Facebook’s newly appointed India MD, Umang Bedi, has reiterated that India is the most important market for the company. Speaking to media for the first time since his appointment in July, he said, “If you talk to any of my counterparts in Asia Pacific or Menlo Park (Facebook global HQ); there is a unified vision that India is the most critical and strategic market for Facebook.”
Quoting 2015 Deloitte study, he said that Facebook had contributed $4 billion to the Indian economy and created 335,000 jobs so far.
However, he would not divulge any information about how much India contributes to the company’s revenue. “APAC is the fastest growing in terms of revenue and India is a huge strategic part of it. This is unlikely to change in the next 5 years,” he added.
Speaking about the strategy for India from a business standpoint Bedi said, “We have been traditionally focused on e-commerce and FMCG. Since I have joined we have adopted a key vertical focus with dedicated teams working on 8 verticals - e-commerce, retail, travel, financial services, tech, telecom and auto.”
According to Q3 figures, Facebook sees 166 million Monthly Active Users (MAU), 159 million mobile MAU, 85 million Daily Active Users (DAU) and 81 million mobile DAU. This makes it the second biggest market for Facebook globally and the fastest growing, with nearly 95 per cent ( MAU and DAU) accessing Facebook through the mobile. India has also emerged as the number one market for other Facebook products like Slideshow, Whatsapp (160 million MAU) and Canvas as well as the second largest market for Facebook Blueprint, it's advertising training module and among the top markets for Facebook Workplace, it's enterprise version.
“Of the next 1 billion users that come on the mobile, 70 per cent will come from Asia, which equals 700 million. Of this, 337 million will come from India,” he stated.
He pointed to campaigns run by Durex, Veet, Tata Housing, Samsung and others as examples of campaigns that provided business value to brands in the form of tangible sales results while further stating that Facebook is looking at popularizing a mobile first approach for brand campaigns.
When asked whether Facebook has seen a hit in revenues due to demonetization, he said, “Curbing black money is the need of the hour as it helps drive sustainable economic growth. I would not comment on the mechanism and how it is being executed but all I can say is that in the long run if it were to help eradicate black money and drive more digital payments, it helps bring better governance and better transparency.”
Bedi would not comment on whether the company has plans to bring Facebook Marketplaces, the digital classifieds platform, which has currently been launched in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia, to India.
However, on the issue of FreeBasics, he said, “TRAI has banned zero rating. We respect the law and abide by it.”
Recently, Facebook had received flak from some quarters after it was revealed that company had been overstating certain metrics to advertisers. However, while acknowledging the issue, Bedi said that the company has worked to fix it. “We believe in complete transparency. In India we have the India client council and the India SMS council. We share this information with them even before it was publicly made available. The good news is that the metrics did not affect the money they had spent with us but our Indian clients have appreciated the transparency,” he said.