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Tue 7 Jun 2011 01:23 PM

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Yahoo wins boost from Arab Spring revolts, says CEO

Internet search engine saw 3 million new users on Egypt site in period to March

Yahoo wins boost from Arab Spring revolts, says CEO
Yahoo logo, Yahoo generic

US internet search engine Yahoo Inc saw three million new users on its Egypt news page in January and March as political unrest swept across the country, its CEO said Tuesday.

The world’s second most popular search engine is ramping up investment in the region as it looks to increase its marketshare, Carol Bartz said in a speech in Dubai.

“We saw user numbers from this region go up as the events there [in Egypt] unfolded. Between January and March, three million new users came to our new site in Egypt,” she said.

“The whole world was watching what was happening in Egypt earlier this year.”

Yahoo, which in 2009 acquired the Middle East web portal Maktoob for $164m, has seen its combined reach in the region grow from 30 million unique users to 50 million, said Bartz.

The owner of the US’ largest search portal claims a 40 percent marketshare in display advertising in the Middle East and North Africa and is seeing its digital advertising spending increase an average of 25-30 percent each year, Bartz said.  

“This is a more than 60 percent increase in just 18 months and I want to have the next 50 million come online as Yahoo users as well,” she said. “We envision the online ad market in the MENA to reach at least 5-6 percent of the total ad market by 2015.”

Yahoo is looking to grow its Arabic content from one to five percent and will do so through the introduction of specific Arabic content and hiring of new staff. “We’re also hiring more writers, bloggers and editors to make our original content in Arabic broader and richer,” said Bartz.

“This month we plan to roll out our Yahoo! homepage for mobile in both Arabic and English. Also look for mobile versions of our media properties, like news and sports.”

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