Internet.org: The New Gateway to Asia
The Philippines has been the gateway to Asia since the 7th century, due to its central location and subsequent western influence. In recent years, the Philippines has evolved from being Asia’s gateway for international trade to establishing itself as a tech tiger, attracting startups and investors alike.
This newly claimed tech tiger status is based on a number of factors causing the country to appeal to businesses trying to expand their global reach. First and foremost, the Philippines is the second fastest growing economy in the world, exceeded only by China. Secondly, English is an official language and more than 55% of the country’s 100-million population speak it fluently. Lastly, advertising rates are still lower than those of similar westernized Asian countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Airbnb is a great example of companies targeting the Philippines and enjoying traction. Airbnb partnered with Smart Communications, a local Philippine mobile carrier, at the beginning of the year and ran three promotions for Smart customers that significantly increased Airbnb’s overall traffic. You can see the corresponding spikes of Philippine web traffic and overall traffic to Airbnb in the Jumpshot Traffic and Engagement graphs below.
Airbnb overall traffic for 2015:
Airbnb Philippine traffic for 2015:
Based on this use case, many would conclude that the Philippines is the country to target in order to grow globally and enter Asia. Up until a couple months ago, you would have been absolutely right.
Things change quickly in the online world, with new technology emerging in an extremely rapid pace and enabling new initiatives and business models that pave the way for internet and mobile unicorns. Internet.org is a relatively new initiative that plans to connect 5 billion people to the internet by tapping into emerging technology and establishing new business models tailored to developing countries. Connecting the unconnected is a bold ambition, with a lot of potential, which is why we decided to look into this potentially new game changer that has gradually gained momentum over the last couple of months.
Internet.org The Gateway to 5 Billion People
67% of the world’s population (that’s more than 5 billion people) are not connected to the Internet. Facebook’s Internet.org plans to bring internet to the unconnected by supplying them with free access to selected services, including social, news, weather, health, education and sport websites. Facebook partnered with Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, MediaTek and Opera Software to lower mobile internet costs and increase data efficiency, the main issues inhibiting widespread internet connectivity in developing countries. The initiative has established specific partnerships with local mobile carriers, letting them add local websites to this free browsing service. The Internet.org app also comes with a couple services, including: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Accuweather and Wikipedia.
According to recent stats from Facebook, Internet.org has been offered to over 1 billion people since its launch in August 2014 and has 9 million users to date. 9 million may not sound like a lot, with Facebook alone having more than 1.4 billion monthly active users, but it can definitely suggest and identify current and future trends. This is precisely what brought us to investigate Internet.org’s adoption, growth and effect on the websites added to the service.
India and Bangladesh Leading The Way
The first question we wanted to answer was around user adoption: Which countries generated the most amount of active users for the service? We ran a Jumpshot Site Analysis report for Internet.org and saw an astonishing 30,000% increase in traffic (!) since the beginning of the year. We also quickly identified 3 substantial traffic peaks: Feb 4th, May 11th and May 30th, as well as the beginning of an upward traffic trend on Feb 10 of 2015.
After filtering the dates and finding the relevant country that generated the traffic in the Top Countries section, we proceeded to investigate these countries and their adoption of the service. Here are our findings:
Colombians have not adopted Internet.org
The February 4th traffic spike originated in Colombia, more specifically by Tigo’s (local mobile carrier) promotion for this service. A deeper look into Colombia’s usage of Internet.org revealed that the service was not adopted in the country, as the only traffic generated was around the time of the service’s launch in Colombia and resulting from Tigo’s promotion of the service on its website and social channels.
India the first to adopt Internet.org:
Looking at the upward traffic trend that started on February 10th, 2015, we quickly identified the traffic as originating from India. Based on the Jumpshot Site Analysis report for the service’s Indian traffic we can conclude that India has adopted the service and has continued to use it since its launch on February 9th, 2015.
Our Traffic Channel section shows that leading source of traffic was Reliance Communication’s (local mobile carrier) website and Facebook page. Using our Source Paths section, we went on to identify the sources of this traffic and found that there were two main sources: the mobile carrier’s sport service and the mobile carrier’s YouTube videos promoting Internet.org.
The Cricket World Cup took place between February 14th and March 29th of 2015. The vast majority of the Indian traffic driven to the service for this time period was generated by Reliance’s free cricket news promotion, offering free sport news to customers. The main source for Indian traffic from March 30th onward is the mobile carrier’s YouTube videos promoting Internet.org.
India’s adoption of this service that supplies millions with internet access for the first time is a great example of the positive effect this service may have on the websites included in it. We found that Accuweather, one of the services included in Internet.org, has enjoyed a 44% increase in Indian mobile traffic since Internet.org’s Indian launch.
Bangladesh mostly accountable for May 11th and May 30th traffic spikes
Now, it was time to investigate and understand the May 11th traffic peak. The vast majority of the May 11th and May 30th traffic spikes originated from Bangladesh, by the local mobile carriers promotion of the service and YouTube videos promoting the service. Internet.org launched in Bangladesh on May 9th and already affected the service’s overall traffic twice.
Similar to India, we noticed that mobile traffic for Accuweather increased by 42% since the launch of Internet.org in the country.
What can we learn from this?
Every country is unique. While India and Bangladesh are examples of widespread adoption of Internet.org and other countries, like Indonesia and the Philippines, have adopted the service to an extent, there are others, like Colombia, which did not adopt the service at all.
The world is evolving around us. Emerging technology and globalization are changing our world every day. Marketers and entrepreneurs need now, more than ever, to test their assumptions and endeavors as new technology and tools emerge. The big data era is here.
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