Interview: Isam Bayazidi – CEO ikoo

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ikoo CEO
Isam Bayazidi – CEO ikoo

Isam Bayazidi is the CEO of ikoo, an integrated digital marketing solution provider with the largest reach in the Middle East and North Africa, combining more than 120 websites of leading publishers in the fields of sports, women, news, business, automotive, and more. The ikoo network attracts almost 40 million monthly unique visitors and serves more than 1.4 billion monthly impressions.

ikoo is part of Jabbar Internet Group, a leading group of internet services and e-commerce properties that is driving and shaping the internet scene in the Arab world. In addition to ikoo, the group owns and runs souq.com, cashU, Sukar.com, Cobone.com and Tahadi.

Isam, 32, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. He is currently studying business administration at Warwick Business School in the UK. He has great passion for technology, Internet, gadgets and all things digital. Isam has been a diehard advocate of Open Source and Open Content projects, as well a volunteer contributor and a leader of some of the open source projects such as Wikipedia, and Arabeyes. Arabian Gazette interviewed the young CEO and asked a few questions about the company and its upcoming projects.

Please tell us a bit about ikoo.

Ikoo is an integrated digital marketing solution provider offering reliable, unique and valuable digital marketing solutions. Our solutions consist of innovative products serving specific campaign objectives combined with advanced audience targeting, which are executed on our networks.

We take pride in having the largest Arabic Display Network in Middle East and North Africa, as well as having the region’s first and only Performance Network.  This makes it possible for us to ensure your campaign gets the largest reach at almost 40 million monthly unique visitors while our network serves more.

How does the Affiliate Performance network, which was launched late last year, work? 

An Affiliate Network is a tracking platform which allows Publishers and Advertisers to work together on performance based pay models.

The Affiliate Network hosts advertiser (or online merchant) offers on its platform. The offers’ call for action is usually a payment made by online users.  Therefore an advertiser or merchant will only pay the publisher based on the number of leads or sales generated for each ad.

The role of the Affiliate Network is then to track each and every sale or lead generated by each publisher for each advertiser/merchant.  The most common misconception is confusing an Affiliate Network with an Advertising Network that sells media across a variety of sites.

The primary function of the Affiliate Network is to act as the platform which enables this “Affiliate” relationship to function. In essence it acts as an Advertising Market Place where publisher and advertisers can work together on “a win-win” basis.

How does Ikoo help budding publishers that have a growing web traffic presence and a long term vision to stay in publishing business? 

Ikoo provides various options to publishers; firstly for sites looking to grow their user base, ikoo promotes their site(s) on other ikoo partner websites to increase awareness. Then there are technical enhancements such as mobile web, social plugins, access to an ad server, advise on site layout for a better user experience as well as assisting with any other technical help required to make changes to their site.

In order to be part of your display network, potential partners would like to know Ikoo’s growth numbers and overall turnover. What figures do you provide to your partners?

Ikoo does not work on a CPM model with publishers.  Instead we have an annual agreement with our publishers where we have sole exclusivity of certain ad placements for the year.  In return we help them maximize return on their site by monetizing it, and provide with all our other publishers services.

Who are Ikoo’s competitors? What is your unique selling point (USP) that sets you apart from them? 

There are a few other online networks present within the region; however what sets ikoo apart from its competition is its focus on the Arab consumer.

According to Effective Measure – an independent tool that measures the size of the viewers for certain websites – ikoo has the highest amount of viewers among other networks in the MENA region.  Ikoo attracts 25 percent of the total browsers in Middle East and North Africa.  Moreover, by attracting 52 percent of the female Arab browsers, ikoo boasts the highest number of Arab users visiting its lifestyle related sites.  Similarly, 1 out of 3 visitors interested in Travel, and 1 out of 4 users interested in Business & Finance, visit at least one of ikoo’s sites, making it the most visited network in the region.

Would you like to share some of the exciting things in the pipeline that users will see soon?

At ikoo, we are always exploring new and innovative tools that can add value to our customers.  We monitor the market to anticipate future upcoming trends and make sure we can provide the right solution to those needs.  We have a few exciting marketing solutions in the pipeline which we are certain advertisers will see the value in having them as part of their online campaign plans. Stay tuned.

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