x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Waseet and Google join up to target small businesses

Google has partnered with Waseet, a Middle Eastern classified advertising firm, in an attempt to attract small businesses across the region.

Google has partnered a Middle Eastern classified advertising firm in an attempt to attract small businesses across the region.

The US Web-search firm has formed an alliance with Waseet, through which it will sell its AdWords advertising, which appears next to Web search results.

Waseet is a classified advertising magazine with a claimed regional circulation of 6 million, and which also has an online presence.

Waseet will now sell AdWords advertising on behalf of Google, said Ari Kesisoglu, Google's regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

"If you are a small company with US$1 [Dh3.67] or $100 advertising budget, you can make use of it," he said. The partnership covers Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the UAE, Waseet said.

Google has one other AdWords partner in the region but Mr Kesisoglu said his company's partnership was the first to cover small businesses over multiple markets. He said Google was open to other tie-ups in the region.

Anas Abbar, the general manager for the online division at Al Waseet International, which owns the Waseet brand, said few small and medium-sized businesses in the Mena region had an online presence. "What we're trying to do is enable those small and medium businesses to go online," he said.

Part of this involves encouraging the use of Google's advertising and "opening up the cyberspace to those small businesses", said Mr Abbar.

"We have become Google's AdWords partner in these markets," he said. "We're selling Google AdWords to those smaller businesses."

Currently, the region's smaller businesses are not featured prominently online, said Mr Abbar.

"When I [search for] 'plumbers in Dubai', there is no guarantee that I'll actually end up with a service that provides plumbing services in Dubai," he said.

"You might end up with a large company that provides that service, because they have created an online presence. But for small and medium businesses, they are not on the grid at all."

Digital advertising currently accounts for just 6 per cent of the Arab world's estimated US$4.9 billion (Dh17.99bn) ad market, according to the Arab Media Outlook, which was published in April in collaboration with the Dubai Press Club and Deloitte.

However, this is forecast to grow to 10 per cent by 2015, according to the study.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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