Twitter announced yesterday that it has started selling advertising services in the Middle East and North Africa after users in the region tripled over the past year. The microblogging platform will work with Cairo-based agency Connect Ads to market its sales products across the region.
While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Connect Ads will lead sales of promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends, the microblogging platform’s three advertising products, in the region. Before yesterday’s launch in the Middle East and North Africa, the product suite was available only in the U.S., U.K., Japan and Latin America. Twitter selected Connect Ads as its sales rep in the region back in November, when it was announced that the agency will manage all sales in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Twitter vice president of international operations Shailesh Rao said at a press conference in Dubai that “when we decided we wanted to prioritize in the Middle East region it was principally because we had a large user base here and was growing rapidly. The active user base in the Middle East has tripled in the last year. It’s one of the fastest growing regions in the world.”
The Middle East-North Africa region (MENA) is a very important one for the company. In a statement, Twitter cited the Arab Media Outlook report, prepared by Deloitte and the Dubai Press Club in 2012. The report said digital advertising is the fastest growing media platform and accounted for 4% of total advertising spending in 2011. Deloitte says digital advertising spending in the region will grow at an annual rate of 35% over the next three years to $580 million by 2015.
According to the Arab Social Media report, Arabic is the fastest growing language in Twitter history. There were more than 2M active Twitter users in the Arab region at the end of June 2012, who generated 172.5M tweets in March 2012.
Twitter’s announcement comes two days after reports suggesting that Twitter is now valued at $9 billion after early employees sold $80 million in shares to a fund managed by BlackRock. Bloomberg speculated that the company may be prepping for an IPO by lining up buyers for shares to limit pressure on Twitter’s valuation after post-IPO “lockups” on shares are lifted and employees start selling stock.