New research shares statistics on how Ramadan changes online behavior in the Middle East & North Africa

  • June 7, 2016

New research shares statistics on how Ramadan changes online behavior in the Middle East & North Africa

Exponential Interactive, one of the largest leading global providers of digital advertising solutions, reaching more than 750 million users each month, has conducted an analysis of the anonymous online behaviour of people residing and working in the Middle East and North Africa, researching the Ramadan audience to compare the strongest – or most ‘over-indexing’ – interests across topics, including shopping, travel, food, charity and religion (see attached infographic).

The results showed how online behaviours in the Middle East change during Ramadan, including the key points below:

·         Research reveals Housewares to be the most popular product category to be researched for Ramadan, along with cooking and recipes 

·         Fashion is key – the audience is 5% more likely to research hair & makeup, accessories & flowers 

·         Environmental causes are the most popular in terms of charitable contributions  

·         Closer to Eid, online shopping shifts from home entertainment to gift giving 

·         Most popular Ramadan gifts to be bought online include consumer electronics, children’s books and games, and jewellery and watches 

·         Other key content spikes include home improvement, education and travel 

Religion & Charity

Data from the research supports the key themes of Ramadan, of family, religion and charity, with consumers being 103 times more likely to research society and culture content related to religion and spirituality, and 45x more likely to research quotes and poetry. Education for children is also a popular topic (29x more likely to be researched). In terms of charity, the Ramadan audience is 22 times more likely to be interested in environmental causes, followed by the homeless and elderly (both 14x).                                                                                             


When it comes to travel, the Ramadan audience is an overwhelming 674% more likely to be interested in travelling from the Middle East to Hyderabad, India, than the average person online. Travel to Islamabad, Pakistan, also scores very highly at 76x. Travel resources and guides are also 57x more popular during the Ramadan period as people plan trips to see family and friends.


Exponential’s research support’s Google’s data which shows spikes in searches for recipes and cooking during Ramadan. The Ramadan audience is 40x more likely to research recipes and cooking, with the most popular recipe topics include breakfast (47x), chicken (35x), seafood (30x) and desserts/sweets (29x).


The Ramadan audience is 144x more likely to be interested in homewares than the internet average, also supporting the focus on cooking and entertaining during this period, while home & garden and home improvements were also 18x more likely to be researched.


Fashion becomes even more popular during the Ramadan period with the focus on socializing with family and friends. The Ramadan audience were 11x more likely to research fashion, with the majority of interest around hair & makeup, dresses & women’s accessories (all 5x more likely than the internet average).

Eid gift giving

As Ramadan comes to a close and we approach Eid, data shows that the online shopping focus shifts from home improvement towards gift giving. Jewellery and watches prove the most popular gift choices around Eid with consumers 29x more likely to be researching these, followed by men’s and women’s luxury fashion at around 10x.

Educational materials are a popular choice for children’s gifts with the audience interested in books, games and puzzles 20x more than the internet average, followed by children’s clothes at 9x. Sweets and flowers show a popularity increase of 5x during this period, while consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets and streaming devices also proved to be very popular.

Overall, online shopping shows a sharp rise of 10x above average during the Ramadan timeframe. This, along with religion, charity, food and travel, prove to be the most popular topics for online audiences during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The research reinforces what we already know about the Holy Month, with online behaviours during Ramadan reflecting those offline,” commented Amer Attyeh, Exponential’s Regional Business Head for the Middle-East and North Africa.

“From a business perspective, this research can help companies to be more effective online, targeting activity and advertising where it will have the most impact during this time. Mobile and video creative executions are particularly impactful during this period of increased travel, family interaction and content sharing. Travel, retail (particularly fashion, homewares and consumer electronics) and consumer packaged goods such as food and drinks would be prime areas of focus for campaigns during this month, with a general theme of discounts and promotions resonating particularly well with the Ramadan audience” he added.


About Exponential
Exponential Interactive delivers innovative advertising experiences that transform the way brands interact with audiences across desktop and mobile. Exponential’s platform fuses one of the largest global digital media footprints and proprietary data with user-centric ad formats designed to drive engagement and action. Creativity and audience insights form the foundation for building smarter, more relevant solutions for advertisers and publishers. Exponential was founded in 2001 and has locations in 22 countries. For more information, please visit