LinkedIn launches its first Middle East office in Dubai

LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network – announced the opening of its first Middle East office in Dubai today. With an office in Dubai Internet City (an information technology park), LinkedIn will be focusing on selling its hiring and recruitment solutions to firms in the Middle East. Its marketing solutions and advertising sales will be continued to be handled by Dubai Media City based Clique Media.

Hiring Solutions has been LinkedIn’s key revenue driver accounting for 53% in second quarter of 2012, while Marketing Solution accounted for 28%, and Premium subscriptions accounted for 19% (Source: LinkedIn Earnings).

Despite not being available in Arabic, LinkedIn has a strong presence in the Middle East. There are over 4.7 million registered users on LinkedIn in the Middle East, of which 2.5 million are in the GCC, and around 1.1 million in the UAE.

Disclosure: I work for Clique Media which has been handling LinkedIn’s marketing solutions and advertising sales in MENA since 2010.  LinkedIn’s revenue split has been taken from their earnings calls while their member count has been taken from their publicly available Ads tool.  

 

 

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Gaming is serious business at GAMES12

Aah to be young and in the middle of a bossfight again!

GAMES12

Step into GAMES12 and you would be forgiven for believing you’re in a world far more magical than one Walt Disney himself could ever create – well at least so if you had the slightest interest in video games. The largest video game festival in the region was held on the weekend gone by at DFC in Dubai, and has attracted crowds from all over the GCC. Jointly organized by Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation Division, Red Entertainment Distribution, and Pluto Games (collectively called Gaming Alliance Middle East – GAME. Geddit?) is in its 5th year running and has quickly become the highlight event for the gaming community.

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Google releases turn by turn navigation on Android phones in the Middle East and North Africa

It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. Google has finally enabled turn by turn navigation using Google Maps on Android phones in the UAE.  It was late last year that public transit information was made available on Google Maps, and you’ve also been able to get directions and map routes on Google maps for a while now. Now with voice assisted navigation, your Android phone becomes a full fledged GPS device.

In addition to navigating to search results in Google Maps, the dedicated Navigation app (which is likely to be pre-installed on your Android phone) lets you type in or ’speak’ a destination. The engine powering Navigation is the same one that powers Google Now and all other things voice recognition on Android. Not only does it do an amazing job of recognizing what you’re saying, but the speech output is extremely natural too.

Navigation also lets you select a friend right from the app and navigate to their place – provided you or they have input their address.

It’s great to see Google show some love to the region.

 Update – The roll-out is actually for the entire Middle East and North Africa. Link to Press Release here

 

 

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Competing at the Dubai Young Lynx

For those unaware, Dubai Lynx is one of the biggest creative advertising festival across the Middle East and North Africa. The conference and forum consists of speakers from across the world discussing trends in advertising, creative, technology and media across 4 days. The event concludes with an awards show honouring the best in various categories – including  Radio, Print, Outdoor, Digital, Mobile and more.

A small component of the festival is the Young Lynx Integrated Competition. As part of the competition, teams of up to three participants (below the age of 30) compete to prepare and present an integrated communication and media plan. Teams are given roughly 30 hours to prepare the plan in line with a brief – this year it was the Angel Appeal, and its support vessel, the Flying Angel

We (Clique Media) participated in the competition this year with a team comprising of myself, Soham Bhagnari (@sohamb), and Kunal Chandak (@chandak_kunal). It was a really good learning opportunity for all of us as we were required to modify our thinking process drastically; we went from just media planning (which is currently a large portion of our role) to integrated communication planning. We went from strategy to conceptualization and finally execution.

Although we were extremely happy with our idea – that spanned across print (newspaper & magazine), ambient, SMS, Mobile Web and social, the judges seemed to think otherwise. Of course we were a little biased :)

Nevertheless, we saw some stellar work from all the participants and congratulations to the winning teams of Aegis Media, Wunderman and Team Y&R. We’re coming for you next year.

Image Courtesy: Farrukh Naeem

 

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Moderating the Mobile Marketing, Commerce and Apps table at Digital Cream Day Dubai

In February, Econsultancy hosted their annual Digital Cream Day at the Westin Mina Seyahi. The global versions of the event have been around for a few years but it was only the second year for the Dubai one.

The event aims to bring together client side marketers and provide a platform for discussion on all things digital marketing. In contrast to all the conferences we’ve seen and attended, the event facilitates a dialogue between the marketers as opposed to having a speaker speak at the audience. That’s not to say one is better than the other but in this setup the discussions gives result to some excellent insights on the pains and the pleasure of the marketers.

I was asked to moderate the Mobile Marketing, Commerce and Apps table at the event and I jumped at the chance of it. In a region where mobile penetration is above 100%, it was going to be interesting to see how marketers were adopting and adapting to this still very nascent medium.

I’ve penned down some key points of discussions from the three tables through the day on the Econsultancy blog. The two key takeaways – first marketers are still spread across the spectrum with some just getting started while others having rolled out advanced strategies; secondly iOS (unsurprisingly) remains a dominant platform, but Blackberry – despite its pervasiveness – is not considered optimal.

Read my post on the Econsultancy blog for more insights from the day.

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