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Twitter rolls out ad network in Middle East, North Africa

Twitter is targeting the Middle East and North Africa in a big way. The social network has reportedly opened commercial operations in the UAE after its user base in the region more than tripled over the past year.

According to The National, the social network will work with Egyptian-based ad agency Connect Ads to punt its sales products across the region.

“It is one of our fastest-growing regions,” said Twitter vice president of internal operations Shailesh Rao. “Twitter is used when events in the real world spark conversations online, be it unplanned events, natural disasters, politics or TV shows.”

While the precise details of the deal are not yet known, it is believed that Connect Ads will lead sales of promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends in the region. These products will be available for people to purchase in Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan. Previously Twitter’s advertising products were only available in the US, UK, Japan and Latin America.

The likes of Pepsi, Dubai’s Atlantis Hotel, Saudi Arabian telecoms company Mobily and Dubai Calendar have reportedly all signed up to get themselves promoted on Twitter.

Twitter’s decision to roll out commercial operations in the region makes sense. In the wake of the Arab Spring, which saw regime changes in the likes Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, Arabic exploded as a language on the social network.

The 2012 Arab Social Media Report estimates that there are just over two-million Twitter users across the Arab region, sending out nearly six-million tweets a day. While Twitter has been highly politicised in the region, those numbers do suggest a captive and engaged audience that could be receptive to advertising done in the right way.

Deloitte’s Arab Media Outlook only strengthens the case for advertising in the region with its report that digital accounted for four percent of all advertising in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region in 2011 and is set to grow 35% over the next three years to US$580-million by 2015.

Twitter’s decision to move into new markets is also a sign that its advertising products are working. The company, long derided having no serious business model, is set to generate US$1-billion in revenue by next year. That kind of revenue will be a serious help when it finally goes public in the same year.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More

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