When you think of how people access the internet, you might glance at your computer or the smartphone in your hand and imagine other people using similar devices. However, seven out of every 10 people in the world, many in fast-growing markets like India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Nigeria, use far simpler devices, like feature phones, to access the internet.*
The rate of people accessing the Internet, using only mobile devices, is skyrocketing, especially in high-growth countries. More than one billion people access Facebook on mobile every month and do so across multiple mobile devices. In many countries, a majority of those people experience Facebook on a feature phone: in India 66%, in Indonesia 71%, and in South Africa 68%.
In the past year our teams in the U.S. and on the ground in Brazil, Indonesia, India, Turkey, and South Africa have worked to understand how people connect on all devices, and on all connections, from 2G in rural parts of the world to higher-speed data networks in expanding urban centers. We use this feedback to create better mobile experiences on Facebook, as well as ad products that are better suited to meet the needs of people and advertisers in high-growth countries.
Today we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned and offer a glimpse at some of the solutions we’re developing for advertisers.
Reaching previously unreachable people
People in high-growth countries increasingly want to be connected to friends, family, news outlets and brands. However reaching people in certain countries has been a challenge for advertisers given the fragmented media options available and the expense of Internet connectivity. For many people, feature phones have helped bridge the gap, bringing people closer to the world around them.
Last year, Facebook provided advertisers the ability to place and target ads on feature phones. Since then, we have improved ad delivery by optimizing for low-bandwidth connections and continually enhance features to give brands more storytelling options. Now advertisers can reach millions of people — some for the very first time — on any device and in any country.
Developing ad solutions from local insights
In high-growth countries, necessity often breeds creativity in mobile communication. In India, for example, there is a “missed called” behavior which started as a workaround for high voice costs. Somewhat similar to a collect call, people dial a number and hang up before connecting to save voice minutes and send a signal to a friend or family member, such as “I’m outside,” or “call me back.” Recently, some businesses have begun sending recorded messages or SMS messages to people who place a missed call.
Facebook is testing an ad unit in India that builds on that behavior. When a person sees an ad on Facebook they can click on the ad to place a “missed call” directly from their mobile device. In the return call, the person receives valuable content, such as music, cricket scores, celebrity messages, alongside a brand message from the advertiser — all without using airtime or data. The early test results are positive and we plan to scale the product in the coming months.
Reaching all of the people who matter
Historically advertisers have had limited ways to reach and target the right people, especially in high-growth countries compared to developed countries. Facebook has extended its targeting options in high-growth countries, in a privacy-safe way, to help advertisers reach people across any device.
- Geo-targeting: Previously, more limited targeting options like city targeting were available for advertisers in high-growth countries, such as India. Today, advertisers can target people by state or even multiple states in India without having to list multiple cities. Our teams are currently working on additional geo-targeting enhancements in Nigeria, Turkey, South Africa, India, Indonesia and across Latin America.
- Life-stage targeting: The same targeting features available in the US and UK — for example, targeting to new moms and dads, people who have started a new job or retirees will soon be available in high-growth countries as well.
Measurement has been a challenge for advertisers in high-growth countries. With a high amount of people accessing the Internet on mobile devices in these countries, we have developed a partnership with Nielsen to serve polls to people on feature phones. Our new measurement solution provides advertisers with greater tools to measure brand sentiment, purchase intent and ad recall for the first time on mobile as well as desktop.
Our work represents the first steps to better serve people and businesses in high-growth countries. We have challenged ourselves to rethink how we develop and implement products and services. And we’ve come to believe that businesses need customized solutions to connect with the most relevant people. We look forward to sharing more about this work.
Sources and Footnotes:
- Worldwide Mobile Phone Users, January 2014” (eMarketer0
- Facebook Internal data, May 2014 on percentage of feature phone users in India, Indonesia, South Africa
- A feature phone is roughly defined as a lower-cost device that allows for SMS, voice, 3G connection, access to basic internet services, sites and more, but generally has limited functionality compared with smartphones.
Kelly McLean is from Facebook.
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