x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Middle East mobile net users increase

Business users are browsing the net less with computers than they were a year ago.

More Middle East business people used mobile devices to hook on to the internet last month, compared with February 2007, while fewer used computers, a survey released yesterday showed. The survey, presented to the Digital Marketing Conference in Dubai yesterday by the Dubai-based research company Real Opinions, said computers were still by far the main way to connect to the internet. "The previous year, we saw a trend from the desktop PC to the laptop, and now it seems to be a trend shifting away toward a boost in the mobile devices," said Dan Healy, the chief executive of Real Opinions. "That presents a much greater opportunity for people whose websites are actually optimised for people using smaller hand-held devices, like Blackberry and the Nokias." The percentage who regularly logged in to the web with their mobiles increased from 33.5 per cent to 40 per cent. Numbers of people using desktops to log in decreased from 63.50 per cent to 58.93 per cent, while those using laptops slid from 82.80 per cent to 81.35 per cent. Mr Healy said mobile device users tended to be professionals and high-end targets for advertisers. "This is a select group of business internet users," he said. "These are people with authority and relatively high disposable income, which are the target group for the travel industry, the hotels and the airlines. "This gives advertisers more creative ways to access them." The survey, of 446 business internet users in the region, also found they spend far more time using the internet than they do with any other kind of media. But Mr Healy warned this didn't mean advertisers should focus solely on the internet. The survey said users spent an average of 3.51 hours a day surfing online, compared with 2.28 hours watching television. But it found that, while internet use dominated other media in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, radio was stronger in the morning rush hour, and television was stronger in the evening. "I know there has been a lot of debate in the industry saying internet is going to control everything but it's simply not true, because you can see that at different times to the day, different types of internet are preferred," Mr Healy said. The key for advertisers was to find the most effective mix of media, then drive consumers towards making purchases or find out more information online or in stores. Most respondents, 58 per cent, said the current economic climate had affected their organisation's budget for marketing and advertising, but 37 per cent also said it had increased their organisation's interest in internet marketing. Online advertising makes up less than 1 per cent of the region's advertising spending. "The way the market is developing is actually forcing advertisers to think of new paradigms to maintain or grow their market share," Mr Healy said. khagey@thenational.ae