Google's new tool for region

Information about internet usage in the region is traditionally been scarce. But Google has just launched a free online tool featuring data from five of the biggest markets in the region which will help companies expand their web presence.

Google has launched a free tool to help companies learn about the media habits of consumers in the Middle East.

Insights MENA, which will officially launch on Monday, started out as a project to help Google to find out more about internet usage in the region.

"We make decisions based on data," said Najeeb Jarrar, the head of marketing for Google Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

But research on the topic was scarce.

"If such data exists it's usually like a guarded secret. Companies don't give it out and when they do it's such a thick document of over 100 pages and 100 slides as well," he said.

"It's not a good user experience for businesses or consumers who want to use this data."

So Google commissioned ACNielsen, a global research firm, to survey 1,500 people in the five biggest markets in the region - Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

However, Google was not sure what to do with the data at first.

"We wanted to position that this is the way data should be for the Middle East. Data should be shared," Mr Jarrar said.

"At the same time we didn't want to be boring."

Insights MENA presents data for each country in an interactive style. Users can search for data about topics such as internet usage and then break it down into further categories.

"We wanted to give it in a more informative way so users can go in and search parameters and then display them to extract exactly the data they wanted," Mr Jarrar said.

Businesses will benefit most, especially those that want to go online or expand their web presence, he said.

"If they want to find out more about penetration of internet in a certain country or age group they can, but it can also be something a little more complicated, like internet consumption of females aged 18 to 24 and compare that with Egypt and Jordan," he says.

The technology has been trialled by companies including Emirates Airline in the UAE. "It was hugely appreciated," said Mr Jarrar.

"This data was not available. People would make random guesses."

Google insists the content will remain free and it has no intention of making any money out of the project.

The data will be updated regularly, it said.

Published: August 12, 2011 04:00 AM


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