Facebook targets emerging markets with low bandwidth ads


When a company like Facebook hits $12.5 billion in annual revenues, up 58% year-over-year, sustaining growth becomes top priority.

Last quarter, mobile ads accounted for 98% of Facebook’s revenue growth. Keeping the momentum going means capitalizing on markets like India, Turkey and Kenya — emerging countries where many people skip the traditional computer in favor of smartphones or feature phones. A new program from Facebook announced this week called Creative Accelerator helps brands like Coca Cola, Nestlé and Durex advertise in these places, which in turn, may boost the social network’s mobile ad revenues.


Creative Accelerator’s tech knows how fast or slow a user’s Internet connection is, which is key, given many mobile users in those markets have slower 2G or 3G access. The program also lends its know-how to help brands identify which ad campaign ideas will perform well in those countries.

In Nestlé’s case, the food and beverage company worked with Creative Accelerator to generate mobile Facebook ads for its dairy creamer in India. Starting in January, Facebook users in the country with faster connections were served a 22-second, sound-free video; users with slower connections more often got still-image ads of the same product.

Durex, too, turned to Creative Accelerator for its condom ads. Since rolling out the campaign in Indonesia last December, Durex saw a 4-point boost from mobile users who intended to buy its product afterwards, and a 3-point increase for users who would recommend Durex products.

Creative Accelerator at its core makes it easier for brands to connect with Facebook users. Oh, and it’s free.

That effectively jives with Facebook’s efforts in the developing world. Internet.org, a service backed by Facebook which Zuckerberg launched himself in 2013, has the audacious goal of bringing affordable Internet access to everyone on the planet by working with mobile companies to make access more efficient, affordable and ubiquitous.

It’s currently up-and-running in six countries — Columbia, India, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana — and has helped over 7 million people access health, employment and local information services, free of charge. Facebook wants Internet.org to be in 100 countries by the end of 2015.

To be clear, Internet.org and Creative Accelerator are two very separate services with very different audiences: One is aimed at people who don’t have Internet access, the other targets people who already have it. But if the two share anything, it’s that neither are solely philanthropic ventures, despite Facebook’s proclamations that it wants to “bring connectivity to the world.”

Facebook, of course, isn’t a non-profit. It’s an ambitious, fast-growing, 9,000-strong corporate giant that generated nearly $12.5 billion in annual revenues last year with no plans of slowing down.