2017 Trends Report: The Top Online Statistics in Egypt

Egypt had the most significant growth in internet users and social media in 2017. This report is providing an overview of the top online stats and trends collected from the most recent releases and annual reports. Let’s start with the top highlights and an infographic which illustrates the year in figures.

Highlights of 2017: Online and social media statistics in Egypt

  • Internet users: Internet user penetration in Egypt reached 48% in 2017 with an estimated number of 45 million. (Statista)
  • Mobile Users: Mobile subscribers have reached 110.06 million in September 2017. (MCIT)
  • Smartphone Users: The statistics show that 26.3 million Egyptians are using smartphones. (Statista)
  • Online Behavior: Using the internet as a search tool came on top of internet usage activities at 78%, while social communication came in second place with 77%. (eMarketing Report)
  • Google Search: The most famous search queries on Google for the year is “Results of primary certificate, World Cup draw” while the most famous figure in the search is “Mahmoud Al-Khatib”. (Google 2017 Report)
  • Local Websites: The top preferred local sites in Egypt are “Youm7.com, Albawabhnews.com, Jumia.com.eg”. The most popular categories still dominated by news and sports portals while online shopping had a major increase this year. (Alexa)
  • Facebook: 37 million Egyptians access Facebook every month with over 22 million or 59% of monthly active people return every day. (Facebook Q3 2017 report)
  • LinkedIn: The number of LinkedIn accounts estimated with 2.42 million users with a penetration rate 2.6%. 74.5% of users under the age of 35. (Arab Social Media Report 2017)
  • Twitter: On monthly average 151 million tweets generated in Egypt. Average for active Twitter users in Egypt account for 1.7 million. (Arab Social Media Report 2017)
  • Instagram: Instagram is taking over the Twitter place and becoming the 2nd popular social network for Egyptian with 2.7 million. Instagram is now the top platform for many industries such as fashion, events, and travel. (Social@Ogvily)

Egypt infographic 2017 social media yasser ahmad Infographic: Egypt Digital Report 2017

Egyptians addicted to social media

According to a new research, Egyptians are addicted to social media. More than 14 million of Egyptians are very active on social networks can’t stop posting, chatting and Liking everything in sight. Unsurprisingly the largest age group for Facebook usage is currently 18-24, followed by the users in the age of 25-34. And both sexes are logging on for their social media fix as 64% male users and 36% female users in Egypt sign in.

Internet and Mobile in Egypt

Internet user penetration in Egypt reached 48% in 2017 with an estimated number of 45 million. This share is projected to grow to 50.8% in 2018. Egypt rate is getting closer to the global Internet penetration rate which is estimated at 49.2%.(Statista Report)

Mobile subscribers have reached 110.06 million in September 2017. The telecommunication market in Egypt had two major events this year including the launch of 4G and “We” which is the 4th mobile operator. (MCIT report)

81% of internet users in Egypt cannot live internet

Internet in EgyptThe internet has become a very important platform, especially as 81% of internet users in Egypt say that they cannot live without it. Meanwhile, 87% of users explained that the most important benefit they get from the internet is having access to learning opportunities.(eMarketing Egypt published its 8th annual report “visions for e-marketing in Egypt”)

In this context, the report stated that about 64% of users are males, while females represent about 36%, with females being younger than male users on the average. The report added that the proportion of female users who are under the age of 25 represent about 51% of users.

Google Release Egypt’s “Year in Search” for 2017

Google EgyptGoogle announced on 13 December 2017, its annual Year in Search results showcasing the most trending topics Egyptians searched for the year. There are many interesting facts to explore through the lens of Google Search — from Egypt’s qualification to the 2018 World Cup, to the passing of the iconic artist Shadia, this year’s results are reflective of what truly captured the Egyptians attention over the past year.

Similar to last year, school examinations topped the most trending searches list along with the electricity bills. This was an important year for football in Egypt, with the World Cup, Al Ahly elections, African league and Mohammed Salah, sports-related queries topping the news events and general searches list. Also, four sports personalities were in the top 10 trending people list, which was topped by Al Ahly Club’s new president Mahmoud Al Khatib.

The news events list was mainly dominated by local events such as the Al Wahat Attack. Similarly, the top trending songs list was topped by Cairokee’s and Tarek El Sheikh’s Al Keif, followed by Despacito.

The following are the main research topics in Egypt in 2017: 

Top search queries in Egypt

  1. Results of primary certificate
  2. World Cup draw
  3. Musalsal silisal aldam
  4. Alkayf song
  5. Professional Academy for Teachers
  6. Egyptian Knowledge Bank
  7. Match Egypt vs Cameroon
  8. Despacito
  9. Ahli Club elections
  10. Burma

Famous figures

  • Mahmoud Al-Khatib
  • Ahmed Shafiq
  • Elissa
  • Gamila Awad
  • Abdel Salam


  • Ahli Club elections
  • Shadia’s funeral
  • Oasis Incident


  • Alkayf
  • Despacito
  • Eileab yala
  • Mizmar ebd alsalam

TV Shows

  • Silisal Aldam
  • Kafr Dehlab
  • Ramez Ttaht El’ard


  • Jawab Eietiqal
  • Hurub Etrary
  • Mawlana


  • Egypt vs Cameroon match
  • Al-Ahly vs Al-Tarji match


  • The sun will never set
  • The game of thrones

Facebook trends in Egypt


According to eMarketing 2017 report, about 92% of Facebook users in Egypt use it on a daily basis, and 60% of users asserted that the highest rates of activity came in “the late evening”.

Moreover, 92% of Facebook users use it primarily to connect with friends and family, while acquiring knowledge or getting tips and social networking comes next for about 85% of users. Interaction with friends’ posts comes at the top of Facebook users’ activities on the website, representing 62%.

The report findings declared Facebook as one of the most popular marketing tools in Egypt, and that, in turn, ‘likes’ for commercial pages are primarily for the purpose of obtaining discounts, offers, and gifts for about 33% of users. Meanwhile, following news and new content received about the same proportion of users.

Facebook, Inc. reported financial results for the 3rd quarter of 2017. The social media giant released the third quarter 2017 results on November 1, 2017. The following statistics highlight some of the top Facebook statistics in the MEA region (The Middle East & Africa):

  • Egypt: 37 million people access Facebook every month with over 22 million or 59% of monthly active people return every day.
  • According to the reports, Facebook continues to grow in the MEA region. Egypt still represents the highest daily rate for users with over 22 million users a month.

Twitter top trends in Egypt:


Twitter is becoming less popular for Egyptians with Instagram rising. Egyptians with Saudi generated more than 54% of tweets in the Arab region. Football players and media celebrities are among the most popular buzz on Twitter while political news and figures are declining this year.

  • On monthly average 151 million tweets generated in Egypt.
  • Average for active Twitter users in Egypt account for 1.7 million. (Arab Social Media Report 2017)

According to the latest report from Twitter. In 2017, the most retweeted tweets in Egypt were released by Egyptian comedian Mohamed Heneidi. During a question-and-answer session last June, a fan asked the actor how many retweets would make him start working on the 2nd episode of the movie “Se’edi fil Jama Al Amreikia”, which was answered by @OfficialHenedy with 100,000 retweets, (Reached more than 110 thousand retweets).

The Egyptian comedian Mohamed Heneidi comes with the famous football player Abu Trika as the most popular figures on Twitter during 2017. Their tweets come in the top five tweets of the year.

The most popular athletes on Twitter in Egypt

  • @ 22mosalah Mohamed Saleh, Egyptian football player
  • @Trikaoficial Mohammed Abu Trika, a former Egyptian football player
  • @Midoahm Mido, a former Egyptian football player

The most popular cultural words in Egypt

  1.  #art
  2. #photography
  3. #love
  4. #camera
  5. #music

Digital advertising in Egypt

According to eMarketing survey, about 26% of internet users in Egypt like to follow e-advertising while only about 20% trust them. 32% of internet users trust the technology sector’s electronic advertising, while 34% trust the telecommunications sector, 27% trust fashion, 62% trust home appliances, and 25% do not trust e-advertising in the financial sector.

The report explained that 10% of internet users pointed out that e-advertisements have never caught their attention.

  • The last year predictions, estimated the digital advertising spend in 2017 to exceed 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($56 million).
  • Facebook and Youtube are getting the highest increase in advertising vs search and display due to the media investment in YouTube advertising while telecommunication, real estate, and small business are focused on Facebook and Instagram.

Top digital events and news

RiseUp Summit is the top destination for Egyptian entrepreneurs

riseup summit 2017 egypt
RiseUp Summit 2017 continues to drive attention to the Egyptian Entrepreneurs. The RiseUp platform has become the leading connector between local startups and international networks, resources, and the world’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

For the second year, the RiseUp summit has sent promising local startups and their entrepreneurs to international waters, this time sending 9 to Berlin, Germany to attend Tech Open Air (TOA). The TOA is Europe’s leading interdisciplinary technology festival. This year’s 9 startups were: KiliimGoodsMartVoxEraRaknaInstabugJereedMermaidTrevxMoneyFellows.

This year’s RiseUp Explore was organized in partnership with enpact and enabled by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. Flat6Labs, Accelerator Company and the key player in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt, closed EGP 100 million funds with the support of the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation. This fund marks a significant growth for Egyptian entrepreneurs and startups that will put Egypt on the global entrepreneurship map.

Egypt launches the “World Youth Forum”

world youth forum 2017The World Youth Forum (WYF) just kicked off in the town of Sharm El-Sheikh, attracting thousands of Egyptian and foreign youth from around the world. The seven-day gathering will witness the participation of official youth representatives aging over 18 years old, leaders of various youth networks, head of states, media figures and around 250 young Egyptian expats.
The forum aims to spread a message of peace, prosperity, harmony, and progress around the world. The forum is built on four pillars and themes: 1) global youth issues, 2) sustainable development, technology, and entrepreneurship, 3) civilizations and culture, 4) creating future leaders.

NILE X: The first Egypt-made smartphone


Egypt’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has unveiled today the specifications of the first Egypt-made, Nile X, smartphone at Cairo ICT 2017. Manufactured by the Ministry of Communication-affiliated SICO Technology, the smartphone was made with 400 million Egyptian pounds in investment in the company’s factory in Assiut.

Egypt ranks 14th in 2017 Global Cybersecurity Index

Egypt has achieved a high ranking in the 2017 Global Cybersecurity Index, coming 14th out of 165 countries and second among the Arab countries. The new report highlights advances in Egypt’s cybersecurity efforts, a full range of cooperation initiatives relating to cybersecurity and a number of bi-lateral and multilateral agreements.


  • The stats and figures are collected from the most recent reports in December 2017.
  • All sources included by the statistics provided.

Kindly let me know if you have any updates to add to the report or comments. For digital marketing consulting in Egypt’s market, target segment analysis and market research, contact me to discuss the key findings and opportunities.

How To Shift Your Marketing Team Into Data-Savvy Marketers?

To stay competitive in today’s data-first world, everyone in your marketing department—marketing data analyst or not—should know how to analyze and interpret marketing data, from customer insights and performance figures to overall ROI.

Marketing is at a crossroads, and now is the time for digital to stop monitoring and dive into data to extract more efficient tactics for targeting and spending. The marketing technology, cloud computing, and machine learning are expanding beyond the expectations and the face of marketing will change before you even know it.

According to a recent survey by Econsultancy, two-thirds of marketers said their organizations do not yet have data analyst and data-related goals. The study showed that leading marketers who outperformed their KPIs appeared to have found a solution for achieving these results: Enable everyone on the team on how to be data-savvy. Nearly 60% of leaders say that in their organizations today, marketers get specialized training on how to use their data and analytics resources.

It is not the tools, it is the human

Marketers are looking now at floods of real-time data that needs to be effective in consumer segmentation, content creation, and channel proliferation. Yet, the majority of the data are currently used for just monitoring and fixing nice looking monthly reports. The big issue is not about technology and tools under your hand, it is more about the human professionals who are creating paths for this data from demanding to analysis and decision making.

The human capital skills are the most important factor in the data-driven marketing department. They are the ones who can research and decided which data is more important for the business. The more sophisticated the data you have the more dynamic your team should be. Your team should be data-savvy and data-driven in every step of strategy and execution.

Start with the head

Over the years, I have been involved in the needs of CMOs and CEOs for reports that tell nothing, usually some traditional requests for traffic, organic and social media proofs which belong to the stone ages of digital marketing. This kind of directions can be misleading for the marketing department objectives since reports are more important for the marketers themselves.

Top management should change their mentality and start learning more about the importance of data through attribution models and funnels. They should be more aware of how the proper insights from their team can change the whole assumption of consumer persona and strategy tactics.

Shift your marketing mentality

The marketing team should have two main skills, creative and analytical thinking. The old times of launching seasonal creative campaigns are already gone. Marketing now is more about science mixed with creativity. Every approach should be supported by insights, every project should have data analytics in the early stages, every achievement in KPIs should be identified by analysis, every single marketer of your team should be fully responsible with measuring and analyzing the data.

Creativity will be always playing a key role in digital marketing, but with the right analysis in place, you are able to drive the creativity cart on the right track and adjust the budget allocation more sufficiently. For more information on this topic, check my previous article: How To Shift Your Marketing Team to Data Science and Marketing Technology?

data-savvy marketers

Fix the skill gaps with your team

You will need to study your team structure and figure out their skills. Empower their skills with training modules on topics like data science, marketing technology, and automation trends. The team should master the use of CRM data, web analytics, sheets and charts. Don’t only rely on hiring data analyst who can do the magic. Your team should always have the skills of putting data insights into proper context and metrics.

75% of marketers agree that lack of training on data analytics is the biggest barrier to making more key business decisions based on data insights.

Maintain easy and reliable access to data

Before dealing with your data, make sure it’s presentable. As they say, Good data is usable data, and that means it should be always real-time, organized, secure, and understandable. Establish clear definitions and KPI metrics so everyone in digital marketing team can speak the same language.

Leaders are 33% more likely to say that their data analytics explains how the business defines and measures the consumer persona and touch points the online journey.

According to the Econsultancy survey, standing out as a point of difference between leaders and laggards is an understanding of the customer journey across channels; while an astonishing 90% of all marketers believe that understanding the cross-channel experience is “critical to marketing success,” only 43% of the mainstream report having a “clear understanding of customers’ journeys across channels and devices,” compared to 64% of leaders.

Set the standards and metrics

Set a baseline for knowledge requirements and analytics. Set proper timeframes that is effective for your business case and define the level of accuracy. Don’t just sail in the sea of tools and charts without a compass. With proper research, you can set the standards which the team should follow in their monitoring and reporting.

From my experience, too much of reports is a misleading thing. It is better to define what you really need to make a decision or otherwise you will be overwhelmed with the lovely interactive charts that data platforms provide. I also recommend to acknowledge and reward the team members who apply effective tactics based on data insights while they launch their campaigns.

Fuel the team with technology

Make sure you have the right technology needed to take action. To drive your marketing team towards a competitive edge in the market or among competitors, you need to select your technology and platforms wisely.

Based on your needs from insights and automation, define which platform you should invest in. Don’t follow the tones of advertisements online and the on-going offers from software companies. A powerful solution is not based on the brand of the software, it more based on your needs and how effectively you are going to use it on daily bases.

Your team should be always in the middle of every technology implemented. Arrange training for the whole team and get them always up-to-date with technology trends. Hire a marketing technologist in-house who can be always involved in researching an integration of technology.

With these few tips, I believe you can have an overview of this mission. If you have a question or looking for marketing analytics consultant drop me a line and let’s discuss.

How To Shift Your Marketing Team to Data Science and Marketing Technology?

Data-driven marketing has transformed from an innovative approach to a fundamental part of digital marketing, performance, automation and most importantly business strategy.

A few years ago, most of the digital marketers were more artists than scientists. Although creative thinking is one of the most required talents in the marketers but let me tell you, the future is so soon and we are getting more and more data about our customers every day.

Digital marketing is now based on the data more than before, and the need for data analytics and marketing technology is essential.

Over the course of my career in various entrepreneurial and marketing roles —in a wide variety of fields— I’ve discovered that any marketing team without advanced marketing analytics are helpless and certainly going off-track. Relying on marketing technology to extract and analyze all relevant data can help the marketing team to accomplish tasks they couldn’t before.

Collecting consumers data on every level internally and externally will allow the marketer to interact and target consumer intelligently and define the most efficient budget allocation that can bring ROI for the organization.

Marketing Analytics vs Creative

To accomplish the shift in your marketing department, you first need to change two main things:

Changing The Marketing Functions

Data science is fundamentally changing the way we view and interact with digital marketing functions inside companies. It’s had an enormous impact on the digital marketing department set of objectives and functionality within the organization. With professional data analytic team on board, you can accomplish several new tasks that you didn’t encounter before.

Let me give you a list of business tasks your data-driven marketing team can achieve:

  • Empower management and investors to make better decisions with online insights and analysis.
  • Connect business objectives more efficiently with marketing performance. You can track the marketing ROI and get the ability to invest more sufficiently in growing your customer base.
  • Identifying the customer’s persona by analyzing the online funnel and consumer journey. This can help businesses in developing their products, enhancing customer support and improving sales efforts.
  • Building data-driven approaches to reach prospects in strategic, scaled ways. Understand how we can grow is the most important topic for senior management.
  • Personalizing campaigns to generate more add value and better relation with the customers and to leverage your brand voice in the market.
  • Approaching clients effectively by highlighting products and content that solve specific customer pain points and interests which would lead to more sales.
  • Optimizing the marketing budget and advertising spend by investing efficiently and tracking intelligently (Which is a major headache for decision makers).
  • Challenging the digital marketing team to adopt best practices and focus on achieving ROI by following accurate KPIs.
  • Benefiting from AI and Machine Learning technology into the marketing department which keeps your team highly strategic and more accurate with future planning and forecasting results.

The new role of the CMO is to maximize the benefits of market and consumer data for the whole organization. Marketing is not limited anymore to attracting consumers or establishing new markets expansion, it is now a key player in building the business strategy and decision making.

Digital marketing case: The CEO is totally convinced that my digital department task is to drive qualified leads while I insisted that we can help with investing decisions. We analyzed the location-based data for many retail points and were able to come up with effective insights on where we should expand and how to customize our services for each location. The data collected from CRM, website analytics and social media trends were very effective in exploring the gaps and fixing it.  

Building new schemes for data, sharing insights and providing real-time feedback to other departments is becoming one of the most important functions of the marketing department and CMOs. It is not anymore the game of promoting services and products, but it is expanding to calculate ROI effectively and enhancing the business structure.

Changing The Marketing Mindset

Machine learning, data science, and predictive analytics are the new, increasingly crucial complements to traditional marketing best practices. But they require new technical talents on your marketing team, specialists who can bring science into each step of your marketing process. That requires a mindset shift in how you manage in marketing a data-first world.

  • Experimental Mind: A critical part of our mindset shift with using new technologies and analysis tools includes fully embracing testing and experimentation. You should put this approach to work as part of your efforts to generate leads, create a user experience and distributing your advertising budget among paid channels.Given the huge volume of performance data and the need for real-time optimization, data analytics and machine learning will become the core of your campaign success. These tools enabled us to test hypotheses and make targeting decisions at the campaign level rather than the channel level—something marketer couldn’t have accomplished manually.
  • Statistical Mind: A critical part of our mindset shift with using analytic tools includes fully embracing statistics over prejudgements. The experimentation of extracting data about your qualified leads can totally shift the way you are tailoring your content strategy or marketing message.
    Digital marketing case: Take the challenge of knowing who, of the people who sign for trial version, will convert to paid users. Typically you would need to wait weeks and different assumptions to understand which campaign was successful. Relying on likes and views might give you an indication of your most popular content but at the end ROI is ROI.  With advanced analytics and machine learning, we’re able to know the likelihood of a channel bringing in the right people to lower funnel, significantly improving ROI.
  • Technical Mind: Marketing technology tools help you make better decisions by uncovering the information relations, context and flow at a level of granularity that wasn’t possible before. However, marketing technology is getting more and more sophisticated thanks to E-commerce major demands on technology and machine learning.Back in time, digital marketing team used to rely more on creativity and no wonder the field was full of advertisers moving from traditional to digital along with the shift in the budget allocation from traditional to digital.Today, digital marketing is becoming more technology-centric which require marketers to be more solid in data science, analysis, and strategy.Yes, digital marketing teams should hire a marketing technologists who are able to configure platforms and marketers who are able to deal with complicated tools such as marketing automation platforms and programmatic advertising. Your team of marketers should combine the skills of creative thinking and advanced analytics “the marketing and the science”. This is where I see the next wave of marketing innovation.

What should we learn the most?

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about blending science and marketing:

    • Insights are more important than data: Focus on extracting the right insights that matter the most. The analytic team should be connected tightly to the business objective. Break your business needs into smaller, discrete questions. Rather than trying to drive more overall traffic to your website, for instance, focus on driving repeat visits within a particularly valuable segment.
    • Optimize the data process and availability: Capturing and managing data in a consistent manner throughout the organization. But remember that it can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you’re working across different countries and regions.
    • Focus on establishing reliable and accurate data sources: One team may input data that are incompatible with another team’s data, making it difficult to analyze both sets in consistent ways.
    • Maintain data sources and access: Focus on data integrity in how you collect, manage, and store information, you’ll avoid longer process for decision making and spending time figuring out how to compare apples to oranges.

This is my contribution, feel free to get a free ask questions or request for marketing analytics consultancy.

Infographic: The Latest Facebook Statistics For MEA – Released November 2017

Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reported financial results for the 3rd quarter of 2017. The social media giant released the third quarter 2017 results on November 1, 2017. The following statistics highlight some of the top Facebook statistics in the MEA region (The Middle East & Africa):

Facebook Statistics for MEA region

  • Daily active users: 160 million or 56% of monthly active people return every day in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Monthly active users: 285 million people access Facebook every month in the MEA region.
  • Egypt: 37 million people access Facebook every month with over 22 million or 59% of monthly active people return every day.
  • Saudi Arabia: 17 million people access Facebook every month with over 9.8 million or 58% of monthly active people return every day.
  • UAE: 83 million people access Facebook every month with over 5.9 million or 71% of monthly active people return every day.
  • South Africa: 18 million people access Facebook every month with over 10 million or 56% of monthly active people return every day.
  • Kenya: 7.8 million people access Facebook every month with over 4 million or 51% of monthly active people return every day.
  • Nigeria: 23 million people access Facebook every month with over 11 million or 48% of monthly active people return every day.

Infographic facebook statistics mea 2017

According to the reports, Facebook continues to grow in the MEA region. Egypt still represents the highest daily rate for users with over 22 million users a month. UAE has the highest rate of MEA for daily active users with 71%.

Although, the latest researchers from Northwestern University of Qatar shows that WhatsApp tops the list of social media used by nationals across the Middle East with two-thirds of nationals using it, compared to a marginally lower rate for Facebook and only one-half using YouTube. According to the study, Facebook penetration declined by 20 percentage points since 2013 (94% in 2013 to 74% in 2017), with significant drops in both Saudi Arabia. The study also found that Facebook usage increased significantly in Egypt.

Facebook Statistics for global markets

  • Global daily active users: 1.37 billion on average for September 2017, an increase of 16% year-over-year
  • Global monthly active users: 2.07 billion as of September 2017, an increase of 16% year-over-year. Instagram also hit a big milestone this quarter, now with 500 million daily actives.
  • Daily active users in USA & Canada: 185 million as of September 2017.
  • Daily active users in Europe: 274 million as of September 2017.
  • Daily active users in Asia: 476 million as of September 2017.
  • Mobile advertising revenue: Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 88% of advertising revenue for the third quarter of 2017, up from approximately 84% of advertising revenue in the third quarter of 2016
  • Capital expenditures: Capital expenditures for the third quarter of 2017 were $1.76 billion
  • Cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities: $38.29 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2017.

Download the report released for investors for more insights on Facebook revenue: Facebook Q3 2017 Results

Statistically, Facebook is becoming even bigger. According to The Social Skinny report, 50% of 18-24 year-old go on Facebook when they wake up!

What does this mean? Facebook is becoming a big part of the younger generation lives and potentially, so is the content you post on it.

The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

The hottest topics that everyone is talking about right now are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and often seem to be mysterious terms for many people.

AI and Machine learning are not quite the same, but since the majority of new trends in technology are using these terms can sometimes lead to some confusion. In this article, I thought it would be worth writing topic to explain the difference.

Since Big Data, analytics, IoT and many other waves of technology are hugely investing in enhancing the Machine Learning, I had so many questions about what it means? and why it is getting bigger and bigger every day?

The Definitions of AI and ML

The short answer for that is: “Machine Learning is an advanced application of AI based on the concept that we shouldn’t only automate the data but to let the machines learn for themselves”.

Now, what is AI? “Artificial Intelligence AI is considered as automation, it is the broader concept of machines being able to access data and carry out tasks in a way that we would consider smart”.

With understanding the basic concepts of the two methods, let’s dig further…

AI from complex calculations to decision making process

Artificial Intelligence has been around for a long time already, the idea started since the Greek myths contain stories of mechanical men designed to mimic our own actions. In modern times and after the rise of computers technology, software engineers started to move from complex calculations towards creating mechanical brains. The field of AI concentrated on mimicking human decision making processes and accomplishing tasks intelligently and more efficient.

Devices designed to use AI are often classified into one of two groups which are applied or general. Applied AI is currently more common in our daily life such as manufactories, stocks trading, autopilot systems and more. While general AIs systems can, in theory, handle different tasks or let’s say it is less common tasks. It is also the area that has led to the development of Machine Learning.AI and ML

AI and Marketing Technology

AI is already in use in a myriad of digital marketing use cases. From analytic tools, to search engine optimization, to Google AdWords to content curation, to email marketing, to marketing automation platforms, different tools are already being used as fundamentally in digital marketing sphere. Those tools are not only to make human marketers’ lives easier but to get do the tasks in more responsive and cost-effective ways. When processes are optimized and made faster by technology, not only can businesses achieve better conversions, but marketers also have more time freed up for strategic thinking, campaign design, and data analysis when they aren’t bogged down with more basic tasks.

The Rise of Machine Learning

The Machine Learning has been shaped by two important factors: Arthur Samuel in 1959 released the concept of “Instead of teaching computers all what they need to know to carry out tasks, why we don’t teach it to learn for themselves”.

Later on, the internet took control with a huge increase in the amount data being generated and stored, providing the second breakthrough for machine learning. The urge for more advanced solutions to handle the data floods was increasing rapidly.

Apparently, engineers realized that it is far more efficient to code machines to think like human beings, and then plug them into the internet to give them access to all of the information in the world.

Neural Networks

The development of neural networks was the key to start teaching machines to think while retaining the innate advantages they hold over us such as efficiency, processing speed, and lack of bias.

Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

So what are neural networks? It is a computer system designed to classify the information in the same way as our brain does. These networks can be programmed to recognize complex things such as images or voices and classify them accordingly. This coding works on a system of probability based on data fed to it. The neural networks are able to generate statements, decisions or even predictions with a degree of certainty. The magical step for those systems is the addition of a feedback loop which enables “learning” or customization of the experience.

Tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and many more, started to take advantage of machine learning to not just enhance their products but get it more advanced. Machine learning now is controlling your Facebook feeds, search engine results, Netflix recommendations, display advertising and Email spam filters.

Furthermore, another field of AI called, Natural Language Processing (NLP) has become a source of hugely exciting innovation in the last few years, and one which is heavily reliant on ML. NLP applications attempt to understand natural human communication and able to respond. This technology currently has one of the biggest competitions in products such as  Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

The Game of Marketing and Advertising

The term Machine Learning certainly gives marketing teams a shiny and attractive language to impress. The big players in digital advertising are pushing aggressively on increasing advertisers budget by developing a programmatic bidding with ML.

Machine learning

I believe the game is not that sufficient yet for many reasons, programmatic learning for platforms such as Facebook advertising and DoubleClick is still full of gaps and not doesn’t serve will with smaller budget advertisers. The machine learning is still on the producer side and heavily serving it is objectives. Although the Facebook algorithm is so advanced and presents a great value for digital marketers but yet the efficiency is not perfect in many cases.

Marketing automation and analytic platforms are still far behind when it comes to machine learning. There is still a long road to go with machine learning capabilities that can hugely shift the digital marketing once and forever. In my next article, I will investigate more in the case of machine learning for marketing and another trending buzzword – deep learning.

I hope this piece has helped a few people understand the distinction between AI and ML.

Yasser Ahmad
Digital Marketing Consultant

How Agencies Should Sell Digital Marketing Strategy to Clients

Digital marketing agencies know the pain of submitting digital marketing strategy proposals, RFPs and vying for new clients. That process is both time-consuming due to the extensive research and often ineffective, especially when the resulting contracts do not lead to long-term business deals. I consider selling digital marketing strategy to clients as one of the best ways to foster a long-term, equitable relationship.

According to Agency Spotter, more than 120,000 ad agencies exist in the U.S. market today. Digital marketers feel that in the recent past, the industry has become increasingly competitive. If your business model depends solely on one-off projects like web development or social media marketing, your agency won’t be able to compete without a stream of recurring revenue.

The key to for digital agencies is recurring revenue and the ability to provide ongoing services to existing clients. Again and again, agencies that provide digital marketing strategy or SEO services to clients survive and thrive in this competitive environment. Because, as it turns out, becoming a strategic partner for your clients comes with a number of considerable benefits and above all digital marketing ROI.

Why most of the clients won’t consider the importance of the digital strategy you are offering?

I’ve heard many agencies bragging about the fact that clients won’t pay for strategy. But that’s just one side of the issue.

The picture is incomplete! There are several critical mistakes the agencies not paying attention to:

  • I believe that when agencies have given the opportunity to put a strategist in front of a client, they only use their strategists to retro-justify an idea that the creative team has already fallen in love with. Sadly, many of those ideas have no strategic rationale, and the strategy end up as just another ‘sales pitch’. No client wants to pay for that.
  • The strategists should not focus only on justifying a broader ‘channel mix’ for the client’s marketing, or the existing competencies of the agency, or justifies activities that help the agency win new clients and awards. Putting the agency consideration first would always decrease the value of the strategy outputs for the client.
  • Agencies get caught in the trap of being production houses and “yes men” to their clients. And in turn, clients treat them like a production house. Agencies should always avoid getting stuck in that position by adding value to the business. Agencies should work on changing the perception of being project-based to strategy-based. Digital marketing strategy requires looking beyond your client’s entire marketing scope and investigate in business core, sales process, CRM management, automation, and tools in order to find ways to leverage the strategy into a solid revenue case.

How to sell the digital marketing strategy to your client?

  • Clients will only be willing to pay for strategy when the agencies show they’re willing to make strategic recommendations that don’t advance their own agenda first. Avoid the strategy that only serves your resources capacity and sales targets. The client would be only considering his business objectives, not your package.
  • Investiagte into their business objectives, structure, and process. Not all clients understand the real value of digital marketing and how it can increase the efficiency of sales and customer support. Highlight the impact of the digital marketing strategy on real-time analytics that can benefit the decision makers.
  • Business leaders are always interested in scalable tactics while expanding in local and global markets. Focus on building a strategy that is reliable for different markets and easily implemented in multilingual and multichannel environment.
  • Speak the language of numbers. Without numbers on future revenue forecasting, business ROI and advertising ROAS, your strategy will not have cost-effective benefits for business owners. The digital strategy is an investment decision for businessmen and they take the decision based on that.
  • Going from “Why” to “How” is what makes the strategy solid. Convincing your clients about the success potential of digital marketing is only the first step while providing an actionable plan with progressive KPIs is the whole point.
  • Dig deeper into the client’s business, understand the challenges, speak their terms and learn their methodology. The digital strategy should be spotting the right approach and providing real solutions to their problems.
  • Be realistic and avoid the generic details such as the importance of content marketing or the infographics about the rise of mobile marketing, we all know this stuff. Your strategy should focus on the situation and not a graphic book with fancy charts. You will have approximate 30-40 minutes to convince the business managers, so hit the point directly.

If you have a question or need to contribute with your thoughts, I will be glad to listen and discuss.

An Overview of Digital Advertising in the Middle East [Infographic]

Over the last few years, the Middle East had a small share in the global digital advertising expenditure. I made research to dig deep into the current figures and the stats of 2011 to 2017 to better understand the landscape of digital advertising in the Middle East including market trends and the status.

1) The global trends in digital advertising

According to the eMarketer report in April 2017, paid media advertising outlays worldwide will increase by 7.3% in 2017 to $583.91 billion. Growth will be roughly on par with previous estimates, and spending will rise steadily throughout the forecast period, driven by increased investments in the e-commerce industry and mobile ads. Digital will remain the fastest growing medium with 14% in 2017.

Market size: Worldwide digital ad spending will reach over $205 billion in 2017 and represent 38.3% of total paid media. The numbers are expected to see double-digit growth at least 2020, eMarketer estimates. Mobile ad spending will reach around 63.3% of digital and 24.3% of total media ad spending. Developed economies are expected to show a slowdown in investments in this sector in 2017. Counterwise, ad spend in the APAC market, followed by Latin America are showing high growth in revenue.

Digital vs TV

Digital vs TV in 2017: Several organizations and researchers also expected a new fact: For the very first time in history, with a projected $205 billion digital ad spending compared to a projected TV ad spend of $192 billion, global digital advertising spend is expected to exceed TV advertising spend in 2017. However the predictions still in process and it might vary from a market to another.

Who are the top Players? In 2017, Google and Facebook, the big two in digital advertising are expected to take more than 50% of all revenue worldwide, and more than 60% in the United States, according to research firm eMarketer. Apparently, Baidu is controlling the Chinese market while some local media networks are competing in display market share.

2) The digital advertising in the Middle East

In recent years, experts have predicted that the Middle East and North Africa will show strong growth in digital advertising. Is that true? We will be looking closely at the top trends in the region to better understand the market share and growth rates.

infographic digital advertising middle east 2017

Advertising Spending in The MENA region: According to Statista, a year-on-year timeline presents the total advertising spending in the MENA region. In 2017, the region is expected to account for 4.1 percent of the global ad spend. Ad expenditure in the Middle East and Africa would amount to 24.25 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, up from 23.1 billion a year earlier, which would constitute a  growth rate of 5%.

MENA Digital advertising stats

Growing or decreasing in 2017: However, a recent global ad spending forecast from Zenith had another opinion. According to the source, The MENA (The Middle East and North Africa) will be suffering from low oil prices. The region forecast expected a decline in ad spend (-9%) in ad spend between 2016 and 2017.

Digital Advertising vs Traditional Advertising in the MENA

Although the Middle East has a small share in the global advertising spend, the region has become a hot spot for international companies. Unlike global markets, TV has the biggest share of Ad spending while only 10% of MENA ad spend is on the digital market according to Istizada, but I believe that the shift towards digital ads is going to catch up in the coming years. GCC countries are expected to grow faster than the other markets like Egypt (which has the biggest share of TV consumers).

Digital Ad Spending in the Middle East and Africa

Digital advertising spending the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is growing in the last three years, but the growth rates are expected to slow down.

Currently, estimated at 10% of the total global Ad spend, the Middle East’s spend is expected to reach $3.80 Billion by 2017 (eMarketer report). While forecasting from ArabNet, a group of digital professionals and entrepreneurs, estimated the digital advertising spending in the Middle East and North Africa is as low as $1 billion.

*Since there are major differences in the numbers, I believe that the numbers could exceed both if we consider that there are big segments of individuals and small businesses are directly financing Facebook Ads. I have been also working with direct Ad placements on local portals and forums specialized in the financial and stocks market. The size of this market is big in the GCC but relevantly unclear when it comes to global statistics.

Digital Ad Spending MENA

Search advertising comes on top of the list with over 58% of total spending in the region. Google remains the top player in the Middle East and Africa with a huge demand on YoutTube advertising in 2017. According to agencies, YouTube Ads are generating a great increase in digital budgets which is used to be allocated to TV advertising. KSA is leading the region in the numbers of YouTube reach.

3) Digital advertising agencies in the Middle East

According to mideastmedia.org, The region has more than 500 digital agencies offering a range of services in digital marketing, most of which employ less than 15 people. Governments, consumer brands, telecommunication operators, and real estate respectively, are the largest buyers of advertising in MENA.

Egypt and the UAE are the most important economic bases for digital agencies and employees. Thanks to the increasing numbers of digital startups, Egypt represents more than half of the advertising agencies and employees in the region, due to its creative talents in content production, translation resources, low salaries, and its main role as a local content creation hub. The UAE represents 30 percent of advertising companies and employees, which benefit from its economic stability and regional headquarters. The majority of the top agencies in the UAE are international media and digital firms based in Dubai.

4) Media Buying in the Middle East

Media buying in the region represents a large-scale business, involving bulk advertising, space acquisition, and trading. The media buying unit (MBU) market, therefore, consists of fewer but much larger players who deal predominantly with larger buyers. 70 to 100% of their ad spend is sourced through MBUs. However, like advertising agencies, MBUs are typically owned by international companies. MBUs in the region tend to hold premium advertising spaces across the major platforms (60% share of digital ad spend, 70% of TV, and 50% of newspapers).

5) Programmatic Advertising in the Middle East

The stale growth is largely due to the sluggish transition from traditional to digital media ad spend. Unfortunately, with the digital Ad spending still represents only 10 percent of the total advertising market in the region, the investments in programmatic advertising is very low. Collectively, MENA countries trail other regions in innovation and adoption of new advertising and digital marketing technologies (e.g., limited digital measurement, programmatic buying, and non-advertising forms of marketing).

The programmatic advertising has been growing through the GCC region in the past years due to the growth of Dubai based digital agencies and Google partners. However, some of the biggest brands in the MENA market are heavily relying on external agencies based in London.

According to “Status of Programmatic Trading” survey, skills shortage at 39% and deeper understanding at 33% are still considered the top obstacles for its wider and faster adoption.

The region is still lacking behind when it comes to the use of advertising and marketing technologies including machine learning advertising such as Google DoubleClick as well as advanced analytic platforms such as Google Analytics Business, Adobe Marketing Cloud, and attribution models.

As a result, I believe there are many of the opportunities for digital advertising have yet to be realized, despite high levels of digital consumption in the region. There is a big room for digital agencies to tap into the Middle East digital advertising.

6) The MENA digital markets

Let’s take a look at the advertising spend in several Middle Eastern countries.

United Arab Emirates: The UAE has topped advertising spend in the GCC in the first quarter of 2017. At AED1.5 billion, it accounted for 46% of the total advertising spend in the region for the said period, according to TBWA Worldwide.

Meanwhile, digital ad spending in the UAE dropped 14% in January 2017, after rising by 21% for the first 11 months of 2016. Television remains the biggest medium for advertising in the UAE — which accounted for 3.37 billion in revenues in 2015 — and the market is seeing a decrease in some offline mediums and an increase in digital.

Turkey: Despite the firewalls and political conflicts in Turkey, digital ad expenditure is expected to grow in 2017. According to IAB Turkey AdEx-TR 2016 Report, the digital ad spend in Turkey reached TRY 1,872.4 Million with a growth rate of 13.7%.

The display ad spend grew by 11% and reached to TRY 1,059 million. In Display Ad Category, while video ad spend rises by 34% to TRY 179 million. Search Engine Ad Investments reached to 706.6 million TL. Out of 1,872 million TL of total digital ad spend, TRY 30% was invested in mobile platforms, and 64% of social media ads. In 2016, programmatic trading proceeded to grow and reached to 993 million TL.

Iran: Digital ad spending in Iran is estimated to be worth $53 million (without including social media networks), according to Adro. Though experts believe that there’s a big potential in this market due to the increasing numbers of online users and the enhancements in local ad networks. Due to financial sanctions imposed on Iran, social media advertising and Google search are not active in Iran. Only Telegram which is a messaging app/social media is accounted for almost $23.3 million in revenue in Iran.

Syria and Sudan: Sadly Facebook and Google doesn’t allow advertisers to target the Syrian and Sudanese markets. I believe that

Conclusions and Insights on digital advertising in the middle east

  • While TV advertising is still leading traditional advertising to dominate the biggest share of advertising in the region, the digital ad spending market will continue to grow in 2017 with a huge opportunity to catch-up with global market rates in the coming years. The region cannot resist the global change in advertising.
  • Clients have started demanding payment by results (ROI & Return on ad spend ROAS) as well as enhanced consumer insights and analytics. Even from creative agencies, as well as media buyers. This means the whole industry will shift into digital and sophisticated programmatic advertising which is more accountable.
  • YouTube Ads are one of the hottest trends in the GCC region which is going to attract a big share of TV commercial spending in the coming years.
  • UAE is still leading digital advertising in the MENA region. The majority of international and local brands based in Dubai are heavily spending on digital. However, the agencies are outsourcing a big chunk of technical and creative work to Egypt, Lebanese and Jordanian startups.
  • Sadly, there is still a huge gap in digital advertising efficiency in the region due to the lack of advanced tracking, programmatic technology, and skills. Some of the top brands are still relying on UK’s agencies when it comes to search engine marketing. However, there are very advanced local agencies that need to invest more in building solid capabilities in digital advertising and marketing technology.

Finally, do you have any experience in digital advertising in any of the Middle East and Africa region? Send me your comments.

How to build an effective Arabic Digital Marketing Strategy

Reaching the right audiences with the right messaging is the core of your Arabic digital marketing strategy.

What if you need to reach the target audience in the Middle East? Localization is one of the essential keys to hijack any market, but most importantly you should come up with an Arabic digital marketing strategy for the local markets in the region. Eventually, most of the international marketers would come up with basic steps as Arabic website translation and maybe a social media profile in Arabic. While such initial steps are highly important, but it is still not going to help in increasing the online acquisition and conversion rate.

Digital marketing in the Middle East is becoming more challenging and highly competitive just like any marketplace. Without an effective strategy, your digital ROI will be always disappointing! Even though, I wouldn’t recommend any paid advertising such as Arabic PPC or Facebook advertising before getting things right and starting with the basic foundation of performance.

There are few basic steps for any successful campaign in the Middle East marketplace:

  • Conduct a Market research: Avoid treating the whole region as one market and start packaging your Arabic campaigns to broad segments all over the countries. Arabic audiences are slightly or largely different and you need to learn how and why.
  • Get the Competitive analysis: Your competitors might have a solid digital marketing foundation in these markets. Discover what they do and their tactics in each country to understand the gap. Learn how to compete and where before you take any steps.
  • Understand the Localization: Customize your messaging, visuals, social media and Arabic SEO based the facts that the Arabic language has so many dialects, cultures and traditions might vary from a region to another. Moreover, English campaigns could much effective in some countries such as UAE and with B2B businesses.
  • Divide and Conquer: Don’t set all your budget for the same market. Track your conversion rate and update the budget for each market/segment accordingly. Don’t stash all the money in one campaign targeting all while thinking it is one market. Learn from the analytics and divide the region into separate segments.
  • Build a Successful Funnel: Building your online funnel properly requires a great attention to organic as the cornerstone of every conversion. Invest in a long-term strategy to achieve a successful rate of organic results using Arabic SEO, Optimized Arabic channels on social media, strong brand identity and voice.

In conclusion: The Arabic digital marketing strategy could serve your strategic goals if you consider the market properly. Arabic website translation or PPC keywords/Ads translation is not the only key to gain results in this emerging market. To build an enhanced strategy you need to treat the market with different customized tactics and proper analysis for each segmentation. Focus on effective market research and organic results as one of your main tasks before you allocate any advertising budgets.

For consultation and Arabic digital marketing strategy, contact me to discuss your objectives and vision.