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Facebook targets Indian market to boost ad revenue

Facebook is attempting to boost its advertising revenue in India after struggling in the Asian country.

The social network is offering businesses free email support regarding marketing questions and advice on how to increase sales.

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Facebook also began providing an advertising feature specific to India last year called “click to missed call.” Users simply select the feature while browsing Facebook and they will automatically call the advertiser, but hang up immediately. This saves the user from having to pay for the call and then the advertiser calls back with a pre-recorded message. According to Venture Beat, Garnier Men, an Indian subsidiary of L’Oréal has experienced a huge sales uplift as a result of the feature.

Facebook’s marketing push in the country is the result of its revenue figures trailing behind other markets. The Mark Zuckerberg-owned company has 132 million users in India, second only to its 193 million US members, but earns just 15 cents per user compared to between $7 and $8 in its native country. Its competitors are also faring better in India, with Google estimated to have brought in $350 million per quarter in contrast to Facebook’s $15 million.

The problem is not limited to Facebook alone, however. Indian advertisers remain sceptical about social networks as a valid medium and are much more likely to use television to publicise their brand.

“We really need to help them see how Facebook pages and advertising will help grow their businesses,” explained Andy Hwang, Facebook director of SMBs for the Asia Pacific region.

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Success in India also has wider ramifications for Facebook. It is viewed as a testing ground for many other emerging markets with both Facebook Lite and the company’s programme launching in the country recently. Gaining a stranglehold on the Indian market is also vitally important because of the difficulty of making inroads into the world’s most populous country, China.