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Interview: Rich Riley, SVP and MD EMEA, Yahoo!

Interview: Rich Riley, SVP and MD EMEA, Yahoo!

Yahoo! EMEA SVP and MD Rich Riley shares insights including the extent of censorship in Yahoo!-Maktoob sites plus plans for reaching 85 per cent of online users in MENA.

May 15, 2011 3:27 by

What do you think about being online and how has your global experience helped Maktoob in that area?

One of the great things for us has been preserving the passion of the start-up that was Maktoob and bringing in some of the global-scale experience that Yahoo! has. We have strengthened that in the past 18 months or so. We have integrated teams to maximise the impact of bringing global online marketing to this region. We have increased our targeting capacity. We have increased our ability to package and sell advertising.

Now we have a Yahoo! homepage in Arabic, which has become one of the most popular websites in the Middle East. We are trying to bring the best of Yahoo! to the region, while not slowing down the passion of the Yahoo! Maktoob team. You know, integration is always a challenge, but so far so good, we have increased our market share and we continue to grow our user base.

Have Facebook and Twitter surpassed Yahoo!?

Social services have become a very important part of what people do online. Yahoo! does offer a variety of social services from Flikr to Yahoo! Answers to citizen sports in America. So we will continue that social part, which will remain core, allowing people to share and communicate. What we won’t do, so to speak, is a bespoke social service. There are certain things that Yahoo! does best, such as personalised web experiences for news, sports, weather and forums.

Do you plan to acquire any other companies in the region?

We are always looking for acquisitions in markets around the world. We made 10 acquisitions (globally) last year. In the Middle East we are quite happy with what we have, so we are not looking at any more acquisitions in this region.

What services do you plan to add to Yahoo! Maktoob?

We plan to add more Yahoo! services to Maktoob. In most markets Yahoo! has a leading position in sports, finance, travel and autos, so we are planning to bring in such services in Arabic. In the coming months and quarters you’ll see more such services. Not much content is available in Arabic, so we are planning to bridge that gap. Also we are looking to launch websites on the lines of our lifestyle and celebrity websites in Europe. We will continue to add more and more Arabic content every month and quarter.

How much of the Yahoo!’s revenue comes from this region?

What I can tell you is that the Middle East and North Africa is the fastest- growing market in terms of revenues and unique users, but this market still
contributes a small percentage of our global revenue.

Originally published in TRENDS May 2011 issue, page 56

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