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As a tiny country located within the vast Middle East and Africa region, metrics on Israel’s internet tendencies and ad spending can get lost amid depressed regional statistics. But Israel actually shows levels of internet penetration and engagement much more in line with mature markets in North America and Europe. With its strong economy, growing high-tech sector and close ties to the US, it’s a country where publishers and advertisers are likely to find a highly engaged, and receptive, audience.
According to July data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Israel had a user penetration of 70% in 2011, close to eMarketer's estimate of 74% penetration in the US. By comparison, the Middle East and Africa had a regional internet penetration of 13.6% the same year.
But aside from having a significant percentage of its population online, where Israel really stands out is in its users' engagement.
Internet users in the country spent an average of 31.8 hours online in March 2012, ranking Israel sixth in the world in terms of usage, according to comScore World Metrix. Moreover, internet users in Israel spent more time online than on any other media—a 38% share for the desktop internet vs. 29% for TV, according to September 2011 data from Google and Shiluv Millward Brown. Adding in mobile internet usage, time spent online accounted for nearly half of users’ media time.
And social networking appears to be one of the main activities keeping people in Israel online. In December 2011, Israel ranked third in the world for the amount of time users spent social networking: 10.1 hours that month, according to comScore.
Oddly though, despite the high levels of internet engagement and penetration, internet ad spending in Israel is low. According to ZenithOptimedia, internet spending in the country was $213 million in 2011, and population and size alone do not account for the low dollar figure.
Adjusting for the number of internet users in the country, internet spending was approximately $40 per internet user in 2011, thirteen times higher than eMarketer’s estimate of the regional average in the Middle East and Africa, but way behind North America and Western Europe, and still less than the $43 spent on average on each internet user around the globe.
For advertisers moving into the market in Israel, the low internet ad spend may also mean that there is an inexpensive point of entry.
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