Facebook flexed its financial muscles last week and launched a massive campaign to promote its under fire Free Basics program. The marketing campaign saw the internet giant use print, TV and outdoor on a scale rarely seen.
It has been learnt that Facebook has spent Rs 14 crore in the last week to run full page ads on Times of India and Economic Times. A person familiar with the campaign said that two full page ads were run per issue for a total of 5 days. He further added that Rs 4 crore has been allocated for a separate print campaign that will go live soon. According to a source, ads across other publications could have cost additional Rs 4 crore over the last week.
Figures for the ad money spent on TV were not available at the time of writing. However, two sources indicate that Facebook’s spends are between Rs 3-5 crore for the outdoor advertising campaign. Even the outdoor campaign is running in two phases with the initial phase focusing on the 5 metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The second phase will possibly go live from the first week of January and focus on semi-urban areas.
If we go by these figures then this means that Facebook has spent a minimum of Rs 25 crore on just these two mediums. Expenditure on TV will in most likelihood be about as much as both these combined. It should be noted here that more accurate spends will still take some time to determine as the campaign is still ongoing and these could be divergent from the figure quoted here. However, these give some idea of the effort Facebook is taking to ensure the right publicity and visibility for Free Basics.
Facebook’s attempt to get Free Basics through do not just end with this mega advertising blitz. Just yesterday, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg penned a column in Times of India, seeking to clear the air around Free Basics. Last weekend, Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org (the original version of Free Basics) participated in a Reddit AMA, answering questions posed by users on the subject of free internet, zero rating and Free Basics. The company recently conducted a door-to-door survey in India through Hansa Research and David Binder Research, where participants were exposed to both sides of the argument.
The message From Facebook is clear; Mark Zuckerberg and Co. want Free Basics to launch in India and they are doing everything possible to get the person on the street on their side before the all important TRAI decision, expected sometime in January.