Source: United Kingdom’s (UK) Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), and Visa quoted in the Edge online article. Available online from http://www.theedge.me/the-incredible-growth-of-e-commerce-in-qatar/
We can’t talk about the Digital landscape in this Region without talking about the Internet So next we will be looking at the state of the Internet in the Middle East compared to the World
In the Middle East Internet usageincreased phenomenally from only 3 million in 2000 to 90 million users in 2012 shooting up by 2,639.9%And with a total population nearing 250 million and a fast growing technology and economy, the number is expected to continue to grow, rapidly!
In the GCC, Saudi Arabia leads in the number of internet users followed by the UAE. However the highest in penetration rate is Qatar followed by Kuwait, the UAE and then Saudi as you will see in the next chart.
And now looking at the top visited websites in the GCC.All these are Arabic websites and in order of popularity. The main influencer to these being up there is the Saudi Market owing to its population number.
As is true around the World, Social Media is the buzz word when it comes to Digital Media… Though the majority of the digital marketing spend is still going to email marketing and search engine optimization… all eyes are on online social networking sites and more and more businesses are planning to put in more resources.
The Social media landscape in the GCC is similar to that of Europe and North America. These are in the order of their appearances in the GCC. New comers are Instagram and Pinterest, both are visual media networking sites gaining momentum in the Region.Social Media started with blogging in 2003, 2005 saw the birth of the gigantic video site YouTube. By 2008 FaceBook was gaining market place followed by Twitter then Linkedin and in 2011, Google plus. New on the scene and gaining similar, if not more power, are the visual social networking sites, Instagram and Pinterest (photo sharing websites) that one can get connected to Facebook,Twitter,Foursquare and others. These are not the only SM networks used in the Region but they are the most popular ones.
Here’s a chart showing the increase in Facebook usage in the past year!Reason.. Most researches believe it was a direct reaction to the Arab Spring… there could be some deeper explanation… but what’s certain is that we are witnessing a boom!
Starting with the biggest networking site on the planet that’s recently surpassed the 1 billion subscribers and took over Google’s position at one time this year as number one visited website on the planet for the first time in its history.Saudi is third place in the number of users in the Middle East following Turkey and Egypt.UAE is the second in user numbers in the GCC region after Saudi and its followed by Kuwait and Qatar.
As for language preference Saudi seems to be the only GCC state that prefers the Arabic interface.Other GCC prefer the English interface this could be owing to its expat population and the fact that English is more widely taught in government schools in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar than in Saudi.Looking at the other Arab states it also means that Arabs with lower education levels are now using Facebook.
Saudi and Kuwait have the second and third most active number of users on Twitter after Turkey and before Egypt and UAE users number is almost equal to that of Egypt. Saudi’s make up 40% of twitter users in the Arab region 2.1 million. (June 2012)What’s noteworthy is Kuwait’s number. Given its population, 2.6 million, 14% of Kuwaitis use Twitter making them the most conversational in the region. The Arab Social Media report analyzedtweets in March 2012 and found that the estimated number of daily tweets is 5,750,386 and the most popular trending hash tags across the Arab region were #bahrainسوريا (Arabic for Syria)بحرين (Arabic for Bahrain) #syria and #egyptand #kuwaitArabic is the fastest growing language in Twitter history.
In the Middle East, UAE holds first place in terms of Linkedin subscribers (almost 50% more than the next Middle Eastern country) followed by Saudi. In contrast to the other three GCC states, Kuwait is the only one that has more Twitter active users than Linkedin subscribers.
The chart is copied from the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey May 2012 (http://www.arabyouthsurvey.com/english/) 2,500 youth between 18 and 24 … majority are from the six GCC countries. The types of Blogs read are: Fashion 53% News & current affairs 45%Celebrity News 31% Technology 30% Health & Nutrition 24% Cookery 20% Politics 18%One of the key finds of the Survey were that theArab youth are following the news far more keenly than ever before – but less frequently on television and more often on the Internet; they have also developed a passion for the blogosphereAccording to a Harvard study done in 2009- Saudi Arabia is the second largest cluster of Arab Bloggers after Egypt and it’s got the highest rate of female Bloggers 46% compared to the average rate of 35% in the Arab world. Topics relate to personal issues, few political topics, preference for technology - Kuwaiti English language bloggers comes after and then right after that the Kuwaiti Arabic language clusterEnglish bloggers topics are international news and policy, economic issues, ethnic minorities, poetry, literature, support for the Western culture.Arabic bloggers topics are domestic news and policy, support for domestic leaders, Islam, pop cultureSources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogging_in_Arab_countrieshttp://cyber.law.harvard.edu/sites/cyber.law.harvard.edu/files/Mapping_the_Arabic_Blogosphere_0.pdf
I picked out a sample of popular blogs from UAE and Kuwait, looking at the type of ads featured on these blogs can give you an idea on the level popularity they enjoy and it also says that these blogs are search engine optimized and monetized, i.e. they are mature blogs. Kuwaiti blogs are more specialized as you can see from the samples, one is about a couple’s review of Kuwait out and about the other is about food and the latter about entertainment biz.
Sample this blogger for you… Aboflan.com a Kuwaiti blog reflecting maturity, relevancy and consistency across a number of platforms. The blog is updated daily. The blogger is also on Twitter and has around 40,000 followers and more than 76k tweets and has his own online TV Channel. He’s blog is very well categorized with a dedicated section on Travel in which he writes about destinations he’s visited showcasing photos, his latest was about his visit to Vienna last Summer. He also writes good and bad reviews about hotels and restaurants he’s been to. All these assets are for a personal blogger Abo Flan (translates to father of somebody) who’s a school teacher and a father of two boys as he writes in his bio.
You will see the same ratio repeating itself in the blogosphere and
Youtube figures according to the Arab Social Media Report titled“Social Media in the Arab World: Influencing Societal and Cultural Change? July 2012” availableonline from (http://www.arabsocialmediareport.com/UserManagement/PDF/ASMR%204%20updated%2029%2008%2012.pdf) There are 167 million video views a day in the Arab region, putting the region in the number two spot in the world (behind the U.S. and ahead of Brazil). Views in the region have grown by 120% in the last six months. One hour of YouTube video is uploaded in the Arab region per minute
* Emirates Airlines recently celebrated reaching 1 million likes. The page enjoys a very high engagement. Emirates has recently launched a Google + account that attracted more than 250K likes in just three weeks. **Abu Dhabi page has 131K fans and almost 10% are talking about it another high engagement rate and the city of Riyadh Facebook places has more than 260K likes and almost 1.5 check-insDubai 1 m likes and 4.7 m check-ins*** H. H. Skeikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has a very strong presence online locally. He’s recently launched a campaign on Twitter in celebration of the 41stUAE national day (2 Dec) to spread awareness about the history of the seven emirates unity. He’s posting tweets about how it all began and inspirational messages about how it led to the prosperity Emiratis enjoy today. **** Local Governments are utilizing SM channels to inform, update and influence and they are along with local public personalities and businesses posting bilingual (English and Arabic) content. It’s noteworthy to mention that most of the UAE government sector websites have been revamped they are now faster, more user friendly, have online payment capabilities and are mobile connected via Apps.
Remember in the opening slide I pointed to more than USD 3 billion was spent online in 2010... Well the majority of the money being spent comes from the UAE, Saudi and Qatar Though Qatar is not showing in the graph it’s not far behind Saudi. With all GCC and ME markets promising great potential.
Starting with the oldest and most popular ecommerce website in the Arab World, Souk.com, The Arab Region’s version of eBay then leading to the fastest growing phenomena in the last few years, discount retail and group buying websites we are starting to see TV and radio ads for these websites for the first time. Now.. there is a group buying website for every possible derivative of the words coupon, deal, offer, etcAs you can see the market is congested and it’s not hard to believe that online payment is becoming a casual affair.
Ask any digital professional and they will tell you that the future is in mobile devices and smart phones and screens specificallyi.e. we will see more of these smart pc-like interactive screens that are capable of doing anything
According to Google Mobile Ads, consumers in emerging markets have some of the highest levels of mobile engagement and looking for local information is a near universal smartphone behaviour. 73% in Saudi Arabia are searching on their mobile device daily.48% of smartphone users in the UAE call a business after a local smartphone search.
Sources: Our Mobile Planet: Saudi Arabia – Understanding the Mobile Consumer (Google, May 2012) available online http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/our_mobile_planet_saudi_arabia_en.pdfOur Mobile Planet: UAE – Understanding the Mobile Consumer (Google, May 2012) http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/our_mobile_planet_uae_en.pdf (May 2012)Looking at these stats.. Saudi always the most conservative and UAE the progressive one fast to adapt and adopt... We see Saudi catching up quiet aggressively!
Again comparison above reflects a change in the Saudi digital landscape being the most conservative of the six GCC states again it looks like its matching up to the UAE the most progressive and technology savvy in the GCC.
Smart Phones are a stronger advertisement medium, they are handy and personal. According to research 93% of smartphone users notice mobile ads.
These are my findings and I’ve endeavoured to look at a number of sources. However I’m writing your questions and I will get back to you with supporting evidence.
GCC Digital Media Landscape
Digital Media LandscapeGCC Market by @rania711
Executive Summary• Internet users in GCC grew by more than 2000% from Dec 2000 to Jun 2012.• Arabic is the fastest growing language on the Web with a penetration rate of 18% worldwide.• Saudi has the highest number of YouTube views in the world per Internet user.• Facebook users in the Region increased by 50% between Jun 2011 and Jun 2012 .• 27% of marketing budgets were allocated to digital in 2012, up from 22% in 2011, with potential to increase by at least 20%. (EConsultancy, Feb 2012)• By 2015, Ecommerce in the GCC will have grown to USD 15 billion up from USD 3.3 billion in 2010.*• Saudi and UAE are the World’s leaders in smartphone penetration at 60% and 61% respectively.* Source: UK’s Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) and Visa quoted in The Edge online article.
Arabic in the top 10 Languages on the Internet Arabic is the fastest growing language on the Internet at the rate of 2,501.2% on 31 May 2011 compared to 2000, and a penetration rate of 18.8% making it the 7th most spoken language on the Internet. Source: data published by Nielsen Online, International Telecommunications Union, GfK, and other reliable sources.
Popular Arabic Websites Name Description URLGoogle Saudi Arabia The third Arabic interface page of the search engine Google google.com.saMSN Arabia Incarnation of the worldwide Microsoft network portal site Localized for Arabia.msn.com users in the Arab World, in Arabic & EnglishMaktoob The first web-based e-mail service To allow use of Arabic as well as English. It maktoob.com was acquired by Yahoo to become its Arabic interface websiteAl-Jazeera Internet edition of the Arab World’s most famous satellite TV station. Aljazeera.netAl-Saha Al-Arabiya One of the oldest since 1998 and best-known Arabic discussion Forums, alsaha.com popular among all political Persuasions, especially in the UAE And Saudi Arabiagoogle.ae Google’s first Arabic version google.aeKooora Soccer portal kooora.comHawaaworld Portal for women, conventional outlook hawaaworld.com6arab.com Real audio files of popular Arabic music 6arab.comJeeran Arab web hosting community jeeran.comShabakat Oz Kuwaiti portal: chat, clubs, pictures Software downloads ozq8.com Source: Morris Kalliny (2012): What Advertisers Need to Know About Promotion in the Arab World: Technology and Media Perspectives, Journal of Promotion Management, 18:4, 436-457 Available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10496491.2012.715124
Saudi Arabia is the only GCC state that appears to prefer Facebook’s Arabic interfacemore than the English one.Source: Arab Social Media Report (July 2012)
Twitter active users in GCC (Jun 2012)and ranking in the Middle East Source: Arab Social Media Report (July 2012)
Linkedin subscribers in GCC (Jun 2012)and ranking in the Middle East UAE: 1.035m Saudi: 710K Qatar: 189K Kuwait: 175K Source: Arab Social Media Report (2012)
State of the Arabic Blogosphere40,000 Arabic Blogs (Kalliny, 2012) Arab Youth Survey May 2012 Source: Morris Kalliny (2012): What Advertisers Need to Know About Promotion in the Arab World: Technology and Media Perspectives, Journal of Promotion Management, 18:4, 436-457 Available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10496491.2012.715124
Aboflan.com (a Kuwaiti blogger – good example)Kuwaiti blogs are sophisticated and well connectedwith content distributed across platforms.
Social Media in the GCC who’s using it, how and why?
Social Media usage by Gender World Wide Trend Female to Male avg. is 50/50 < GCC Female to Male avg. is 35/65 Mainly due to societal & cultural limitations: Family/society barriers and stereotypes placed on women Source: Arab Social Media Report (June 2012)
Sample of Saudi daily social media consumption Saudi Arabia leads the Arab world in the 938,070 number of daily visits at ~1 million. 815,535 There are 90 million video views in Saudi per day (the highest number of YouTube views in the world per Internet user). Number of visits 682,227 215,985 441 Youtube Google Plus facebook Twitter InstagramSources: http://www.statscrop.comhttp://www.arabsocialmediareport.com/UserManagement/PDF/ASMR%204%20updated%2029%2008%2012.pdf
Leading in Ecommerce spending (2011) USD 2 Billion USD 520 Million UAE SaudiSource: According to recent research done by Visa in 2011 sited by Sacha Orlof Group in their report“Saudi Arabia Retail Prospects and Outlook for 2012” available online
Online Retailers and Group buying sites serving as a catalyst to push buying power onlineSource: TwoFour54 white paper “Group buying sites take the UAE by storm” available online.
UAE and Saudi leading the world in smartphone penetration Sources: http://www.thinkwithgoogl e.com/mobileplanet (2012) http://googlemobileads.blo gspot.co.uk/2012/05/new- research-shows-6- countries-are.html (May, 2012)
Smartphones are a valuable research tool UAESaudi Sources: Our Mobile Planet: Saudi Arabia and Our Mobile Planet: UAE (Google, May 2012)
How smartphones are being used100% Sources: Our Mobile Planet: Saudi Arabia and Our Mobile90% 92%80% 77% 78%70% 71% 70%60% 66%50% 52% Planet: UAE (Google, May 2012)40% 39%30% 34%20% 25%10% 0% UAE KSA UAE KSA UAE KSA UAE KSA UAE KSA Access Internet Daily Use mobile while Take action upon Make a purchase See an offline Ad then watching TV researching - i.e. buy or research on mobile contact a business
Sources: Our Mobile Planet: Saudi Arabia and Our Mobile Planet: UAE (Google, May 2012)
Sources: Our Mobile Planet: Saudi Arabia and Our Mobile Planet: UAE (Google, May 2012)