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Region’s mobile user numbers set to explode

Facebook earns 14 per cent of its revenue from mobile phone segment

Gulf News

Dubai: Mobile advertising is still young in the Middle East and North Africa region and the market is going to get a big boost this year as many companies in the region are planning to have a major presence, Jonathan Labin, Head of Marketing Solutions at Facebook–Mena, told Gulf News.

“This year, companies can expect lot of changes in the mobile products from us. It is an untapped opportunity for mobile advertisers. We spend a lot of time with our handsets. It is a good opportunity for advertisers to target this segment,” he said.

According to Facebook, third quarterly statement has shown that 14 per cent of ad revenues had come through the mobile phone platform and the rest came from desktop. “We had launched our mobile solutions in less than nine months. We have more work to do in the mobile space to offer a better experience for users and businesses,” he said.

If a company uses apps on Facebook to drive their revenues, they need to do more than just create an app. They need to have a budget to promote it so that users would know its there and can be used to interact with the company. “You need to create value for your fans to drive awareness and drive sales. You need to have strategy, real engagement and smart content to engage audiences and be more effective.”

Facebook has more than 45 million users in the Mena region, with half of them mobile users. According to Mani Nair, assistant vice-president of marketing at Dubai-based Eurostar, having a Facebook page has given our business a real boost. “We have witnessed around 10 per cent growth in our business. The advantage of having a Facebook page than a website is that it is very transparent. You get personal and instant reviews of our products,” Nair told Gulf News.

He said the company will very soon have a Facebook presence on mobiles and tablets. “Majority of our revenues come from advertising. We registered a 32 per cent year-on-year growth in revenues in the third quarter. The trends that are going to fuel growth this year are the graph search feature launched on Tuesday; the word of mouth advertising and using online marketing in a right way targeting fans and the third is mobile phone,” Labin said.

He said Facebook has big data and information about people and is going to make use of them in the future. According to Jyoti Lalchandani, vice-president and managing director of IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey, social media is almost used independent of their business in the UAE. More interaction between social media and businesses is needed to drive growth.

“FMCG and governments are playing key roles in social media. Smartphones have become cheaper and that is putting more power in the hands of the people. The UAE has a fantastic demographic for social media growth,” Lalchandani told Gulf News. “I cannot really say how much our business has grown by having a Facebook page. But I can really say that the brand awareness has got a shot in arm,” Kurian Chacko, Retail Manager at Hadi Enterprises, told Gulf News.


BY Nausahd K. Cherrayil

Facebook coming out with its own smartphone is only a rumour, Jonathan Labin, Head of Marketing Solutions at Facebook – Mena, told Gulf News.

He said entering the hardware sector is not the right strategy for us. “Mobile is an important strategy for us but without having our own handset. Our intention is only to offer better user experience,” Labin said.