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 is working on a new messaging app
Rivaling Snapchat, Threads will enable users to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with their IG ‘close friends’ list
Now Facebook is a wasteland for your racist aunt and high school friends’ wedding photos, the platform is determined to maintain its social media stronghold via Instagram and WhatsApp (sorry, ‘Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook’). Its latest venture? A new messaging app called Threads.
As reported by The Verge, Threads will be a companion app to Instagram, promoting constant sharing between users and their IG ‘close friends’ list. The app will enable people to automatically share their location, movements, and battery life with each other, as well as send text, photo, and video messages.
The development could be seen as another attempt to rival Snapchat – which already lets users share their location – following Instagram’s introduction of Stories three years ago.
Instagram has been trying to develop the messaging side of its app since late 2017 when the company started working on Direct, a standalone camera-first app exclusively for DMs. The platform ceased work in May this year after research revealed users found it frustrating to switch apps when they wanted to send a message – although this is exactly what happened with Facebook Messenger in 2016.
Screenshots acquired by The Verge show that users have the option to switch on automatic sharing, but are also able to update their statuses manually. Although Threads encourages friends to share their location with one another, it will reportedly show updates like ‘on the move’, rather than a real-time location.
The app’s main feed will show all messages, as well as friends’ updates and active status, and will allow users to watch their close friends’ IG stories as opposed to having to go back to Instagram to view them.
This announcement comes after a number of updates to the platform, including the removal of likes, an anti-bullying feature, and a tool to report fake news. Although, there’s currently no launch date for Threads, and given Instagram’s history with fucked-up trials, it may never even materialise.
Massive change coming to WhatsApp with introduction of ads
WhatsApp will see a massive change by 2020 with the introduction of adverts into the instant messaging app.
It’s been rumoured for a while and now WhatsApp looks set to finally bring adverts to its popular messaging app.
The Facebook-owned firm revealed the news during its annual Marking Summit in the Netherlands, with a rollout expected next year.
Photos of the way these new adverts will look have even been posted online with attendee Olivier Ponteville, giving fans a closer look at what’s to come.
The image, which can be seen on Twitter, shows how ads currently appear on Facebook and Instagram with a WhatsApp screenshot then revealed with a full-screen advert.
According to technology website BGR, once the message appears users will be able to “swipe up when an ad appears for more information about the product or service being advertised.”
Adverts in WhatsApp have been spoken about for a while but this is the first evidence that things are changing within the popular service.
How fans react is yet to been seen but it’s unlikely to go down well with its billions of users.
The bad news is that it seems there’s nothing that can be done to stop this new feature from arriving within the app.
It seems almost certain that there will be no way to switch them off or hide these paid-for messages which may prove to be hugely irritating.
Facebook Messenger finally adds quoted replies
Today Facebook Messenger has added a sorely missing feature – quoted replies. This allows you to reply to a specific message in a conversation, and is incredibly helpful when you’re engaged in chats that have a big range of topics. Using the new feature, the people you’re talking to will now know exactly what you were replying to with that “LOL”, for example.
This has been a feature in WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, for a very long time, and it’s always been sort of a baffling omission in Messenger. So it’s good to finally see it there too.
In order to quote a specific message, long tap on it and you’ll see a new Reply button to the right of the reaction emojis. Tap that, write your reply, and, just like in WhatsApp, the message you’re replying to will appear above your reply. Easy. This potentially means you’ll have less misunderstandings with your friends as to which message was referencing what.
The feature is rolling out now on both iOS and Android.
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