Why Face­book is open­ing Africa of­fice

Lesotho Times - - Business -

LON­DON — Face­book has an­nounced that it is open­ing its first of­fice in Africa, lo­cated in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a move that it hopes will strengthen its pres­ence in de­vel­op­ing mar­kets.

The pur­pose of the of­fice will be to en­cour­age busi­nesses across the con­ti­nent to ad­ver­tise on Face­book. The com­pany is en­list­ing the help of gov­ern­ments, tele­com op­er­a­tors, agen­cies and other stake­hold­ers to help drive the ef­fort. Given that more than 80pc of Face­book users in Africa ac­cess the so­cial net­work from a mo­bile phone, it is im­por­tant that ads are op­ti­mised for this for­mat, and the type of net­work con­nec­tion be­ing used, if they are to be ef­fec­tive.

Face­book claims that the new African sales team, led by Nunu Nt­shingila-njeke, who pre­vi­ously helped build Ogilvy’s net­work in Sub Sa­ha­ran Africa, will help ad­ver­tis­ers cre­ate and de­liver ads that will ap­peal to cus­tomers across the con­ti­nent.

The sales team in Africa will fo­cus ini­tially on coun­tries in Sub Sa­ha­ran Africa, in­clud­ing Kenya, Nige­ria and South Africa.

“We are com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing so­lu­tions tai­lored to peo­ple, busi­nesses and specif­i­cally for African mar­kets,” said Ari Ke­sisoglu, re­gional di­rec­tor for Face­book in the Mid­dle East and Africa.

“Our pri­or­ity for the next few months is to con­tinue the work we are al­ready do­ing with some clients in this re­gion. We will work more closely with busi­nesses and agen­cies to un­der­stand the chal­lenges, so that we can build so­lu­tions that help grow their busi­ness.”

With more than a bil­lion peo­ple, Africa holds vast po­ten­tial for Face­book. The num­ber of ac­tive users in Africa has grown 20pc be­tween Septem­ber 2014 and June 2015, from 100m to 120m.

The com­pany ex­pects this growth to con­tinue as the cost of data ser­vices de­creases and more peo­ple up­grade from ba­sic fea­ture phones to smart­phones that are ca­pa­ble of run­ning its full mo­bile app.

Face­book de­scribed the open­ing of its new of­fice as “the first step in fur­ther­ing our in­vest­ment in Africa and its peo­ple”. How­ever, the com­pany has been in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts for the re­gion for some time.

In 2013, Face­book launched In­ter­net.org, a global part­ner­ship with Eric­s­son, Me­di­atek, Nokia, Opera, Qual­comm and Sam­sung, that aims to make in­ter­net ac­cess avail­able to the two-thirds of the world that are not yet con­nected.

The first prod­uct to come out of the In­ter­net.org part­ner­ship last year was a mo­bile app that al­lows peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to ac­cess ba­sic web ser­vices for free over their mo­bile net­work.

The app launched first in Zam­bia and has since rolled out in Tan­za­nia, Kenya, Ghana, Colom­bia and parts of In­dia. It al­lows users to browse a set of health, em­ploy­ment and lo­cal in­for­ma­tion ser­vices with­out data charges.

These in­clude Ac­cuweather, BBC News, Face­book, Mes­sen­ger, Google Search, Wikipedia, Facts for Life and UNICEF, as well as a num­ber of lo­cally-spe­cific apps such as Go Zam­bia Jobs and In­dia To­day.

By pro­vid­ing free ba­sic ser­vices via the app, Face­book says it hopes to bring more peo­ple online and help them dis­cover valu­able ser­vices they might not have oth­er­wise.

As well as the app, the In­ter­net.org part­ner­ship is also look­ing at pro­vid­ing in­ter­net ac­cess from the sky in places that are cur­rently un­con­nected, us­ing drones, satel­lites and lasers.

In March, it emerged that Face­book was test­ing so­lar-pow­ered drones, de­vel­oped by Som­er­set-based com­pany As­centa, to beam down laser-guided in­ter­net sig­nals to those be­low.

The drones have a wing­span greater than a Boe­ing 737 but weigh less than a car, and so­lar pan­els at­tached to the wings mean that they will be able to keep go­ing at al­ti­tudes of 60,000 ft for months at a time.

Face­book says this will bring online con­nec­tiv­ity to re­mote lo­ca­tions, pre­vi­ously in­ac­ces­si­ble, for the first time.

The ul­ti­mate aim of all of these ef­forts to im­prove in­ter­net ac­cess in Africa is, of course, to bring Face­book more advertising rev­enue.

Over half of Face­book’s to­tal ad rev­enue came from out­side the US and Canada in the first quar­ter of 2015, and mo­bile advertising rev­enue rep­re­sented ap­prox­i­mately 73pc of Face­book’s ad rev­enue.

Face­book founder Mark Zucker­berg said in Fe­bru­ary that advertising to In­ter­net.org users was not an im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity, claim­ing that the ad mar­ket was still small in many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

How­ever, Ni­cola Men­del­sohn, Face­book’s vice pres­i­dent for Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa, told The Tele­graph in March that the com­pany was al­ready work­ing with some busi­nesses to help them de­liver ads to peo­ple in South Africa and Kenya via the com­pany’s Cre­ative Ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme.

Face­book also of­fers tools for ad­ver­tis­ers to tar­get these users. For ex­am­ple, ‘Missed Call’ al­lows a per­son to place a ‘missed call’ in re­turn for unique con­tent such as mu­sic or cricket scores, along­side a brand mes­sage from the advertiser.

Band­width Tar­get­ing also en­ables ad­ver­tis­ers to reach peo­ple based on the type of net­work con­nec­tion they usu­ally use when ac­cess­ing the In­ter­net, so that video ads are not sent to users with 2G con­nec­tions, for ex­am­ple.

“One of the things that we do is work with agen­cies and mar­keters to show what best prac­tice looks like and how they can tar­get peo­ple in the right way that can de­liver re­turn on their busi­ness for them,” Men­del­sohn said at the time.

“That’s the thing that we care about – we care about what is the re­turn we can give to mar­keters and busi­ness by us­ing the plat­form.” — Tele­graph

Face­book is open­ing its first of­fice in Africa, in a bid to grow its advertising rev­enue in the re­gion.

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