Facebook has opened its first sales office in Africa, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company said Monday. The goal is to capitalize on Africa's 200 million internet users, 60 percent of whom are already on Facebook.
The South African office will work with brands across the continent to tap into the growing consumer market to create native targeted ads.
"We know that a one-size-fits-all approach won't work when it comes to building products and solutions that address diverse needs on the continent, which is why we are committed to creating solutions tailored to people, businesses and specifically for African markets," said Ari Kesisoglu, regional director, Middle East North Africa for Facebook.
Facebook has 120 million users in Africa, with 80 percent of those users connecting via mobile devices. Africa is a mobile-first continent, with many people accessing the internet using feature phones.
Cheaper handsets, data plans and improved internet connections mean that Facebook, Twitter and other services can reach both the growing number of middle-class consumers as well as remote villagers. "Mobile is not a trend; it's the fastest development in communications we've ever seen. This couldn't be more true in Africa, where so many people are mobile-only," said Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Facebook has been working with big brands, including Coca-Cola in Kenya and Virgin Mobile in South Africa, to create native ads tailored towards those audiences. Coke's Facebook campaign was designed to remind users of things that make Kenya great, with photos and the hashtag #KenyanHappiness. Facebook partnered with Nielsen to measure the impact of those ads and found that compared to similar campaigns, ad recall increased by 18 percent and users who saw the ads were 64 percent more likely to buy a Coke. Virgin Mobile's ad campaign, which was specifically designed for low-tech feature phones, reached more than 3 million people and ad recall increased by 11 percent.