eMarketer estimates the number of internet users in the Middle East & Africa rose by almost 20% in 2012 and will see similar advances this year. But penetration is still the lowest in the world, on average, because high usage in some countries is counterbalanced by very low use in others. Ipsos MediaCT noted that the UAE registered 75% penetration in 2012 and Saudi Arabia 60%, while Egypt reached just 26%—and even that was among only respondents in better-connected urban areas.
Rising mobile penetration is boosting web access, though. When the Dubai School of Government surveyed people across the region in March 2013, more than 60% said they used a laptop or desktop to access the internet. But 36% said they went online with a smartphone, while 25% and 24% logged on via feature phone or tablet, respectively.
With digital advertising, too, Middle East & Africa is beginning to make up for low spending levels in the past. The market is ripe for expansion: Digital ad spending will reach $1.35 billion this year, just over 1% of the $117.60 billion worldwide total. But across the region, expenditure by advertisers on digital platforms will leap by more than 47% in 2013, eMarketer estimates—nearly four times the global average of 13.0%.
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