Mar 18 2012
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Lebanese firm opens doors to a new world of advertising
So how fast is the online world changing? Well, the number of Internet users in the Middle East has increased from 3 million in 2000 to around 77 million today, of which 18 million are on Facebook, according to Internet World Stats.
In the past year alone, the number of Facebook users tripled in Algeria, doubled in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and increased 75 percent in the United Arab Emirates, according to an analysis by Omnicom Media Group (OMG). Advertisers have been among the first species to take note of the sea change in consumer behavior and realize the value of the increasing attention online.
Ahead of the wave
ELM offers several other services, such as social media marketing (which includes managing the online presence of a customer) and display advertising: the acquisition of media space, planning campaigns and search engine optimization.
ELM's founders believe that they have now reached an inflection point and in order to grow further they need more capital, and thus are seeking a strategic investor to fuel expansion. Badine and Dfouni estimate their company's value to be at least $3 million.
"Our objective is to position ourselves as the regional leaders in digital marketing solutions whereby international brands would come to us to market their brands in the region and regional brands would come to us to market their brands both regionally and internationally," says Badine. ELM is considering several options: venture capitalists (VCs), angel investors and another round of 'family and friends financing', though "we are in that spot where we are a bit too large for smaller VCs and too small for larger ones," remarks Badine.
As the Middle East becomes ever more wired and the number of users who are 'Facebooking' and 'Tweeting' increase, the prospects for the nascent digital marketing industry seems abundant. ELM has been one of the early movers in this space but their future expansion in a fast changing industry will depend on their securing strategic capital.
© Executive 2012
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