"The study shows that consumers usually look for information on the mobile web via sites and applications before they make any product or service purchases," says Ashwin Salian, Co-founder and Director of Plus7. "We believe that this is a key indicator of why consumer brands must reconsider the way they market their brands."
Sagar Shetty, Co-founder and Director of Plus7 added: "Although mobile advertising is still in its infancy in this region, this study demonstrates that the uptake of mobile internet and e-commerce is quite high. The adoption of smartphones, 3G networks and data plans provides a ripe environment for advertisers looking to reach consumers through a variety of platforms including mobile browsers and apps. As usage increases, mobile advertising will play a key role in the development of the mobile ecosystem."
New survey reveals interesting mobile user habits in Mena region
The survey was released yesterday at The Mobile Show in Dubai, focused on discovering user trends and preferences. A variety of other parameters were measured, including the frequency of users accessing mobile sites and applications online, key purposes for using mobile internet, tendency to do mobile purchases and preferred payment methods.
Notable findings include the fact that Saudis preferred accessing news and information via mobile sites, as opposed to apps. In the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, most mobile purchases are related to technology and travel - and more than half respondents preferred cash on delivery over credit cards when making mobile purchases.
Arabic language advertising sees higher click through rates
Both Plus7 directors sat down with AMEinfo.com to discuss the study in more detail. One of the most interesting findings, not published, was that Arabic language adverts are generating more clicks.
"We're seeing that Arabic creatives across the region are generating a higher click through rate," said Shetty. "One of the reasons is that you don't see as many ads in Arabic, so there's a novelty factor. Some apps may display global ads which are just not relevant to me - the relevancy of an ad increases response rates."
"We also noticed that a lot of publishers wondered why they had so much inventory from the Middle East. For example, Vuclip; Saudi Arabia is in the top three for them globally in terms of traffic, even though they don't advertise or even have an office in the region. Which means, you have people here looking for content and there is not enough local content, so whatever comes their way, they are ready to take it."
It would appear then the market is particularly active, and users in the region are early adopters to new apps and devices. When looking at regional trends, the most marked difference is the English versus Arabic language preference, explained Salian:
"If you look at the UAE and KSA stats, the language split was very different. 90% of respondents in Saudi Arabia preferred Arabic content, whereas only 40% in the UAE. Obviously this is reflected in the make-up of the populations. UAE users favoured accessing news and information sources, followed by email and social networks, whereas Saudi users scored higher for search, with email scoring much lower."
While the mobile advertising space has yet to resemble a gold rush, it is certainly seeing a host of new players get on board. It may be some time before the mobile advertising space becomes a crowded field, but with such frenetic user activity and opportunities for monetisation, that seems inevitable. As brands move away from SMS marketing, and even email blasts, the opportunities will continue to evolve with the technology.