“We are a global company that operates locally”. I’m sure you have seen this statement more than once, however this has been a key point of success at Kimia, and MENA is one of those regions where this is particularly true.
For companies outside of the region, MENA can be perceived as complex in terms of business partnerships and social engagement. However, it is also quite a profitable region for CPA marketing due to the smartphone penetration which is, in some cases larger than the actual population, in particular in wealthier regions in GCC. Additionally, in regions where there is less acquisition power and 3G/4G is rather recent, there is still a “novelty” aspect that has led to a booming industry.
Therefore we have just spent a few weeks visiting the region to meet and develop our partnerships with direct local advertisers and partners. Our talks have been focused on the current markets needs, both giving our feedback and receiving advice, but also creating lines of communication to make sure that any future “changes or needs” are met with efficiency and that we continue to be a strong, respectable and stable option for our affiliates in MENA.
We’d like to share some of our insights and vision to help others navigate the region.
MENA is divided in two markets: GCC which is made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, and the rest of the 14-20 countries (depending upon your source) in MENA, that have their own individual ways of “working”. Its significant to say that some of the major carriers, like Ooredoo, have big shares in various geos within MENA and GCC, though the majority of the CPA affiliate market is focused in the GCC region due to operator billing capabilities and higher ARPU of users. This higher ARPU is achieved by a more complex subscription flow and high quality content.
We have spent the last year testing offers and traffic in the region to understand the user psychology and found that the key to MENA, right now, is “content quality”. Users in these regions value quality and premium content. If the banners, LPs and products are “cared for” the ARPU can be very high. We also like to help partners take initiative in these “less penetrated” markets, as many think that there might be a language barrier when optimizing LPs etc, and that isn’t so. Due to the amount of expat communities in these areas, english works as well as, or even better, than arab. Only in IR should you focus more on the local language, Farsi.
One of the looming questions in the market is whether the market will move to pin-submit billing flows, despite most operators having header enrichment technology. As a region that largely provides 1-2 click billing flows this would mean higher payouts, but also lower conversions.
There is also speculation over carrier regulations. Recently the vetting of publishers as well as advertisers has made it a more difficult market for affiliates to maintain positive ROI.
From Kimia´s past experience in markets that have gone through similar changes, these changes don’t necessarily mean a “closing or decrease” of the market. In fact, if you are well prepared and have strong relationships it’s possible to experience growth even under possible new terms. We have had this situation in India which went through market regulations in 2014 and still remains our top market due to our embedded interest, local team, relationships and local knowledge.
Partnering with a network that has strong relationships and a solid reputation is more important than ever in order to gain access to the most profitable offers. Having access to an ample selection of quality offers ensures you have a plan B if there are shifts in the region.
However, Kimia´s 10 years experience in the online advertising industry leads us to speculate that this could be a “time sensitive” market and we recommend affiliates who wish to test out the region to do so now, within the current market. Why wait and speculate on “what will come”? The best option is to partner with a company that provide stable products for testing, which is respected in the market and above all is not blacklisted, as MENA has a strict business policy. Kimia can provide all of this.