It has been quite a challenge for Fergus O’Hare and his team from the Facebook Creative Shop to turn back time and use basic feature phones to develop content suitable for users in Africa who access the global social media platform from such devices.
Facebook has developed its Creative Accelerator to “reach people with stories that are personal, relevant and meaningful — breaking through geographic, linguistic, technological and cultural differences”. This mostly applies to countries rapidly adopting mobile phones that aren’t necessarily smartphones. The team is working with clients and agency partners in South Africa, Kenya, India, Indonesia and Turkey to “develop campaigns tailored to the people in each country and the devices they use to experience Facebook”. In South Africa, the agency partner is McCann-Erickson.
“Working with old feature phones took us back in time,” O’Hare told The Media Online. “They’re quite limited from a technical perspective but it was great fun, and a learning curve for us.”
He said while South Africa’s smartphone penetration was “quite high”, it wasn’t so in the rest of Africa. And with Facebook’s mission to “connect the world”, this meant connecting with people on the devices they use. “We got up to speed pretty quickly and realised old phones are wonderful for advertising,” said O’Hare.
Another challenge, of course, is South Africa – and Africa’s – issues with cheap bandwidth, and access to bandwidth too. Firstly, the Creative Accelerator programme talks to people with access, albeit off a low bandwidth base, which is where bandwidth targeting comes in.
But Facebook also wants to reach out to those without internet access, which is where internet.org becomes relevant. So there’s a ‘lightweight’ version of Facebook that lives without photographs or ads. And to enable access, the global giant is, for example, using drones to deliver bandwidth to areas with only limited access.
The ultimate aim is to deliver meaningful content (advertising) by using the “explosive potential of mobile technology in high-growth countries with the ability for brands and agencies to build valuable creative for people”.
Because people in these high-growth countries are bypassing desktop computers and accessing the internet mostly from mobile devices, Facebook believes “bandwidth targeting” is vital as it allows advertisers to “deliver their message only to people who are able to receive it (even while not sitting behind a desktop). It allows advertisers to target the appropriate creative to the right people”.
This means that while mobile video views is a medium that is growing fast globally, an advertising video could reach people using smartphones in emerging markets, but a still image could be used for people on lower bandwidths. Coupled with Facebook’s other tools looking at demographics, geographical location, consumer behavior and customized audience data, advertisers are able to segment audiences with “incredible accuracy and intelligence”.
“Facebook is forcing clients, in a good way, to simplify their advertising proposition,” says O’Hare. “The media landscape is changing. Billions of people can be reached via Facebook. And Africa is such a great market. We’re looking for more partners on the continent.”
Facebook has worked with several global brands – Coca-Cola, Virgin, Durex, for example – to test the waters.
Case study: Coca Cola (Kenya):
- Business Goal:
- Coca Cola Kenya wanted to increase brand awareness to the people of Kenya through the message of happiness by sharing a Coke.
- Reach target audience in Kenya across multiple devices where feature phone is the most dominant.
- Creative Shop partnered with Coca Cola Kenya’s creative agency, McCann in South Africa, to identify the best creative idea and Facebook execution to achieve these objectives. The creative idea needed to deliver in a market that is extremely diverse in terms of mobile penetration — across all device types and connection strength.
- The campaign begins by targeting the local audience on feature phones with beautiful images of local Kenyans smiling and doing the everyday things they love. We include a hashtag to encourage people to share their own #Kenyanhappiness
- As people in Kenya begin uploading their own #Kenyanhappiness, Coca Cola will spread those messages of positivity to more people around the world – reaching Kenya’s neighboring countries with positive messages.
- The campaign targets Kenyans in addition to audience segments of Kenyan expats who live outside Kenya as well as frequent travelers to the country, spreading the message of positivity.
Note: This story was updated on 30.03 with reference to internet.org
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