At the moment, there are over 100 million people online. The MENA region, compared to other emerging markets, still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of connecting the masses, but in recent years has seen big advancements in this area.
I recently sat down with Ari Kesisoglu, Managing Director for the MENA region at Google, who seemed very optimistic about the future of online advertising in the region. He points to the rapid wave of digitisation sweeping the region, as well as the embracing of social media, as catalysts of growth on the online front.
He highlights the fact that a large number of people use the Web to do things more efficiently, whether it be purely business or networking through social media. In terms of search, there is no question of the value of an online presence from an advertising perspective.
“As there is more info available online, there will be more interest for users.You have more people and more content, and more of an online economy that starts to grow. There are a couple of big e-Commerce players significantly growing in the region and a large number of SMEs flourishing on the online front, as this countinues, the companies that are working online, will benefit,” says Ari.
For SMEs, this is even more important, as many are virtually unknown to begin with.
“The benefits of online advertising is that a SME can achieve more sales in a more efficient way. Online advertising is a lot more targeted than other advertising platforms,” says Ari. This can be done through keywords via Google Adwords, where SMEs have the option to pay-per-click, and suggests a bidding price for each individual click. The bids are entered into the system and the algorithm automatically generates a price for that keyword, based on all of the bids submitted. Advertisers are then ranked by the relevance of their business to the ad. This represents “a big opportunity” for smaller businesses on tight budgets who are looking for more customisable options.
Google recently announced its partnership with Waseet, an SME-focused classified brand that will help the search giant reach thousands of SMEs in the MENA region and educate them on the latest ad technologies available. Waseet currently claims 10,000 clients on a weekly basis.
In addition, Ari hinted to possibility of Google doing more, in terms of integrating Arabic-language content into its search platforms and tools.”We would love to have more Arabic content to appear in our seaches and at large on the Internet, because if you think about it we want the Internet to represent the world. The world is a diverse place as it is, and we don’t want one language to dominate the Internet, and want all languages and cultures to be represented,” he says.
To find out more about Google’s partnership with Waseet please check this article.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.