Google partners with Waseet to target small businesses

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Google has partnered with a regional classifieds firm in an attempt to sell more advertising to small businesses in the Middle East.

The US internet giant has formed an alliance with Waseet, through which it will sell its 'AdWords' advertising, which is displayed next to search results.

Waseet is a classified advertising magazine with a claimed circulation of 6 million copies a week, and which also has an online presence.

Waseet will now sell AdWords advertising on behalf of Google, said Ari Kesisoglu, Google's regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

"If you are a small company with $1 or $100 advertising budget, you can make use of it," he said.

The partnership covers Egypt, Kuwait, KSA, Lebanon and the UAE, Waseet said in a statement.

Google has one other AdWords partner in the region, but Mr Kesisoglu said this was the first to cover small businesses over multiple markets. He said Google was open to other partnerships in the region.

Anas Abbar, the general manager for the online division at Al Waseet International - which owns the Waseet brand - said few small and medium-sized businesses in the Mena region have an online presence.

"What we're trying to do is enabling those small and medium businesses to go online," he said.

Part of this involves encouraging the use of Google's advertising, and "opening up the cyberspace to those small businesses," said Mr Abbar.

"We have become Google's AdWords partner in these markets," he said. "We're selling Google AdWords to those smaller businesses."

Currently, the region's smaller businesses are not featured prominently online, said Mr Abbar.

"When I [search for] 'plumbers in Dubai', there is no guarantee that I'll actually end up with a service that provides plumbing services in Dubai," he said.

"You might end up with a large company that provides that service, because they have created an online presence. But for small and medium businesses, they are not on the grid at all."

Digital advertising currently accounts for just 6 per cent of the Arab world's estimated $4.9 billion ad market, according to the Arab Media Outlook, which was published in April in collaboration between the Dubai Press Club (which is run by Maryam bin Fahad) and Deloitte.

However, this is forecast to grow to 10 per cent by 2015, when the total market will be worth $6 billion, according to the study.