Smart Move: Yahoo Acquires Major Arabic Portal Maktoob

Yahoo's announcement of their acquisition of major Arabic portal Maktoob may be the smartest move the company has made in some time. Maktoob gives them deep penetration in to the Middle Eastern market - a rapidly growing and desired market.

"This acquisition will accelerate Yahoo!'s strategy of expanding in high-growth emerging markets where we believe Yahoo! has unparalleled opportunity to become the destination of choice for consumers," said Yahoo! chief executive officer Carol Bartz. "Access to information and communications tools can positively impact people's lives in many ways, and with the acquisition of Maktoob.com and our investment in the region, the Arab world will soon get a Yahoo! experience in Arabic with relevant local language content, programming and services."

Maktoob reaches 16.5 million unique users in a space where global marketers are looking for more quality access. Yahoo's purchase of Maktoob makes access to this wanted population easier for marketers looking to push their reach into the Middle East market.

The Yahoo press release noted:

"While Internet usage in the Middle East has grown more than tenfold since 2000, most markets are still in the early stages of adoption. According to the World Bank, there are more than 320 million Arabic speakers worldwide, while less than one per cent of all online content is in Arabic.

With Yahoo! and Maktoob.com's combined audience and platform, advertisers will have access to the reach and sophisticated targeting capabilities they need to effectively engage with the region's online consumers. Spending on online advertising is expected to grow by 35 - 40 percent this year in the region, according to Madar Research.:

Maktoob.com was founded in 2000 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury as the world's first free Arabic/English Web-based email service, and since then has grown to be the leading Arab online community in the region.

"Yahoo is acquiring Maktoob.com for the strong brand and audience it has built over the last nine years and the passionate team they have assembled, which we believe is the strongest in the region," said Keith Nilsson, senior vice president, Emerging Markets, Yahoo! "We see great growth potential in both audience and advertising in the Arab world and combining with Maktoob.com will allow us to quickly build our presence there with high quality products. This is a big win for publishers, advertisers, and consumers in the region."

This acquisition is part of Yahoo!'s larger strategy to grow its business throughout the world's emerging markets by connecting consumers with the content and services that matter most to them in their local language. The company's Emerging Markets business group, headquartered in Singapore, is responsible for Yahoo!'s fastest growing markets such as South East Asia, India, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Yahoo! has a strong track record of delivering great Internet experiences and helping fuel Internet adoption through partnerships with local developers and content providers.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.