A Dubai-based digital media company is in advanced talks to manage the mobile phone marketing business of ikoo, the biggest advertising network in the MENA region. Sagar Shetty, the director and co-founder of Clique Media, said that the mobile advertising market in the Middle East remains untapped with more than 285 million page views being accessed every month. That is the number of websites people are looking at on their mobiles in the Arab world.
"Now, we want to be able to add all the local businesses on there [the mobile Web] and our aim is to add an additional 40 to 50 million page impressions," Mr Shetty said. Clique Media has partnered with several international mobile advertising platforms including AdMob and Mojiva over the past several months to become their regional partner, Mr Shetty said. "Just like AdMob has all these [mobile] websites in English, we're trying to mobilise all the local websites to make a local mobile ad network in the Middle East," Mr Shetty said.
AdMob is currently involved in a US$750 million (Dh2.7bn) acquisition from Google but has yet to close following scrutiny by US anti-trust regulators. For Clique Media, ikoo represents a major opportunity. The network produces ads for 120 websites and has a reach of 1.4 billion page views a month. "They don't have a mobile site right now," Mr Shetty said. "We're talking to them and we're saying, 'we'll build your mobile site, get ads on there and we will sell them.'" Although the share of the mobile advertising market in the overall sector remains small, it is expected to grow significantly in the next few years as marketers shift their budgets online.
In Egypt, for example, the mobile phone platform now represents 40 per cent of revenues for the country's largest digital advertising business. Online advertising - of which the mobile segment is currently a small fraction - is expected to more than triple its share of the ad sector from 4 per cent last year to 13.4 per cent by 2014, according to recent research by the consultancy Booz and Company. Clique Media has been involved in six regional mobile advertising campaigns in the past eight months including ones for The Economist and the Abu Dhabi Formula One.
It is also working with Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) to develop its mobile strategy, Mr Shetty said. ADMC owns and publishes The National. Mr Shetty said the Middle Eastern mobile ad network would begin to see traction after two years once more people adopted smartphone devices that were able to view contextual advertisements on mobile web browsers. "For us to get everything on the ground and ready and for advertisers to understand how it works, it's going to take a little while," he said.