) claims to have 56 million active monthly users in the Middle East
and North Africa, with 28 million of them daily users of the social
The company, which has released data for the MENA region for the
first time, said that the numbers reinforce the growing trend of
mobile connectivity. In the region, 33 million people use phones or
tablets to access Facebook every month, and more than 15 million
To be sure, Internet penetration in the Middle East exceeds 40%,
with about 90 million Internet users as of June last year,
according to internetworldstats.com.
"The digital ad pie is still smaller than other parts of the world,
no doubt, but it's growing pretty fast," said Jonathan Labin,
Facebook's head of MENA, Africa, and Pakistan.
"Most big companies and more and more small companies are using
Facebook. It's how you use it effectively to get the best business
results where we need to work in the region."
The food retailer Just Falafel is an example. It spent $300,000 to
$400,000 on advertising on the social network. For its outlay, it
made a 19-fold return on its investment to the tune of $9 million,
according to Facebook.
Suresh Bhura, the director of media and development at Crayons
Communications, says that although traditional media remains a
favorite of advertisers, "[D]igital [advertising] is growing and
complementing the overall marketing strategy."
Bhura added, "I believe the UAE is far behind in comparison to the
global spend, but it is growing. There are local clients who
understand the power of the digital platform. However, most need
educating and convincing to build their trust in this medium."
Last year, Facebook started operations in the Middle East amid the
growing use of social media tools -- including Twitter,
) -- in the region.
It was reported this week that 80% of hotels in the region have
gained directly from an increase in the use of social media and
digital marketing this year.
"When it comes to competition, you never know where it comes from,"
said Labin. "Facebook constantly wants to innovate, as competition
can come from everywhere and we understand there will be
competition. The key is that the pie is growing and the idea that
one player needs to decrease because another player is rising isn't
necessarily so. We are seeing more usage of Instagram, but that
doesn't mean people are using Facebook less, the pie of time spent
online is just growing overall."
In the second quarter of this year, Facebook had nearly 700 million
daily active users worldwide, including 182 million in Europe, 181
million in Asia, and 142 million in North America.
During that period, the company had more than 1.15 billion active
monthly users. In addition, the number of mobile daily active users
grew to 469 million from 425 million in the first quarter and 293
million in that quarter last year.
The growth in mobile usage of Facebook is reflected in the
company's earnings: Mobile revenues comprised 41% of total income
in the second quarter of this year, up from nothing in the first
six months of last year.
Total advertising revenue topped $1.5 billion in the second quarter
of this year.
Editor's Note: This
article by Andrew Scott was originally syndicated by
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