Facebook has opened its first office in Africa headed by Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, chairwoman of the ad agency Ogilvy. This step will help Facebook further its commitment of connecting businesses with people, and grow their average revenue per user.
Of Africa’s over 1 billion population, 120 million of them use Facebook, up from 100 million in September of 2014. The new sales office, will have Facebook reps working with businesses to find ways to make their ads more valuable. More than 80% of African Facebook users connect from cellphones, so a big part of that is optimizing ads to be effective even on small screens with poor resolution and bad connectivity.
Right now, more than 52% of Facebook's ad revenue comes from areas outside the U.S and Canada. About 80% of the revenue outside North America comes from Asia-Pacific and Europe, meaning that about 20% comes from the "rest of the world," which includes South America and Africa.
For the first quarter in 2015, the company’s average revenue per user was $8.32 in the United States, $2.99 in Europe, and $1.18 in Asia Pacific, but only $0.80 per user in the rest of the world. Facebook says that it expects its future user growth to be concentrated in areas where its average revenue per user (ARPU) is currently lower.
Facebook has been increasing its efforts to win over Africa in the last couple of years, with its Internet.org initiative and its new Facebook Lite app, a stripped down version of the app that works better with lower-end phones.
Facebook also launched what it called “missed call ads” in Africa and India last year. When links for an ad on Facebook are clicked, the advertiser calls the user’s phone and plays an audio ad and takes on the costs of that call. The new office will likely explore various such ways to better connect businesses to consumers.
"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach won't work when it comes to building products and solutions that address diverse needs on the continent, which is why we are committed to creating solutions tailored to people, businesses and specifically for African markets," Facebook's director of the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa said in a statement about the news. "We will work more closely with businesses and agencies to understand the challenges, so that we can build solutions that help grow their business."
According to Recode, The new office will not include Internet.org employees, and the company intends to hire 25 employees in its South Africa office, all of them on the business and advertising side of the fence.