The digital divide and the lack of knowledge in the Middle East is a major barrier to investing in online marketing, according to Econsultancy research published in April this year.
In Econsultancy's State of Digital in MENA Report, some 20% of client-side companies and 42% of agencies said that a lack of understanding about online is preventing their organisation from investing more money in digital.
As further evidence, last year, Shaik Umar, Middle East Head for IDA Singapore, reported that the digital divide and lack of skilled talent are the main problems plaguing the Gulf's IT industry. Part of the reason for the lack of skills is the smaller population of the Gulf compared to other regions.
So, what can companies do to plug the gap and make the most of online marketing?
Econsultancy and LBi / bigmouthmedia have launched the 2011 State of Social Media survey, which aims to benchmark trends and levels of spending within the market.
As with similar studies published in 2009 and 2010, the research is based on a survey of client-side marketers and in-house PR professionals, as well as agencies, consultants and other specialists working in the social media arena.
More than 600 companies have already completed the survey since Friday, a great response which shows that interest in this topic shows no sign of abating.
Many companies are under the impression that opinion about brands on Twitter is mostly negative, but a new survey conducted by Econsultancy (and supported by Toluna) shows evidence to the contrary.
The Twitter for Business Guide, published earlier this week, includes findings from consumer research, which indicates that a higher proportion of consumers have conveyed positive, rather than negative feedback on the social platform.
Earlier this year, Twitter celebrated its 5th anniversary. The social platform now has 200m users, generates over 200m tweets and handles over 1.6bn search queries per day.
Twitter is now undoubtedly popular and many businesses use the site as a tool for marketing, PR, branding, engagement, customer service, and much more.
Despite this, companies still face barriers to getting the most value from the microblogging site, which is why Econsultancy has produced its first guide to Twitter for Business.
If your business isn't using Twitter yet, it's worth considering the value it offers for your organisation. I've been talking to a number of experts about best practice on the platform, including business benefits, tips and pitfalls, and how to measure success.
Samih Toukan is Chairman and CEO at Jabbar Internet Group, the leading group of internet sites and web properties in the Middle East and North Africa.
In 2000, along with Hussam Khoury, Samih founded the Arab Internet services company, Maktoob as the world's first Arabic / English email service provider.
Following the subsequent acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo, Samih founded Jabbar Internet Group, an integrated group of online companies and websites. The group’s assets extend from e-commerce sites to online games, to advertising products & search services.
I caught up with Samih to find out a little more about the companies within the Jabbar Internet Group, and the future of digital marketing in the Middle East...
Earlier this week, Best Burger in Oman almost did a "Benihana", by threatening to sue a blogger for writing a somewhat negative review of their restaurant.
But what Best Burger didn't know was that the blogger it was planning to sue is also a legal researcher by profession. Luckily for both parties in the end, the restaurant decided to do the right thing by withdrawing legal action, and thinking constructively about how the menu could be improved.
However, many companies in the Middle East still fail to recognise the tremendous opportunities borne out of negative feedback, and how it can be used to improve the business and build stronger long-term customer relationships.
Digital marketing is thriving in the Middle East, according to new research published today by Econsultancy and supported by ArabianBusiness.com. The survey-based research has found that companies are spending 22% of their marketing budget on digital.
Companies are using a wide range of digital channels for marketing, and investment in online is expected to increase across the board. Encouragingly, over half of companies (58%) are increasing their digital budgets in 2011.
However, the market is still very much in its infancy, and still faces major barriers to investment. Company culture, a reliance on traditional marketing, and a lack of knowledge are preventing companies from investing further money into digital.
This post looks at the current state of digital marketing in the Middle East, and some of the trends covered in our latest report.
Social gaming exploded last year. More consumers are now playing these sorts of games online, and brands (ranging from SMEs and local businesses to blue-chips and multinationals) are beginning to invest in this space.
The sector is now worth close to £1bn, and is expected to show further growth in 2011.
This post, which coincides with the launch of our Social Gaming Smart Pack, contains a brief overview of social gaming, why it's important, and how it can be used for marketing.
Thanks to the popularity of social networks and online communities, the social gaming industry is booming. It's no longer a niche sector, and online games are now popular with people of all ages and demographics.
In fact, contrary to long-standing stereotypes, a survey published earlier this year revealed that the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman.
Social gaming is a fast-moving landscape, and becoming increasingly significant as consumers are spending a greater proportion of their time playing online games. As evidence of this, London hosted the first European Social Gaming Summit at Chelsea Football Club recently, which explored the evolution of this rapidly emerging sector.
At the Summit. I caught up with Simon Guild, Chairman of the Board at Bigpoint Games, to discuss the latest trends in online and browser-based social games and the future direction of the industry.
Is email marketing dead? Not according to Econsultancy's recently published Buyer's Guide, which predicts the market will have grown by an estimated 15% this year, to a total value of £336 million.
But there are many who still believe social media will devour email's slice of the pie, including Facebook's COO, Sheryl Sandburg. However, as the industry is approaching maturity, naturally the sector is changing according to developing user needs and increasingly sophisticated technology. The evidence indicates that email marketing is far from dead...