Facebook appears to be taking a vertical-centric approach to its business in India and is currently hiring heads for e-commerce, FMCG & Retail business, and Managers for Agency Partnerships and Marketing Communications.
What’s interesting is that most of the new hirings in sales are for Mumbai, a key hub for advertising and media and India’s financial capital. Director of Online Operations and Head of Office India at Facebook, Kirthiga Reddy has also re-located to Mumbai to focus on ad agencies and big clients. Mumbai is probably going to be the centre for Facebook’s sales operations, though it is also hiring in sales in Delhi, the company told MediaNama.
It’s worth noting that much of Twitter’s business operations in India is based out of Mumbai, where its India head Rishi Jaitley is based. Rajan Anandan, Country Manager (India) for Google, is based in Delhi, while Facebook has largely operated out of Hyderabad till now.
Impact On Third Party Sellers
Facebook is taking a vertical specific approach to growing sales. Facebook India sales hires will be expected to influential people in each vertical, to get them to advertise on the social network. They will need to make sales presentations and upsell existing customers with high potential, analyze campaign performance statistics and recommend optimized media solutions for new and existing clients, ensure that the clients receive highest level of sales and operational customer service, among others. It’s a little surprising that the company is hiring a head of e-commerce in Mumbai given that large number of ecommerce companies operate out of Bangalore.
What will be particularly interesting is the impact that this has on third party service providers like Komli Media, which used to exclusively sell inventory for Facebook in India, once Facebook gets more feet on the street. I’m reminded of a similar sales deal that LinkedIn had with NetworkPlay, which eventually wasn’t renewed after LinkedIn created built its own India sales team. Komli currently sells inventory for Twitter in India, and this might end up being a stop-gap arrangement as Twitter builds out its India business.
Facebook’s Growth in India
According to a study, India is growing faster than western markets when it comes to adoption of the social network with 43.8% new sign ups as opposed to 3.7% in US. In August 2013, Facebook had announced that it has 82 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India for the quarter ending June 31, 2013. India accounted for 7% of Facebook’s user base, globally.
The company has adopted a mobile first approach in India this year, and launched a programme called ‘Facebook for Every Phone’, to create an app which delivers smartphone-like Facebook experience on feature phones in Hindi and other Indian languages including Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi. It had also struck deals with Airtel, Reliance, Aircel and Idea for allowing their subscribers to surf Facebook. That said, it needs to be pointed out that Facebook has been struggling to monetise usage on mobile app.
In Q3 2013 Asia contributed $255 million in advertising revenue for the quarter while US & Canada continues to generate the highest advertising revenue for Facebook, registering $832 million revenues for the quarter. Advertising revenue accounts for 89% of Facebook revenues. The contribution of Mobile advertising increased significantly to 49% of Facebook’s total advertising revenues for the quarter, up from 14% in the previous quarter.
with inputs from NT Balanarayan