Asia pumps up Facebook

With growth flatlining in Europe and North America, there's a new urgency to focus on how to get more revenue from growing regions like Asia

A week or so ago, I wrote about how India could be a key country for Facebook’s growth —in short, because of flatlining growth  in the West, India's mammoth 1.3 billion potential customers and the fact that China has banned the social network, the outfit really has no other big fish to rely on to expand its empire.

This post is an addendum to that one, and looks at the company Asia numbers in context to the previous post. It must be a source of immense satisfaction to realise that Asia is rising to the occasion, at least in terms of user growth, if not in revenue per user growth. Facebook's numbers, which I first stumbled upon in Techinasia can be accessed directly here. But in short here are the all-important metrics: 

Asia grew from 390 million monthly active users in Asia to 410 million over the last two quarters (2014 Q1 to Q2)—a little under a third of 1.317 billion that the company has logged the world over. The US and Canada on the other hand went from 202 to 204 million users during the same time period while Europe went from 289 to 292 million. In other words, Asia recorded 30 million users in four months versus just 2 million in North America and 3 million in Europe.

Asia records impressive user growth...


Clearly, this is the kind of growth that the social network needs to stay relevant in the world and I imagine India, which recently crossed the 100 million user mark—the highest number of Facebook users outside of the US—and growing at a 40 percent clip, is an important part of this story. 

In terms of cold hard cash, that story is not so impressive. As techinasia notes, Asian users recorded a new high by crossing US$1 average revenue per user by logging US$1.08 from each Asian user but this pales in comparison to the US$6.44 milked from North American users and US$2.84 from European users. In both cases most of this was revenue from advertising but in Asia's case that amount is a paltry 6 US cents. In Asia's case, however, the growth in revenue has also been quite slow so Facebook will be looking to do whatever it can to pump those numbers up.

...but has some work to do in the revenue growth department

The problem as I explained in my previous piece is that these big markets don't quite mean big money for outfits like Facebook. Which is why the company has been on a spree signing partnerships that could pump up its revenue stream from online advertising. One method, as I mentioned previously, is to experiment with new ways of luring customers by leveraging perhaps the most famous cell phone user phenomenon in Indian telecom history—the missed call, where an accepted way of signaling someone to call them back and shoulder the burden for the call is by calling and hanging up instantly. On Facebook, users can click a button on an advertiser and hang up after which the advertiser returns the call.

Tough to say how much this new service will impact Facebook, but the social network will hope that it clicks so that it has one more weapon in its arsenal to target those Asia dollars.