DUBAI: Online advertising revenues are set to increase dramatically in the Middle East this year, as marketers take a more nuanced approach to engaging consumers.

A poll of 1,048 industry specialists by the International Quality & Productivity Centre found that 73% of respondents will focus their digital efforts on Saudi Arabia over the 2010/11 period.

More specifically, as 40% of the country's 30 million residents are "Arabic-speaking digital natives", it was predicted that more brands would compete to reach this audience in their own language.

However, 51% of survey participants also stated that their current biggest challenge was crafting effective campaigns in Arabic, particularly with regard to creating relevant and engaging content.

Yahoo was of the major players to strengthen its presence in this area last year, purchasing Maktoob, an online community for Arabic-speaking web users, with an estimated 16.5 million members.

Google is also planning launch its social media service, Buzz, in Arabic, while some 9.7 million people in the Middle East already belong to Facebook, which launched a translated version of its site in March 2009.

With regard to advertising, Madar Research has forecast that online revenues will rise by between 35% and 40% in the region this year.

As previously reported, the Dubai Press Club and Value Partners have argued that total expenditure levels across 15 nations in the area will rise by 8.4% annually between 2010 and 2013.

While the web currently only takes a 1% share of all advertising outlay in these markets, totalling $56 million (€41.1m; £37.2m), it should see growth of 4.5% a year, to $266m, by the latter date.

Data sourced from IQPC; additional content by Warc staff