Lovin Saudi launches in the Middle East

New media advertising company, Augustus has launched Lovin Saudi as a part of its expansion plan in the region. Following the launch of its Dubai operations in 2015, Lovin Saudi will operate with local partners and contributors based out of Saudi Arabia with support and back office functions being completed from the group’s regional headquarters in Dubai. The launch will also cover news and lifestyle in Dammam, Khobar, Riyadh and Jeddah as the main cities with content published in English, and officially open its first Saudi-Arabian based office early 2018.

“By understanding and keeping abreast of the ever-changing media landscape, Augustus has cemented Lovin Dubai’s place within the UAE market in what is a short space of time,” says Richard Fitzgerald, Managing Director, Augustus. ”This was done by focusing on quality online and social content. With the launch of Lovin Saudi, the brand will look to do the same in Saudi Arabia, shaking things up and further driving a digital approach within the region.”

Lovin Dubai makes structural changes

Online guide, Lovin Dubai, has made structural changes to its team following its expansion in the UAE. Caitlyn Davey will take on the role of Editor having recently held the position of Deputy Editor at Lovin Dubai. In her new role she will oversee the editorial content and the Lovin brand within Dubai as well as the brand’s expansion into Saudi Arabia in September, 2017.

Casey Fitzgerald who previously worked as a freelance Contributing Writer at Lovin Dubai will now join the team full-time as Deputy Editor and work closely alongside the existing team to help develop the editorial aspect of the site.

Lovin Dubai aims to be the definite inside track for people here, with Caitlyn stepping up to the Editor position and the arrival of Casey full-time, I am confident that we have the strongest possible editorial team to continue the growth of the platform,”says Richard Fitzgerald, Managing Director, We Are Augustus.

In The Hot Seat – Richard Fitzgerald

Richard Fitzgerald, Managing Director and Founder of Augustus tells us about his current role and his views on the ever-changing media industry… 

Name: Richard Fitzgerald

Age: 33

Current job title: Managing Director and Founder of Augustus

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

June 2, 2012

Where did you work prior?

I was Regional Social Media Director at Mindshare MENA until 2015 and then I had one year at Brndstr, a creative technology start up.

What were your first impressions of the publishing and media industry in the Middle East?

I was impressed with the pan Arab scale of TV and surprised with how much was spent on print versus actual media consumption. I was excited by how digital was being consumed and the appetite for social media all-round. Also, although it took some time to get used to doing business in a new region, and with different nationalities, it was clear from the start that I had entered an established and growing industry. It wasn’t the dark ages.

Has your opinion changed much?

Seeing how much the industry has changed in the past five years makes it a very exciting place to be for the next five. Although I know more about the industry, my impression is similar, I think the same forces that were keeping print so established are at play for TV now.

Tell us about your current role…

Augustus is a ‘new media’ company, one I have created without a template. It’s a hybrid between a publisher and an agency, designed for the ‘always on’ social media word. My role at times is like running three businesses − media, data and content: Editor of Lovin Dubai (the media side), sales for Brandwatch, a social media listening software (the data side) and Social Media Director for some of our clients such as INFINITI and Lavazza Middle East (the content side).

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

We are telling the story of a changing country, a changing region, and we are doing it in a changing industry. It’s super exciting to be part living and working in this region, and also to be in the digital media industry.

Also, when we sit down at the end of the month and see that the company grows bit by bit, it gives us a sense of achievement.

With the on-going battle between digital and print media, who are you betting on and why?

Haha, well my money has actually gone into a bet on a digital only company. In terms of a winner, I wouldn’t celebrate or cheer for one of the other. Print media will continue to play a role, whether it’s books, magazines or newspapers, no one would like to see print media abolished. I think a lot of the pain points come from the digital transformation of traditional media companies, so it’s a lot easier if you are digital only.

What is your opinion on native advertising?

The way we see native advertising is one of three things − 1. Native display, 2. Sponsored content, 3. Sponsored social.

The Lovin Dubai platform allows for sponsored content on the website, that would be labelled as such, and also on Facebook, where we tag all sponsored content with the Facebook branded content handshake.

Advertising is effective if it reaches people. For me, native is the best way to do this, because it’s the best mobile format available, and that is where most media is being consumed at the moment. Whether it’s more effective than other methods or mediums, often depends on the execution. We have seen very effective native advertising and not so effective.

What are your thoughts on the pricing of print advertising, digital advertising and sponsored content? Is this bound to change in the near future?

It’s difficult to compare price points across mediums as you are usually paying for the audience and the format.

I do however believe the sponsored content and native advertising will be valued higher in the future. Branded content is very expensive in the US and UK, as compared to the MENA region. That will change when established brands enter the market and educate the industry on this form of advertising. We are starting to see that with VICE coming to the region, and I expect Buzzfeed will enter within the next 18 months, especially that they have an IPO on the horizon.

What are the steps that you’ve taken to grow Lovin Dubai, from when it just launched to the established name that it’s now?

We had a good start in September 2015 with the support of the Lovin Group from a tech point of view. From then on, we have relentlessly tried to capture what’s happening in Dubai on our platforms. Growing the team with key individuals has been important and so has ‘graduating’ from our Astrolabs co-working space in JLT to our own office. The acquisition of 7DAYS social media profiles certainly helped with our brand awareness.

What advise would you give PRs and marketers of the region? Do you think they’re lagging when it comes to coping with digitalisation?

I’ve been much more exposed to the PR industry at Lovin Dubai as I was within a media agency, and I’ve been impressed at how established the PR industry is. I’ve noticed that it’s much more like London PR, that I was previously exposed to. In terms of lagging behind, I wouldn’t say so, it’s like any business − if it wasn’t established initially as a digital only PR agency, there is going to be some repositioning, both internal and external, required. I’m sure that’s the case for PR agencies in any market, just as it is for any other type of agency in this region.

What is your PR pet peeve?

I think it’s probably seeing it from our point of view. With a small team, the opportunity cost of attending a single event is probably three to four articles on the site, that really helps capture what we are trying to achieve and give the readers something of interest.

I’ve always worked with clients, and usually when doing client service for social media, the exchange is clear, you both know what the end goal is. However, giving coverage in a traditional way may actually harm our product. We love working with PR agencies that understand the Lovin Dubai platform and what readers like, whether it is lists, unique stories about their clients or strong visual content.

What is your preferred social media platform?

Twitter. I’ve always liked it and think that it gets a bad rep. I don’t think it’s the best however, but I like supporting the underdogs.

Facebook is easily the most sophisticated platform we have seen built on the internet. It’s such an advanced and strong platform, that it’s very hard to see a media world without it.

How do you and the team at Lovin Dubai always stay on top of things?

In two ways − we have a key focus on discovering relevant content that captures what’s happening. We also have shift work, whereby the editorial teams work at different times throughout the week to cover every waking hour in Dubai.

Describe yourself in three words…

I’m going to have to use the Augustus brand values, which are; Tenacity, Ingenuity, and Velocity. So that would be tenacious, genius and fast.

What is your most overused saying?

Hmm… I’ve caught myself saying ‘the reason is’ a fair bit lately.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

I would probably be working within advertising in a role related to social media.

In The Hot Seat – Caitlyn Davey

Team TMN catch up with Caitlyn Davey, Deputy Editor at Lovin Dubai, who talks about her new role and what she thinks of the media industry in the Middle East…

Name: Caitlyn Davey

Age: 28

From: Australia

Current job title: Deputy Editor, Lovin Dubai

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

I worked in Abu Dhabi from February 2013, then got a job with 7DAYS in September 2014 after which, I moved to Dubai in January 2015.

Where did you work prior?

I was working part-time in Brisbane media for a community radio station as well as freelance.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?

I didn’t know a lot about the local media. I was familiar with a few publications, but came over to stay with my mum so she introduced me to a lot of it.

Has your opinion changed much?

I’ve learnt a lot about the country and the media landscape – it’s an interesting time to be in media in the UAE as it changes and shifts towards digital. I don’t think my opinion has changed, so much as I have learnt more.

Tell us about your current role…

I’m the Deputy Editor at Lovin Dubai, which means I’m responsible for the editorial content on the site. It’s a digital product so I spend my days hunting down stories, writing them up quickly and working with our commercial team. I also work on the social media, running competitions, engaging with our followers and finding new ways to present information.

What challenges do you face?

Time is our biggest battle, we’re a small team and are producing a huge amount of content so it’s always a race against the clock to get enough well-written coverage. As a new brand, we’re growing rapidly and working to expand on our brand awareness.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping community initiatives have a voice is really enjoyable. I love hearing from our readers too – whether that’s through social media or personally. Our site gets a lot of feedback and it’s always exciting to know people are reading and engaging with our content.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Email, always email!

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?

I think there are some excellent publications here that produce quality content. I would like to see more quality digital products, but I think that’s happening now.

Is traditional media still relevant in the UAE today?

Absolutely, I have worked in traditional media prior to my current job and it’s a fundamental part of life here. Revenue still comes from print advertising to a large degree and while that is shifting, it’s still a part of the makeup of a lot of companies. Plus I think there’s something so luxurious about the aesthetics of a piece of paper in your hand – it’s the same with books.

Describe yourself in five words…

Passionate, hilarious, enthusiastic, creative and loud

What’s your most overused saying?

That’s amazing…

What’s the most exciting thing that has happen to you in your career?

It sounds corny, but getting the job at 7DAYS was one of the best things to ever happen to me, it opened so many doors. And because of that job – I inadvertently signed up for a boxing reality TV show for a story and ended up on the show, and in a boxing ring. Also, meeting Michael Buble was a highlight.

Five things you can’t live without?

Bottle of water, phone, laptop, my Converse shoes, a pen… and paper.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

Something where I don’t have to sit down too long – I’m happiest outside, moving around and talking to people.

What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?

TV and video will always have a special place in my heart. I love that it has both visual and audio components and when it’s lifestyle content, I get to inject a bit of my own personality into the mix. In saying that, writing is always an important part of the equation because whether it’s TV, digital, radio or anything, there’s still an element of writing to it.

How do you see the media industry changing in the UAE in the coming years?

More digital presence from the existing brands, and more apps. I think with sites like Lovin Dubai leading the way, we will get more fast-paced products aiming to share information more rapidly. I’d also expect to see more online video and TV channels establishing themselves in the UAE as news providers.

New Deputy Editor at Lovin Dubai

Caitlyn Davey joins online guide, Lovin Dubai as Deputy Editor. Previously Features Journalist at weekly newspaper, 7DAYS UAE, Caitlyn will now manage all editorial content on Lovin Dubai’s page. In her new role, she will be responsible for content creation for breaking news and features as well as work with digital clients to boost multimedia presence of the brand through social media.

Lovin Dubai is growing rapidly and I’m particularly excited to be working as Deputy Editor – to continue on the 7DAYS legacy of social media, as well as grow and learn from the Augustus team in the digital sphere,” says Caitlyn

Lovin Dubai expands social media reach

Augustus, a newly launched media agency and the holding company of online guide, Lovin Dubai, has merged all its social media channels with 7DAYS UAE. Following the closure of the weekly newspaper in December 2016, Augustus has purchased the social media handles for 7DAYS UAE, which has accumulated a massive social media following across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook over the years.

“Social media plays a crucial role in how media is consumed today,” says Richard Fitzgerald, Editor, Lovin Dubai. “We are delighted to take on the profiles of 7DAYS UAE both regarding assuming a broad audience that now has a gap in their daily newsfeed and accepting the responsibilities that go along with it. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to continue the legacy of 7DAYS in a small way.”

Mark Rix, CEO, 7DAYS UAE adds, “Over the last few years, we have built a large and highly engaged audience across our social media platforms due to the high quality and unique nature of our content. We believe that Lovin Dubai will continue to inform and entertain our readers in the same spirit.”

Augustus launches in Dubai

New media advertising company Augustus, has launched in Dubai. Located in JLT, based out of Google Astrolabs, Augustus was Founded by Richard FitzGerald and is supported by a board of advisors including Zee Kane, former CEO of The Next Web and Helen Al Uzaizi, Founder of child entrepreneur program,

Augustus focuses on providing brands and agencies with services including; social media training, community management and strategy. The company also manages and operates publishing brand, Lovin Dubai and is the regional representative for Snaplytics, as well as other media software in the region.

“Augustus is a fusion between an agency and a media publisher, designed for new media,” says Richard FitzGerald, Managing Director, Augustus. “We decided to look at media consumption today and while many social platforms, tech companies and even publishing brands are being created to cater to the different ways people consume media, there aren’t many marketing companies created to provide services for these new mediums.”