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Ajeeb.com predicts online ad boom

These are lean times for online advertising in the Middle East right now, but Ajeeb.com is predicting huge growth in the coming five years.

A new report from Ajeeb.com, a leading Arab Web portal, predicts that the value of online advertising in the Arab world will reach $70 million by 2005.

Ajeeb said that the value of online advertising in the Arab world last year was a mere US$2.5 million, however. For spending to reach the levels Ajeeb is talking about, spending would have to practically double year on year between now and 2005.

“While the recent wave of dot-com failure in the United States has slowed down the growth of the online advertising market in the US, the nascent Middle East market has the advantage of being fresh and capable of being shaped,” argues Abdul Kader Kamli, general manager and editor-in-chief of Ajeeb.com. “Though the regional online advertisement market is rather small at the moment, we will see this market growing by 60 percent to 100 percent [anually] in the coming five years.”

One of the reasons for that predicted growth will be the increase in the sheer number of Internet users, Ajeeb says. Ajeeb.com Research Unit predicts the online user base will reach 25 million in 2005 from the present 3.5 million users.

“Advertisers follow audiences, and since audiences are moving online, advertisers will only follow them,” says Kamli. “This will present a host of new business opportunities.”

Ajeeb admits that online’s share of the region’s overall ad spending remains minimal — only 0.1% at present. And even though massive growth is being predicted, its share of overall spend will remain modest for the foreseeable future. “Despite the growth, online advertising in the region will not pose a serious threat to traditional advertising media in the next five years,” says Kamli.

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