The increasing popularity of social networking sites, especially in the Middle East, can be used to the advantage of businesses that wish to grow, which in turn can create economic value, a research conducted by Deloitte has revealed.
The fourth edition of the Arab Media Outlook, or AMO — done in collaboration with Deloitte — showed that social media has grown significantly across the Arab World, with Facebook along shooting up 80 per cent in 2011.
According to the study, Facebook embodies a new generation of social media organisations that have a significant global impact.
As per Facebook’s recently published figures, the Middle East and North Africa region has 45 million monthly active users and 20 million mobile monthly active users on the social network.
The AMO report showed that digital is in fact the fastest growing platform in the region and accounted for four per cent of the total advertising spend in 2011. However, it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 35 per cent from 2011 to 2015, generating approximately $580 million by 2015 across the region. It will account for an estimated 10 per cent of the total advertising spend by 2015.
Facebook penetration across most Arab countries reached double digit figures and there is still room for growth, given that female participation is relatively low in some countries such as Egypt, the AMO report finds. Markets such as Egypt added close to 2 million new Facebook users in the first quarter of 2011 alone.
The AMO further indicates that over 90% of all internet users in the UAE are on social networking sites like Facebook. In addition, frequency of use has significantly increased in the past couple of years with over 65% of these users visiting social networks more than once a day in UAE and Saudi Arabia. Unsurprisingly the Arabic version of Facebook has captured the lion share of audience with nearly 90% of respondents in Saudi Arabia using Facebook’s Arabic version.
Furthermore, according to the AMO report, digital platforms have a particularly strong growth potential in the region given the favorable regional demographics as more than 50% of the population is below the age of 25. multi-tablet usage is also on the rise globally, according to a Deloitte report on 2012 top global technology trends.
As advertisers and media outlets in the region catch up with the increased usage of Facebook and other social media sites, Deloitte TMT experts predict heightened digital advertising spend in the coming years. The rise of tablets and smart phones in the Middle East will serve as a driver for this growth.