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 amobile 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.”
INSTAGRAM LAUNCHES A LITE APP FOR LOW-END ANDROID DEVICES
Instagram has released a lightweight version of its Android app that should be easier to install and browse on devices short on storage space and on spotty connections.
TechCrunch notes that the new app, which weighs in at just 573KB, is 1/55th the size of the original app at 33MB. Naturally, you’ll find it a little lighter on functionality too: there’s no messaging or the ability to upload videos right now.
The launch is part of Facebook’s approach to reaching the next billion people who will come online for the first time in developing countries, mostly using low-cost mobile devices with limited access to connectivity and data.
Making its apps more easier to download and perform well on low-end devices is key to growing its user base around the world. To that end, Facebook made Lite versions of its apps for its social network and Messenger available years ago. Twitter has one too, and Google recently launched an optimized version of Android – complete with a suite of its essential apps – to address these needs in emerging markets.
Instagram’s been on a roll lately. It added 300 million users in a little over a year to reach 1 billion last week, and has tacked on loads more features to its service recently, including group video calls, support for longer videos in what it’s calling IGTV, tools for curating saved posts, and improving discovery.
Source: The NextWeb
SCAMMERS ABUSE MULTILINGUAL DOMAIN NAMES
Cyber-criminals are abusing multilingual character sets to trick people into visiting phishing websites.
The non-English characters allow scammers to create “lookalike” sites with domain names almost indistinguishable from legitimate ones.
Farsight Security found scam sites posing as banks, loan advisers and children’s brands Lego and Haribo.
Smartphone users are at greater risk as small screens make lookalikes even harder to spot.
The Farsight Security report looked at more than 100 million domain names that use non-English character sets – introduced to make the net more familiar and usable for non-English speaking nations – and found about 27% of them had been created by scammers.
It also uncovered more than 8,000 separate characters that could be abused to confuse people.
Farsight founder Paul Vixie, who wrote much of the software underpinning the net’s domain names told the BBC: “Any lower case letter can be represented by as many as 40 different variations.”
And many internationalised versions added just a tiny fleck or mark that was not easy to see.
Eldar Tuvey, founder and head of security company Wandera, said it had also seen an upsurge in phishing domains using different ways of forming characters.
In particular, it had seen an almost doubling of the number of scam domains created using an encoding system called punycode over the past few months.
And phishing gangs were using messages sent via mobile apps to tempt people into clicking on the similar-looking links.
“They are targeting specific groups,” Mr Tuvey said.
And research had established people were three times more likely to fall for a phishing scam presented on their phone.
“To phish someone, you just have to fool them once,” Mr Tuvey said. “Tricking them into installing malware is much more work.”
INSTAGRAM’S NEW LONG-FORM VIDEO HUB IGTV TAKES ON YOUTUBE
Prepare to spend a lot more time on Instagram.
The Facebook ()-owned platform is rolling out a new hub for long-form, vertical video. Instagram announced the new feature at a press event on Wednesday.
The hub, called IGTV, will live within the regular Instagram app. It will also get its own standalone app in the coming days.
Anyone will be able to post to IGTV, but Instagram users with 10,000 followers or more will be able to post videos up to an hour long. Users with fewer followers can post up to 10 minutes of video. Instagram video posts were previously capped at 60 seconds.
The company has tapped celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and Selena Gomez who will be among the first to upload longer-form content to their accounts on Wednesday.
In addition to IGTV, CEO Kevin Systrom announced a company milestone: 1 billion monthly active users now use Instagram, up from 800,000 active users in September.
IGTV is reminiscent of Snapchat’s Discover page, which features stories from publishers and creators, and curated posts from itscommunity. Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, launched Discover in 2015 with a number of media partners, including CNN and Buzzfeed. It paid licensing fees to publishers up until recently when it reportedly shifted to an ad-based model only.
“Ads will not be part of IGTV at launch, but we’ll be exploring and test ways to help creators monetize after launch,” a spokesperson told CNNMoney.
Analysts are also comparing IGTV to Google-owned video platform YouTube.
According to media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG, Instagram users were already using its Stories feature to link out to YouTube to direct followers to longer-form videos.
“Now, Instagram can keep that in-house, and drive greater engagement and time spent,” Greenfield told CNNMoney. “I think this is a natural evolution from pictures to video, to stories and now to long-form video to capture as much human attention as possible.”
Instagrammers are spending more time than ever looking at photos, videos and memes, the company previously told CNNMoney. Users under the age of 25 now spend more than 32 minutes each day on the platform, while users age 25 and older use the app for more than 24 minutes.
While IGTV may lead people to spend more time on Instagram, Systrom previously promised to roll out a tool that will tally time spent on its app.
“Any time should be positive and intentional,” he tweeted last month.