What is your favorite online advertising method?

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Note: This piece has been adapted from its Arabic original. 

Sometimes it pays to look beyond the surface of data.

This study found that Europe, the Middle East, and Africa were found to have the highest cost per click (CPC) rate for advertising online (see graphic above). You might be tempted to claim that advertising in the Middle East is expensive, but the data above is likely swayed by Europe; it's well-known that the cost of online advertising in the Middle East is much lower than the global average. 

That's because traditional advertising, especially on television, is still popular- and expensive- in the Middle East. The cost of a 30-second TV ad spot during peak viewing times on free-to-air satellite TV in the Middle East and North Africa has reached US $5,448 this year, almost twice the global average of US $3,157.

For startups, low ad costs mean two things: 1) it's easier to buy advertising online in this market, but 2) it's more difficult for content portals to monetize. All the same, some startups looking to absolutely minimize their costs rely on social media, which can be a great, free way to generate buzz, as long as they aren't making these 10 critical mistakes.

When it comes to online advertising, some products are more effective than others. Banner ads are not known for their draw; one digital ad agency found that you're more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. 

Native ads, however- those placed alongside the page’s regular content- have been found to catch a user’s eye 52% more frequently than regular banner ads, one eye-tracking study found. In many cases, they are viewed the same amount as editorial content.

This trend continues in the Middle East; Egypt's Masrawy, for one, is a popular content portal that recently redesigned its site to incorporate native ads and gain more engagement for its clients.

The best option, however, especially in the Arab world, might be a video ad campaign; although video ads tend to cost more than image banners, they have much higher click-through rates, perhaps around 27.4 times that of standard banners and 12 times as much as rich media ads, according to a 2012 metric by U.S.-based digital ad agency MediaMind. YouTube, for example, is seeing a huge percentage of views coming from the Arab world. According to Google, Saudi Arabia has the highest number of YouTube views in the world per internet user, followed by Egypt, Morocco, and the UAE. And many of these views are via mobile as smartphone penetration continues to rise in the region.

Startups in the region can take advantage of some or all of these tools to boost their brand. What advertising tools do you use at your startup to keep costs down and reach as many consumers as possible? Click here to take our survey and let us know which tools you find most useful. 

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