Published On: Tue, Feb 2nd, 2016

Facebook Learns To Make Money Where There Isn’t Much

$0.32. That’s a little volume Facebook used to acquire off any user in a building universe during a commencement of 2012. It was understandable. Many of a adults of India, Brazil, and Mexico don’t have a lot to spend.

That was tough on Facebook’s bottom line. These people’s homes didn’t have high-speed mobile networks or them couldn’t means them, that meant loading a ad-filled News Feed was an painful experience. They were on underline phones or comparison intelligent phones with little screens so ads didn’t demeanour that enticing.

And some simply didn’t have a shopping energy to fist what advertisers typically sole in other markets.

The problem was that Facebook was already attack user superfluity in many of a core markets like a United States, Canada, and England. There usually weren’t that many people left to register. Facebook’s user expansion prospects were resolutely in a “Rest Of World” region, though these signups weren’t generating adequate revenue.

This, and a appearing change to mobile, spooked investors and caused Facebook’s IPO to tank. Its share cost slipped to around $19.

4X 2012

Yet in a years since, Facebook has executed a conspicuous change in focus. Instead of building for connected proletariat surrounding a California headquarters, it started meditative about what would make Facebook a good believe in little towns on a other side of a planet. For people with opposite phones, opposite carriers, and opposite wallets.

The outcome was done transparent final week in Facebook’s blockbuster Q4 2015 gain report. The amicable network now earns $1.22 in normal income per user (ARPU) in a “Rest Of World” segment done adult of building nations. That’s roughly 4X what it was earning in 2012. It’s done outrageous advance this year, flourishing that figure 29.8% compared to both Q3 and 2014’s clever holiday quarter.

Facebook's ARPU strike $1.22 in a 'Rest Of World' segment in Q4 2015, adult from $0.32 in Q1 2012

Facebook’s ARPU strike $1.22 in a ‘Rest Of World’ segment in Q4 2015, adult from $0.32 in Q1 2012

Sure, it’s nowhere tighten to a $13.54 ARPU Facebook creates in a US Canada, or a $4.50 in Europe. But it’s quick throwing adult to Asia-Pacific. And with Facebook pouring resources into joining “the subsequent billion”, mostly in a building world, and Facebook’s expansion efforts stop being gift work to open a believe economy. They’re transparent paths to income that can account Facebook’s large bets on practical reality, synthetic intelligence, and more.

Smarter Day By Day

Facebook Coca-ColaTime is on Facebook’s side. The healthy virality and application of Facebook fundamentally pushes people to join. For a early adopters in a country, a News Feed isn’t that engaging given a folks they caring about aren’t pity there. But friends harass friends to join, and when they do, their News Feeds spin some-more addictive. They revisit some-more mostly so they see some-more ads.

Similarly, time spent on Facebook teaches it what people wish to see. From Liking Pages of businesses to commenting on posts about news stories to adding info to one’s profile, Facebook gathers some-more and some-more information to fuel a ad targetng. That means any ad people see is some-more expected to do a job, and advertisers compensate a aloft rate.

Facebook turns 12 subsequent year, and has been open to everybody in a universe given 2006. Venture collateral and a income warranted in core markets let it play a prolonged diversion abroad.

Engineering With Empathy

Facebook is also building differently, with an importance on speed notwithstanding delayed connections. The faster Facebook loads, a reduction frustrating it is to use. That leads people to open it even when they usually have a few seconds, and spend longer sessions scrolling a feed, messaging, and regulating all of Facebook’s other features.

Facebook acquired Snaptu in 2011 and incited it into Facebook For Every Phone, an app for underline phones that unnatural a smartphone experience. No matter what device people were on, they could entrance what felt like a genuine Facebook. By 2013, Facebook For Every Phone had 100 million downloads and was portion ads.

Facebook For Everyphone

Facebook For Everyphone



Facebook also bought a approach to cringe a information and battery use in 2013. The tech from a merger of Israeli startup Onavo made a apps faster, bake reduction of people’s information plans, and not kill their phones. That allows Facebook to be some-more affordable and permitted so people use it more.

The association ramped adult a empathic engineering efforts with a origination of a Innovation Lab in 2014. It lets Facebook and other companies copy bad network conditions from a building universe to figure out how their apps work, or some-more mostly don’t work, when information slows to a trickle.

To force a clarity of care on a employees, Facebook instituted ‘2G Tuesdays’ during a Menlo Park domicile final year. Workers have to entrance Facebook over indolent 2G connectors common in a building universe so they know a pain of those users and essay to make a app run some-more smoothly.

Access Is Step One harnesses Facebook’s munificent vigilant to work on joining a whole world. Facebook insists that monetization isn’t a purpose of a accessibility initiatives. But an unavoidable side outcome is that if Facebook unlocks a web for someone, they’ll expected make it their amicable network of choice.

Eventually, removing some-more people a reliable, affordable Internet tie is expected to beget income for Facebook. Ubiquity also drives network effect. Those competence take a prolonged time to equivalent a happening Facebook is investing in bringing a rest of a universe online.


Facebook’s Aquila drone

Facebook began building solar powered drones and lasers to broach Internet entrance to remote areas. These aren’t drifting in a margin yet, though Facebook has begun contrast its Aquila drones that could eventually give people out of operation of dungeon towers a tie so they can teach themselves, communicate…and eventually use Facebook more.

Facebook also expelled a app final year, and it’s now permitted in 33 countries. It offers giveaway information entrance to Facebook, Messenger, Wikipedia, health info, county resources, and other websites. The app, now called Free Basics, has met insurgency from net neutrality critics who see it as a approach for Facebook to control what people access. But Facebook argues some Internet is improved than none, and has shifted to emanate a some-more open height for other apps to be permitted for free.

Facebook Free Basics App

Free Basics app

Over 19 million people have used’s app to connect. Though it doesn’t uncover ads, it could remonstrate people a Internet is value profitable for, including a chronicle of Facebook that includes marketing.


Facebook Lite

But even if someone can means a information devise and are in operation of connectivity, Facebook still wanted to make itself some-more permitted around a globe. In Jun 2015, Facebook launched Facebook Lite, a nude down chronicle of a Android app relying on what it schooled about information crunching from Onavo.

The whole app is reduction than 1 megabyte, so it’s super discerning to download. And by ditching videos and usually pulling images in full-resolution when necessary, it loads quick on diseased connectors and is reduction expected to monopolize people’s information plans. The outcome is Facebook use that is shame giveaway and won’t cost an arm and a leg. Ads aren’t as irritating when you’re not worrying about how many it’s costing we to see them.

All these efforts mix to set adult a beach conduct for boosting ad income in a building world. But Facebook is also aggressive a problem conduct on.

Ads keep removing flashier and some-more information complete in a core markets, though formats like HD video won’t fly in some-more remote areas. Users would get wearied and corkscrew by before they finish loading.

Adapting To Locals


A Facebook ‘Missed Call’ ad

Starting in 2014, Facebook began charity bandwidth ad targeting. This allows marketers to uncover ads to people depending on either they typically use Facebook over 2G, 3G, 4G, or LTE connections. This way, advertisers don’t rubbish income display HD print or video ads to users who won’t demeanour given they bucket too slow.

Facebook also takes cues from singular internal function patterns.

Facebook’s initial incursion into ads meant privately for a building universe were “Click To Missed Call”. In India, effusive phone calls are pricey. That’s because businesses mostly titillate people to ‘missed call’ them. Potential business call a business’ phone array though afterwards immediately hang adult before they answer so they’re not charged. The business can afterwards call a chairman behind during a possess expense.

Facebook built ads that copy this experience, giving a business a person’s phone array so they can call or content them with information that could enthuse a purchase.

Videos Become Slideshows

To catalyze expansion of some-more of novel building universe ad strategies, Facebook launched a Creative Accelerator final year. It gives brands a possibility to work directly with Facebook’s teams to build campaigns that are concordant with 2G connections, underline phones, and other aged technologies.


An ad done in partnership with Facebook’s Creative Accelerator

For example, Facebook worked with condom code Durex on an ad debate in Indonesia centered around a comparatively low-resolution picture that installed quick on underline phones. Facebook also helped come adult with content that meshed with opposite informative norms around sex and birth control in a country. Brands who’ve worked with a Creative Accelerator have seen increases in ad remember and fist intent.

Perhaps many emblematic of how Facebook is mixing engineering and creativity to fist income out of a building universe is a new Slideshow ad format.

“The slideshow product enables a video-like believe with phones with reduce tie speeds and underline phones with a array of photos” COO Sheryl Sandberg  said on a new gain call. “Coca-Cola used that in Kenya and Nigeria. They took screenshots of a video ad they had constructed for other markets. They uploaded them with text. And they reached 2 million people with a 10 indicate lift in ad awareness.”


Facebook’s Slideshow ad format

Essentially, video would take perpetually to bucket in these markets, so brands can cut their videos into what amounts to a storyboard. Through a few images with text, Slideshow ads can communicate a identical story to full-motion video. Facebook tells me a saying quite clever seductiveness in Slideshow ads in Brazil and India.

Still, Facebook is merely scraping a income off a aspect of a building world. What a adults miss in spending energy they make adult in spending time. Facebook’s user count in a Rest Of World segment is flourishing roughly 4X faster than in a US and Canada. And people there are regulating it some-more days per month notwithstanding that growth. 57.4% of monthly users in a Rest Of World used Facebook any day during a finish of 2013, compared to 62.6% now.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 during 4.17.35 PM

Facebook is flourishing roughly 4X faster in a Rest Of World than in a US and Canada

As Sandberg pronounced on a gain call, when we review where people are fixation their courtesy to where dollars are going, Facebook is “still under-indexed”. Time spent is changeable to digital and generally mobile faster than a advertising, though a media spend avalanche is starting.

That’s because by accessibility, engineering, targeting, and ad formats, Facebook is scheming itself. If it can make advertisers gentle and while seducing adults on delayed connections, Facebook will increasingly spin pennies to dollars in a many doubtful places. Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be a amicable utility. Utilities cost money. But Facebook has figured out how to let people around a universe compensate with their eyes.

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