Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, Al Riyadh, Al Rroya, Al Youm Al-Sab'ea, Arab youth, Arab Youth Survey, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, egypt, forbes, Ipsos, middle east, Pew Research center, Rusiya Al-Yaum, Russia Today, Saudi Arabia, Tablets, The National, TNS
Understanding traditional media online in the Middle East
Friday 12 April 2013, 12:23
In terms of websites relating to newspapers, by far the largest is Al Youm Al-Sab’ea in Egypt. Between August 2011 and August 2012, its website attracted 842.84 million visits and 145.11 million unique visitors. These figures dwarf the region’s next largest newspaper site, Al Riyadh, from Saudi Arabia, which enjoyed 123.94 million visits and 35.52 million uniques.
Given the size of Egypt’s population (see graphic, although this excludes large parts of rural Egypt) and it’s relatively small but growing internet population, it is not unreasonable to expect that many of the visitors to the Al Youm Al-Sab’ea website are from outside of the country. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see whether much of the site’s growth comes from more Egyptians coming online or if its fastest growing audience will be a mixture of the Egyptian diaspora and other Arabic-language speakers across the region, if not the globe.
Forbes’ data also shows that some of the region’s smallest newspapers are enjoying the highest growth in terms of attracting new audiences. Oman’s Al Rroya, which ranked last on the overall list of top newspapers online, nonetheless enjoyed the highest percentage of new visits, at 67.11%. Similarly, The National, from the United Arab Emirates, which ranks 15th overall, came second where new visits are concerned, with newcomers accounting for 60.76% of total traffic.
In terms of TV news channels, given the international profile of Al Jazeera, it may come as a surprise to learn that the Qatar-based operator’s website isn’t the most visited in the region. That honour falls to UAE’s Al Arabiya (pictured top), which had 306.63m online visitors and 69.05m uniques between August 2011 and August 2012 (the latest dates for which fully published data is available).
However, Al Jazeera - with 277.89m visits and 55.71m uniques during this period – can draw comfort from the fact that users of its website spent longer online than they did on rival sites, at 10 minutes and four seconds. This is quite long for a news website, even if the average number of pages, 3.49, is not. This suggests a high level of immersion with content once viewers visit the site. It’s a level of engagement many rivals would without doubt love to see replicated.
But perhaps the real surprise is the rapid growth of Rusiya Al-Yaum (a Moscow-based Arabic version of Russia Today). According to Google analytics data, over half of the visitors to its website during the study period were new to the site. This was the highest ratio amongst the three online TV channels.
It will be interesting to see how usage of these sites evolves. Usage of smartphones, social networks and tablets continues to grow in the region.
Certainly based on current evidence, the impact of some of these changes is affecting news consumption differently to in the West. In terms of tablets, for example, instant messaging, video calls or taking photographs dominate tablet usage in the Middle East. As the research agency TNS recently noted: “While tablets are extra leisure devices in North America, in Latin America they have a more business-oriented role, whereas in the Middle East and North Africa people like their social features.”
In contrast, a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center of news use on mobile devices in the US – in collaboration with the Economist Group – found that “for many people, mobile devices are adding to how much news they consume. More than four in 10 mobile news consumers say they are getting more news now and nearly a third say they are adding new sources.”
Yet, as Forbes’ data shows, online news consumption is growing in the Middle East. It may simply be that audiences in the region prefer to consume it differently. Tablets lend themselves more to long-form, immersive news experiences. People in the Middle East and North Africa, a region where TV news still dominates, often consume online content via their mobile – a format much more suited to short-form news.
A recent presentation by Ipsos showed that ‘News and feeds’ is the top downloaded smartphone application in four of the six countries it surveyed, and that it was also the top online mobile content in most of these countries.
Finally, there’s also the question of social media, especially among young Arabs. The fifth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which was published this week, reported how this group is increasingly getting its news from social media, with trust in websites and social media as reliable news sources having risen sharply in the past year. As with news outlets in the West, these are platforms which media players in the Middle East have no option but to engage with unless they want to leave a generation of news consumers behind.
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This is a cross post from Digital Qatar, a blog for technology enthusiasts launched by ictQATAR in 2009 with the purpose of providing a platform for genuine thought and conversation in Qatar around everything ICT.
Digital Digest, Volume 2
by Damian Radclife · July 18, 2012
Last month we published our first Digital Digest, a round-up of the very latest digital trends and developments impacting Qatar and the MENA region. That edition has been viewed over 1,200 times in the past four weeks.
Thank you to everyone who read and shared it.
A lot has happened in the intervening month, from the launch of new tablets by Google and Microsoft, through to the publication of a range of new research about mobile and Internet use.
It was revealed that Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s fastest-growing marketpercentage-wise month on month and the network was also home to a campaign - #UAEDressCode – which provoked heated discussion across a range of social networks.
Meanwhile, French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) launched its iPad app in Arabic and Turkish based games company, Peak Games, became the world’s No. 3 social-gaming company in terms of daily active users. Are you one of their 9.4m daily players?
Finally, with Ramadan fast approaching, a designer from the U.K. has created a prayer mat, known as EL Sajjadah, that lights up when it faces Mecca. We would be interested to know what Digital Qatar readers make of the idea.
As always, please feel free to share these slides. You can email the link, tweet about specific stories or embed the full slides on your own site (NB, from here). We would also love comments and suggestions for future editions too, so feel free to contribute below.
Thanks for reading and Ramadan Kareem.
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Here’s a copy of my recent post on the superb Online Journalism Blog. As ever, a big thanks to Paul Bradshaw for encouraging me to post and giving me the opportunity to share my hyper-local research with a wider audience.
In this guest post Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe cross-publishes his latest presentation on developments in hyperlocal publishing for September-October, and highlights how partnerships are increasingly important for hyper-local, regional and national media in terms of “making it pay”.
When producing my latest bi-monthly update on hyper-local media, I was struck by the fact that media sales partnerships suddenly seem to be all the rage.
In a challenging economic climate, a number of media providers – both big and small – have recently come together to announce initiatives aimed at maximising economies of scale and potentially reducing overheads.
At a hyperlocal level, the launch on 1st November of the Chicago Independent Advertising Network (CIAN), saw 15 Chicago community news sites coming together to offer a single point of contact for advertisers. These sites “collectively serve more than 1 million page views each month.”
These moves – bringing together a range of small scale location based websites – can help address concerns that hyper-local sites are not big enough (on their own) to unlock funding from large advertisers.
CIAN also aims to address a further hyper-local concern: that of sales skills. Rather than having a hyperlocal practitioner add media sales to an ever expanding list of duties, funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the Knight Community Information Challenge allows for a full-time salesperson.
Big Media is also getting in on this act.
In early November Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL agreed to sell each other’s unsold display ads. The move is a response to Google and Facebook’s increasing clout in this space.
Reuters reported that both Facebook and Google are expected to increase their share of online display advertising in the United States in 2011 by 9.3% and 16.3%.
In contrast, AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo are forecast to lose share, with Facebook expected to surpass Yahoo for the first time.
Similarly in the UK, DMGT’s Northcliffe Media, home to 113 regional newspapers, recently announced it was forging a joint partnership with Trinity Mirror’s regional sales house, AMRA.
This will create a commercial proposition encompassing over 260 titles, including nine of the UK’s 10 biggest regional paid-for titles. Like The Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL arrangement, this new partnership comes into effect in 2012.
These examples all offer opportunities for economies of scale for media outlets and potentially larger potential reach and impact for advertisers. Given these benefits, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see more of these types of partnership in the coming months and years.
Damian Radcliffe is writing in a personal capacity.
Other topics in his current hyperlocal slides include Sky’s local pilot in NE England and research into the links between tablet useand local news consumption. As ever, feedback and suggestions for future editions are welcome.