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Letting the chat out of the bag

Letting the chat out of the bag

EBuddy sees Saudi and Egypt as main growth engines in the region

June 1, 2011 3:35 by

RICH PICKINGS. According to van den Heuvel, Saudi Arabia has 225,000 unique users a month on eBuddy’s Web version, and 400,000 on the mobile version. “The largest group of users in Saudi Arabia (46 percent) are aged between 18 and 24 years old, [and] there are slightly more female users on both mobile and Web.” (See charts, right, for more stats.)
EBuddy’s advertising options on the Web include banners, homepage takeovers, messenger takeovers (around the messenger window), rich media ads and pre-roll (while loading the messenger). On mobile, banners can be used for feature phones, and smart phones such as iPhones and Android handsets have rich media possibilities as well.

A few months ago, eBuddy did an advertising campaign for Yahoo Maktoob, which focused on KSA, Egypt and the UAE, and it carried a Mars campaign back in July that was targeted toward Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, KSA and the UAE.

“The interesting thing about the region is that we see a number of campaigns running in multiple countries at the same time. So the campaigns that we run are normally not only in Saudi or in the UAE, but most of the time in more countries too,” he says. “We don’t see that in Europe, for instance,” where most campaigns are run in one country only, he adds.
Since the majority of eBuddy’s users, even in the Middle East, are between 13 and 24 years old, the platform attracts advertisers looking to target youth, says van den Heuvel. “We have a lot of fast-moving consumer goods companies, like Nike and Adidas. We see a lot of entertainment and gaming advertisers, and they also come back every time. P&G and Unilever also, because they have specific products in their portfolio that are interesting for youth. But, of course, we don’t see a lot of financial services or automotives, because it doesn’t fit with our audience.”

DATA LATER. Van den Heuvel says that in terms of advertising, the targeting possibilities in this region are slightly different from Western markets when it comes to the Web. Users can be targeted according to their age, gender, country and how they use eBuddy’s services, “for instance, how many times they log in, how long they stay on eBuddy, what time they use it, and so on,” he says. “In the US we see a lot of data collection; there are specific data providers who collect data from users from different publishers and combine it. So, in that area, we use those data-collecting companies to target more if an advertiser wants that. Moreover, in the US and Europe, we do some behavioral targeting. We use firms that can track users [as they go from eBuddy to another site] and build up a specific behavior for the user.”
“However, [behavioral targeting] is something we haven’t done yet in the Middle East. We haven’t had a lot of requests [for it in the region],” says van den Heuvel. “I think that will come in a year or so. Maybe what we’ll see is that it first starts in the US, then it comes to Europe via the UK and then the rest of Europe, and then you see it popping up in Asia and the Middle East and a little bit in Lebanon.”

According to van den Heuvel, the mobile version of eBuddy in the Middle East offers better data collection and targeting possibilities than the Web version. “On mobile it is a little bit different, because if you download our application you have to make an eBuddy ID. If you look at the targeting possibilities on mobile, you can target on age, gender, country, the time of the day, etcetera, and also on the operator – for instance, we can target only Etisalat users or only du users – or the handset manufacturer. For example, Nokia handsets or Samsung handsets.”
When it comes to IM platforms, Windows Live Messenger seems to be the most popular one on eBuddy. In the Middle East, 80 percent of users chat with Windows Live Messenger. Yahoo Messenger comes next with 14 percent, says van den Heuvel. In Saudi Arabia, 90 percent of users use Windows Live Messenger, while 8 percent use Yahoo Messenger.

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