Yahoo is considering the potential of expanding the concept of a commercial research arm to global markets, following its acquisition of Maktoob and its research unit, Maktoob Research.
Tamara Deprez, Head of Maktoob Research, said: "Not many in the region have a commercial research arm. This is why we have a unique position.
"This is also new to Yahoo after the acquisition of Maktoob, but it is developing into a new concept that has a lot of potential."
Now branded as Yahoo Maktoob Research, the division secured the second largest revenue for Maktoob, before being bought by Yahoo in October last year.
The research arm is now awaiting the launch of its fully rebranded identity as a part of Yahoo Maktoob in May, which puts off discussions of bringing the acquired Arabic portal under the full name of Yahoo.
Deprez said: "The name [Yahoo Maktoob Research] might eventually change over the years, but for the time being that is how we will remain, for at least the next couple of years." Currently, the branding team of Yahoo Maktoob is finalising the corporate branding and the collaterals.
In the meantime, Yahoo Maktoob Research is going to be fully focused on commercial research services unlike the internal Yahoo research insights.
The research division is looking at big plans to expand its research panel, already considered the largest in the region. According to the records on Arab-eye.com, the research community portal for Yahoo Maktoob Research, the panel currently counts 77,036 people, growing at a rate of 10,000 members a month.
Yahoo Maktoob Research yesterday announced the appointment of a new Head of Operations, Ragheed A Masri, at its office in Amman. The whole of Yahoo Maktoob Research operations team is currently based in Amman, while Dubai houses the offices comprising the marketing and branding teams.
In his position, Masri will be working on solidifying the structure of the research operations process, and will also manage the operational efforts and team. He will be responsible for project transition, project management and project delivery functions.
Deprez said: "As regional and international demand for online research services and sample from the Middle East and North Africa grow, Ragheed Masri will be a welcome addition to the YahooMaktoob Research team". She explained: "At the moment, we are providing research services to clients in FMCG and automotive sectors among others, mainly based in Dubai.
"In addition, we also have an international business. We work with the likes of Nielsen Worldwide to provide them with effective sampling in the region We also focus on providing regional samples for research firms that have no representation in the region."
Nielsen UAE is one of the top research firms in the region, with a base in Dubai, and boasting a comprehensive online panel.
Deprez said: "Nielsen does have a strong panel in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but they come to us to provide them with samples from the rest of the region."
She said: "We are working on many projects at this point. Our main focus into to grow our panel.
"We currently have 20,000 members in Saudi Arabia, which we are quite happy with, but we are looking at increasing our UAE panel by double, to reach another 20,000 people.
"Bearing that in mind, we have a very strong sample representation in both markets, but we are also working to secure further growth in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Our advantage is that we already have a large database of members from Maktoob in addition to the Yahoo database, thus saving us huge amounts of investments."
Deprez added: "In order to increase our database, we are inviting people to join using the Yahoo mail 'log-in invites', Facebook ads and Google ads."
Members are incentivised to be on the panel by offering points to buy with on former e-commerce sister portal, cashU.com.
The portal currently under Jabbar Group, Deprez said, allows the members of the panel to cash their points for games.
However, the research entity is considering further partnerships with loyalty schemes such as Emirates Skywards, Amazon.com and similar other programmes.
According to Deprez, the panel is controlled by certain control checks, including phone interviews with the members.
"We depend on interning student to conduct those phone interviews, where information provided by panel members is routinely checked and confirmed."
Deprez said that future plans also include setting up cell-offices in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as in other markets outside the region, such as the US and UK.
Meanwhile, Yahoo Maktoob is still awaiting the last stage of finalising the branding, which is also expected in the next month.