Up until now, digital advertising is rather undeveloped in the region, accounting for an estimated 4 percent of its total advertising spending, also these services are only available to brands and marketing companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Latin America, but a young, tech-savvy population and rising Internet penetration points to significant potential for growth in the Middle East and North Africa.
Elaborating on the growth of the service, Twitter executive said, “It is one of our rapidly blossoming regions,” said Shailesh Rao, a vice president of international operations at the social network and blogging site. “Twitter is used when events in the real world spark conversations online, be it unplanned events, natural disasters, politics or TV shows.”
“When we finalized we wanted to prioritize in the Middle East region it was principally because we had a large user base here and was growing rapidly,” Rao, said at a press conference in Dubai. “The active user base in the Middle East has tripled in the last year. It is one of the fastest growing regions in the world.”
As a matter of fact, the launch comes as reports indicates that Twitter is now worth US$9 billion (Dh33.5bn) after the world’s largest asset manger BlackRock purchased $80 million worth of shares from early employees.
However, Rao noted that, “The two are interconnected — the rapid growth of our user base with the timing of why we want to help brands connect with that audience.”
In order to further its cause, Twitter has recruited Connect Ads, a unit of Egypt’s OTVentures as its sales partner in the region late last year. OTVentures is an affiliate of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology.
Additionally, the duo will be focusing their efforts on Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan to launch different advertising solutions where advertisers are charged only when users engage with the promoted products.
To reap the benefits, the company says, “To advertise on Twitter you have to have your finger on the pulse of society and be aware of what is happening at the time and develop campaigns that are timely,” said Rao.
In fact, the companies that have already joined the service are: Pepsi, Dubai’s Atlantis Hotel, the Saudi Arabian telecoms company Mobily and Dubai Calendar have been working with Connected Ads to have their brands promoted on Twitter.
Moreover, the agency will also provide education and training programs for brands and large advertisers in the region to learn how best to use Twitter in their campaigns.
“The response has been amazing,” said Mohamed El Mehairy, the managing director of Connect Ads. “Half the job is done, brands are not asking why [to advertise] Twitter, but how?,” he added.
Apparently, digital advertising spending in the Middle East is worth about $200 million, according to El Mehairy, but this is expected to grow substantially.
“Social media advertising is totally different because it relies on what people say. It is about two-way, not one-way, communication,” said El Mehairy.
Financial details of the collaboration with Cairo-based Connect Ads were not disclosed, but the agency will lead sales of Twitter’s three advertising products: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. Twitter, established in 2006, launched Promoted Products as a revenue generator a couple of years ago. It is thought the company will generate $1bn in revenues by next year.