Predictions 2016: Facebook MENAP managing director Jonathan Labin - Gulf Business
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Predictions 2016: Facebook MENAP managing director Jonathan Labin

Predictions 2016: Facebook MENAP managing director Jonathan Labin

Businesses must make the shift to mobile rapidly, writes Labin

For Facebook, it has been a big year. We are no longer a social media company but a technology company. Our mission is to connect the world. As Mark Zuckerberg says, we are focussed on innovating and investing for the long term to serve our community and connect the entire world.

We want these investments to create valuable experiences for our community and the world.

At the centre of this experience lies mobile devices and creative content – which together are leading to the creation, discovery and sharing of content. People are creating incredible content and it is coming to life on our phones. We have shifted from text, to images to video. This shift has been more visible in the Middle East and North Africa region, particularly due to the rapid adoption of mobile devices and the passion people here have for storytelling through video.

We have over 114 million Facebook monthly active users in the MENA region and more than 100 million of these come from mobile devices. The region is well positioned to define how the world connects in the years to come. The mobile device has evolved from a simple texting and talking device into a hub with apps for everything – music listening, video viewing, image capturing, socialising, discovering, researching, shopping and more.

The mobile experience has transformed from the web to apps and feeds, creating opportunities to connect with people through rich content experiences. The thumb is in charge and mobile feeds will be the centre of discovery in 2016.

From the mid-1990s to today, mobile devices have also shifted from large size to pocket size to large size again – but this time with the screen occupying the majority of the device. Mobile feeds have come alive and are full of sight, sound and motion. Here in the Middle East, mobile video is also thriving. People are sharing moments on-the-go and businesses are still to make the most of the opportunity.

The ability to strategically measure and tailor engagement for audiences on mobile and technology platforms makes it the ideal choice to deliver real business results while achieving a strong return on investment.

Today, over seven billion people use mobile phones. It is estimated that just over 606 million people in the Middle East and Africa will have at least one mobile phone this year, and the total will pass 789 million in 2019.

This adoption of mobile led solutions has not only impacted the global economy but has spurred the growth of innovators and entrepreneurs. A 2014 report by Deloitte, Facebook’s Global Economic Impact, analyses how our marketing, platform and connectivity effects have facilitated growth and jobs around the world.

The study estimates that the company, with an approximate $8bn cost base, enabled a global economic impact of $227bn and created 4.5 million jobs around the world in 2014.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and access to platforms like ours, powered by mobile, has opened the doors for entrepreneurs to audiences. Around the world over 2.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises invest actively with Facebook to reach an audience they otherwise would not be able to engage with.

In the United Arab Emirates, for example, we have become the number one referrer to Mariam Al Kassab’s KidzVenture Early Learning Centre website. This has resulted in a 50 per cent conversion rate for KidzVenture.

Facebook is committed to evolving the mobile opportunity for all people here – as we shift from mobile web to apps and feeds. This year will be a mobile first year and businesses must make this shift rapidly.

This means marketers should think about developing device friendly content for audiences; know the discovery journey and design for the thumb


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