Facebook – the social network that counts 864 million daily users and 703 million mobile daily users, is still one of the most popular social network. With mobile driving users and revenues, Facebook once again beat all projections by making $3.2B in revenues. However, Asia which CEO Mark Zuckerberg considers a big untapped market, is yet to yield revenues like the developed markets.

To meet this challenge, last year Facebook had introduced an ad product built around the missed call feature. Taking it further, Facebook has partnered with VivaConnect for its missed call platform in India. VivaConnect – India’s largest infrastructure for voice & missed call services further states that this is Facebook’s first foray into the mobile platform, aimed specifically at helping advertisers reach their consumers in developing markets.

Missed call – a common feature to save costs, whereby the caller calls the person and hangs up after a ring or two. This is kind of an indication to the other party that they are currently outside and/or request for a return call. During the launch of the product last year, Facebook stated that, “When a person sees an ad on Facebook they can place a “missed call” by clicking the ad from their mobile device. In the return call, the person receives valuable content, such as music, cricket scores or celebrity messages, alongside a brand message from the advertiser — all without using airtime or data.”

Revenue problem in India

Facebook has been focusing on emerging markets for quite some time with innovative ideas, Internet.org is one of them. Facebook has seen some early results, in India it has now 100M monthly active users out of which 84M access the social network via mobile.

But the challenge has been to spike up revenues from emerging countries. A recent ET story reported that India market accounts for less than 0.1% of Facebook’s revenues. This is what Facebook wants to change and with organic reach dead, the networking giant needs to convince bigger brands to shell out more budgets by showcasing business returns.

One of the primary reasons why Facebook has performed badly on the revenues side is due to the country’s infrastructure. Although India has been the actively growing smartphone market in Asia, it is still dominated by feature phones, a market where Facebook’s targeted advanced advertising products fail to work.

VivaConnect is hoping that the combination of user’s social data assembled over Facebook and the reach offered by VivaConnect’s missed call platform, together will allow brands to effectively target their consumers with the right kind of advertising.

The company states in it’s release that, “Content will be personalized effectively, matching up the highly diverse Indian user base. Also, mobile access will grant an individual reach for re-targeting consumers in brand’s subsequent activities.”

Earlier initiatives around missed call

VivaConnect might state that this is the first move by Facebook but the social network has already tested the product with Gillette India and has got sizable results to subsequently pitch to other brands. Gillette used Facebook Ads on feature phones to drive measurable awareness of its new Vector 3 razor among its target group in India. The campaign reached a target audience of more than 60%.

Another similar campaign for Garnier Men India in collaboration with ZipDial was also executed with the objective to drive sales. Facebook created a click to missed call ad campaign for Garnier Men, in partnership with ZipDial, to use in its IPL contest campaign. After clicking and dialing, the user continued to engage with the brand’s content, therefore driving downstream impact and business results for the advertiser even when the user is offline.

End results were encouraging, Facebook’s click to missed call ad unit generated 16X more calls than all other digital and print media combined. Besides cost per call on Facebook was 94% more efficient than other digital and print media combined.

Clearly Facebook wants to monetize its feature phone user base. The journey started from last year when Facebook provided advertisers with the ability to place and target ads on feature phones. Since then, Facebook has improved ad delivery by optimizing for low-bandwidth connections and offered enhanced features that give brands more storytelling options.

Facebook is now planning to expand the ad feature to other emerging markets where roughly 7 out of every 10 people in countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Nigeria, use far simpler devices like feature phones to access the Internet.

Tying up with platforms like VivaConnect enables Facebook to scale up its Missed Call ad feature with a large variety of brands who might be interested in reaching out to the Tier 2 and 3 masses, thereby creating a continuous pipeline of revenues from emerging markets like India.