Back in August 2013, our Dubai office met with the first representative of Yahoo! advertising in the MENA region ahead of their imminent launch in the area. Yahoo! announced its acquisition of the Maktoob social network back in 2009 and has since expanded as a web service business, not only in the UAE, but across the Gulf Region. With a base in the region, Yahoo! – who partnered with Bing back in 2009 – has the platform to bring their advertising solution to the market.

The partnership is a continuation of a global agreement. Bing are responsible for the organic search results as well as providing the platform for all advertisers. In addition, they support the advertising needs of all small and medium sized advertisers in the region. Yahoo meanwhile is focused on providing agency and large/premium advertiser support – typically multinationals and agencies.

For the initial paid search release, the network is focusing on search only and planning a ‘slowly but surely’ roll-out approach throughout Q3.  By the end of the quarter, there should be a full roll out and text ads should be being served on the network.

Initially, the products will be limited to plain text adverts, although plans for sitelinks and advert extensions are in the works. Adverts will be available in both Arabic and English and the initial release will allow targeting for Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan. This multi-region targeting will allow multinational advertisers to test the service on a like for like comparison with their other advertising solutions.

The initial test period should end in August at which point we’ll be keen to see what impact this new service can have for our clients in the region. Whilst Google will remain the market leader in the region, it will be interesting to see the demographic and geographical split of users. Ideally this will leave us with some strategic decisions to make for our clients.