with MEED.

With a current network of over 1,200 screens throughout the UAE and around 260,000 daily viewers, Elevision’s stellar growth looks set to continue.

A perfect market

The concept of in-elevator advertising had already taken off in North America, but it had not yet reached the region in 2010 when company founder and CEO, Niall Sallam decided to launch his business in Dubai.

“With its high concentration of existing towers at the time,” says Sallam,”and a pipeline of many more towers and iconic developments to come, it seemed that this model could have a good chance of success in the UAE.”

Organisations were quick to realise the potential of DOOH marketing. In 2012, Elevision worked with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to roll out their services across the entire district. A further 10-year contract with DIFC was signed in 2018.

The company has also partnered with developers such as Dubai Properties and Emaar, not just to deliver advertising content to residents, but also to provide an effective, paperless communication channel for facility operators.

Proving the model

Sallam says that establishing Elevision as an effective and meaningful media channel took time, and was fraught with challenges. Securing deals with some of the region’s largest companies proved that the model was viable, but winning the Gulf Capital SME Award in 2014 was also a boost for the company founder, and his employees.

“It gave us an unbiased, third-party validation that what we were doing resonated and seemed to make sense,” says Sallam. “It helped to foster a strong company culture and energized our team to keep working hard towards our goals as a business.”

Sallam credits the success of the media channel to its effectiveness, but also to the hard work and patience of his team.

“Success takes time, a lot of it. In the day to day, you need to obsessively treat every project, task and timeline with urgency,” says the entrepreneur. “But overall, you need to be aggressively patient and understand that the big meaningful changes and successes in business take time.”

Many SMEs faced cashflow challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on marketing budgets was considerable. As a show of support to the SME community, Elevision Media launched an initiative in conjuction with community partners to provide $1,000,000 in free advertising to help market and promote small businesses in the UAE.

“Elevision Media is a fantastic example of identifying an exciting business opportunity, and then being able to quickly harness the new technology to turn the opportunity into a realty,” says  Dr Karim El-Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, one of the leading alternative investment firms in the Middle East and headline sponsor of the awards.

“It’s commitment to supporting other small businesses and startups in the UAE reflects an ambition that goes beyond just running a business.”

On 24 November 2021, the Gulf Capital SME AWARDS 2021 in partnership with MEED will recognise and celebrate the best small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE. The programme has attracted 1,922 total entries from 1,209 participating companies​, and has recognised 553 finalists​ and 350 winners​ across 17 categories​ with one unifying purpose – to accelerate and enable innovation in the economy’s most vital sector.