Islamic Lifestyle

Muslim-focused advertising network targeting Fortune 500 companies as appeal of Islamic markets grows


There are many advertising networks across the globe that will include Muslim markets as a part of their overall business but not many are fully dedicated to them. A U.S.-based company has focused on Muslim consumers for ten years and says it’s now ready to pursue the big companies as clients.

Muslim Ad Network works with businesses that want their advertisements to reach Muslim consumers on websites and in apps. CEO and co-founder Tabish Hasan told Salaam Gateway the company has served over 1 billion ads in its 10-year history and it reaches around 250 million Muslims globally, and 4.5 million in its strongest markets of U.S., Canada and the UK.

Companies like Muslim Ad Network work with online publishers or websites to get better rates for businesses that want to place their ads across the internet and on digital platforms like apps. Businesses that choose to sign on with Muslim Ad Network want to specifically target Muslim consumers across device type, location, age, interests, gender, and income levels. Catering to its clients’ needs, Muslim Ad Network says that all of the publishers it works with target the Muslim markets and are “pre-screened”.

Coming out of the busiest season in the Islamic calendar, Tabish Hasan told Salaam Gateway the company saw about a 10% increase in revenue year-on-year for Ramadan, which ran from the end of April to the end of May.

“We won a major campaign from one of the biggest charities in the world, alhamdulillah,” said Hasan, revealing that the organisation signed on after Muslim Ad Network lost a major client that wanted to “freeze budgets and attempt to bring advertising in-house”.

Online advertising took a hit in the first three months of this year, with giants Facebook and Google both reporting reduction in demand especially in the last weeks of the first quarter. Both stressed, however, that the steep drop-offs started to moderate after March. 

Hasan said Muslim Ad Network more or less went through the same. The company, whose parent is Ummah Media Group, says that compared to the same time in 2019, it saw about the same pace of ad delivery for the first-quarter of this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With most countries in some form of lockdown, digital has come to the forefront more than ever, which is a development in Muslim Ad Network’s favour.

“Most of our clients recognise the value which Muslim Ad Network brings, which is giving them the ability to reach an exclusive audience of Muslim consumers efficiently online, so they’ve stuck with using us,” Hasan added.

“[A]s companies are realising the need to dedicate more of their budgets towards digital advertising and exploring the available solutions, they are recognising their options to reach Muslim audiences is very limited and they are naturally gravitating towards Muslim Ad Network,” he added.

With its clear demographic focus and ten years in business, the California-based company now ranks highest on Google for the keywords “advertising to Muslims”. Its typical client has so far been mostly mid-tier organisations in various verticals looking to reach Muslims on a national level in the U.S. or the UK.

Now, it says it sees “the tide shifting” and the big companies will start targeting Muslim audiences.

“When we started in 2010, we purposefully avoided going after the Fortune 500s due to the uncertainty of their reception and timelines when they’ll be ready to jump in the Muslim market,” Hasan told Salaam Gateway.

With Islamophobia also more prevalent at that time, the company said it chose to build up by focusing on companies that need Muslim customers to survive, for example Islamic charities. But the environment has evolved.

“This year, we’re seeing an uptick in demand from mainstream and Fortune 500 companies and global non-profits,” said Hasan.

Even with the sharp and deep economic downturn (in the company’s key markets, the IMF projects a GDP contraction of 5.9% for the U.S., 6.5% for the UK, and 6.2% for Canada), Hasan says Muslim Ad Network is “generally optimistic” about the rest of 2020, even with the impact of the pandemic.

“In the worst case, if things continue to stay closed/limited, we think with more people being online, advertisers will naturally want to get in front of all the consumers,” said the CEO.

“Advertisers will likely want to reach niche audiences, like our Muslim audience, in an effort to find untapped opportunities and those they can reach with less competition.”

Most countries have already started easing their COVID-19 movement restrictions, which will re-open sectors such as retail, most of which survive on consumer volume.

“If things open up sooner than later, I think the pent-up demand will drive consumer spending which in turn will drive ad sales," said Hasan.

 

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Emmy Abdul Alim