The Middle East is one of the major growth regions for the internet, and a study released this week revealed that web users in the region spend more time online than many of their Western counterparts. Here, Omar Khaled, Partner Relations Manager for Arabic search engine Ayna, talks about how search is evolving in the region and the opportunities available to both local and international markets.
Omar, tell us about Ayna
Ayna is an established company headquartered in USA with branches in UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon. Our core business is offering local answers and solutions to Internet users in the Middle East & North African (MENA) region. Ayna started in 1997 by bringing the first Arabic Search Engine set to the convenience of Arab users all over the region. Today, Ayna has a wide range of online services and up-to-date technologies, thus reaching the widest user segment in our region. To check our services, please go to http://ayna.com/index.en.html
What is the search market like in The Middle East at the moment?
The search market is witnessing impressive developments in our region. Last year, search advertising was up by double-figures from the year before. Analysts predicted that it is expected to grab a bigger share of the internet advertising market within the coming four years. Search Advertising has now become an affordable, measurable, and traceable tool of promotion. We believe our market is a fertile market, and is bound to witness noticeable growth within the coming years.
What are the opportunities for marketers targeting users in the region?
Internet in our region retains a substantial audience. Latest studies have shown that the MENA internet users spend more time online than watching TV throughout the day. The studies have also showed that the internet usage in our region remains at its peak all day long compared to other media. This indicates that the internet has become the number one media consumed by users during the day, thus opening new opportunities for marketers to target users in the region. In addition, some countries in this region are continuing to heavily invest in the Information & Communication Infrastructure as part of the strategies to develop local economies and increase the number of web users.
Does the Arabic language pose any challenges in search campaigns?
Arabic is the seventh most popular language on the web, with more than 344 million Arabic users worldwide. Such figures show that the Arabic language is a key factor in the success of a local search campaign targeting locals that intend and prefer to have their search experience in their native language. Case studies have shown that local audiences respond more to advertisements in their local language, which have local relevance. This is certainly the case in The Middle East and North Africa.
If you could give one tip to organisations embarking on Arabic campaigns, what would it be?
“Localize Yourself!” If you want to target locals, you have to have a well-set local campaign. During our session in the International Search Summit, we will be giving some tips and tricks on how to target locals and create successful Arabic campaigns.