One of the most impressive facets of Facebook’s development as a company has been its international growth. In Q4 2012, Facebook’s ad revenue from Asia was $168 million. That has nearly doubled, to $318 million in Q4 2013. In countries outside of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, ad revenue grew from $156 million in Q4 2012 to $300 million in Q4 2013.
The major factor, notes Upstream Head of Engagement Management Markellos Diorinos, has been Facebook’s ability to make the site viable and valuable on mobile phones all over the world. As Facebook for Every Phone becomes more popular by the day, and Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of connecting the world through Internet.org starts to take hold, Facebook becomes a more serious player in emerging markets. In Upstream’s findings, while mobile may garner fewer impressions, the value-per-impression is 92 percent higher than desktop.
What’s next for Facebook? Diorinos sees great untapped potential in Africa.
Diorinos talked with Inside Facebook about the international mobile market, where many people have feature phones instead of Androids or iPhones. Facebook has strengthened its ad targeting so advertisers can reach those who don’t visit the site with a smartphone, allowing marketers to reach demographics that were impossible years ago.
Diorinos talked about how more people in emerging markets are accessing the internet through their phone, noting that many times the Facebook Messenger app can be more popular than Facebook’s native app, as people use the phone to connect with others:
The penetration of internet is nowhere near as high as in the Western world, much less the U.S. and so on. As a result, for many of the past years, Facebook was very cumbersome for people to access or they couldn’t access it. When Facebook came out with their first mobile apps, it was very slow and it was more frustrating than enjoyable. For example, Nigeria, in a survey we ran last year, for 66 percent of the people, the main way they access the internet is their phone. So now these people have a connection through their phone and they have access and they’re now starting to join Facebook.
The connection of people in emerging markets is the main goal of Internet.org. By improving internet access to millions of people around the world, those people can then join and use Facebook.
The next area to experience a Facebook boom could be Africa, Diorinos said:
In my opinion, where I expect to see a lot of huge uptake is in the places where they have the lowest penetration so far, and that would be Africa, which is a huge market, and it’s grossly underserved. Connectivity is there. This is the place where Internet.org is going to make the most difference.