ActiveMedia ready to set up shop to serve region

The US-based ActiveMedia will open an office in the UAE to help companies in the region raise their online profile.

One of the world's oldest internet marketing companies will open an office in the UAE as early as next month to tap into the growing demand among companies in the region to raise their online profiles. ActiveMedia, a search engine optimisation (SEO) company based in the US that was founded in 1995, is putting the final touches on opening an office in Dubai Internet City or in Abu Dhabi to establish a permanent presence in the region, said Jason Moore, the company's head of the GCC and Levant.

"Time is a crucial variable in the search business," he said. "The more you wait, the more likely some other company will do something to take your market share away from you." SEO is used to raise the ranking of a website in the lists produced by online searches. The practice can often be more cost effective than purchasing online advertising, as Web users tend to click on the first few links of a list of search results, so companies want their link close to the top.

Although there are other SEO companies in the UAE, ActiveMedia can work on improving the rankings of Arabic websites because it can distinguish between queries in different dialects of the language, Mr Moore said. "Marketing is more effective in search engines because you're giving people what they want when they want it," he said. "It can be more effective than taking out an ad in a newspaper because it is a targeted environment."

ActiveMedia was founded by Laszlo Horvath and Michael Rockefeller after they developed the early strategy behind America Online, then the largest internet service provider in the US. Since then, ActiveMedia has survived the burst of the dot-com bubble and emerged as one of the top SEO companies in the world. Mr Moore said that while companies in the country were beginning to understand the value of SEO, Dubai firms had tightened their marketing budgets, leading to a scarcity of opportunities.

"But the media hub for the whole region is in Dubai, so that's why we're thinking of coming here," he said.