Facebook ‘Missed Call’ Ads – Innovative or Useless?

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The phrase ‘missed call’ sounds pretty self-explanatory i.e someone tried to call you, you couldn’t pick it up for whatever reason and the call was missed. For the people of India, however, the phrase means something completely different. So different in fact that what someone else may perceive as a failed attempt at communication, they’ll communicate via missed calls.

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To fully understand the method, we must focus on the fact that India is only recently embracing 4g technology in some of its cities. Hence, many people in India do not use their smartphone for their internet capabilities. They more frequently place calls occlr texts through a prepaid or post-paid service provider at the expense of their phone credit. They mostly spend their credit to place or receive calls and send messages.

While it does possess internet capabilities, it is at the expense of their credit and for a limited time, you may find that you’ve spent all your credit on nothing more than searching for something on Google. Smartphones are slowly becoming more popular in India, but the keyword here is slowly. Yet, the capacity of using a smartphone is limited to what a feature phone does unless accessed to a 4g network.

Prepaid/Postpaid Services and Balance:

To go back to missed calls, feature phones require prepaid or postpaid services to continuously recharge your phone account. You use the balance in your phone account and place calls of varying length accordingly. Sometimes the situation may arise where you need to communicate with another person via your phone, but your balance is insufficient for a longer call. In these cases, the concerned person simply places a ‘missed call’. Hence, by spending no balance of his own from his account, he still managed to get the other person’s attention and they’ll call back as soon as they can. If you were to live in another country, along with calling the person, you could’ve texted, face timed etc as well. Here, the only two methods of correspondence are either call or text — both require balance.

Facebook Marketing Strategies:

Despite taking origin in the United States, Facebook has gained much more popularity in Asian countries primarily India and Thailand. Asian countries contribute to nearly sixty-six percent of total Facebook users. India specifically has nearly five million active Facebook accounts. However, the revenue generated from these countries was estimated as no more than thirty-three percent of the total revenue. Money is made through ads. Ads are severely disliked by users. They get in the way and agitate a person if they appear constantly on the screen. The problem is incredibly complex, but one that has to be solved for major profit – make advertisements more likable.

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Since Asia contributes more in number of active accounts, if a way was developed somehow in generating maximum revenue from these Asia than the charts would plummet through the roofs! The problem was that advertisements are severely disliked and not many people stop to read whatever is advertised (hardly anyone at all). An advertisement is seen as a nuisance and if it were up to the people, they would’ve been long gone. However, if you take away the advertisements, you take away Facebook’s profits.

An innovative approach was to be taken to make advertisements seem more attractive to the public. An idea that made them actually click on links or be intrigued by the concept. Specifically targeting the people of India, the ‘missed call’ ads were developed.

‘Missed Call’ Ads:

The term ‘missed call’ is immensely popular in India, but what exactly is a missed call ad? Facebook developed an innovative new approach to target a larger audience and develop more revenue. If the people of India constitute to their revenue on a scale expected of such numerous users, then Facebook would make twice as much from any other country. The advertisement had to catch the user’s eye. Thus, a missed call ad was developed.

Basically, a simple ad will pop up as it traditionally does. However, instead of featuring everything onto that one tiny pop up, users will have the option of clicking on that ad to place a call to the agency. This call will not come from the users own account, instead it’ll only send a ‘missed call’. The agency will then call the user back and an automated response would be played. This response would specify the product type, prices, features, companies etc. This will only happen for the advertisements you choose to click on. No advertising agency will place a call if you simply scroll past their ad.

Privacy concerns:

The first thing anyone is concerned about when going online is their privacy. Some people tend to enjoy their privacy a little more than others, yet everyone feels that certain aspects are better left not disclosed. Facebook has had numerous privacy concerns in the past. After each concern, Facebook would adapt a new method to eradicate that concern, but in the meanwhile another one would come about. The cycle would go on and on until people learned to co-exist or to stop using Facebook completely. Mostly, it would be the latter.

Facebook adopted a staunch policy to maintain their user’s rights to privacy. Strict measures were taken if anyone breached their terms and conditions. However, in many cases the advertisements themselves provided a threat to the user’s security. Clicking on links would ultimately access the users Facebook profiles to that agency and it would result in unwanted emails or text messages from the advertisers.

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By the ‘missed call’ ad, concern was once again raised at how it might affect the user’s privacy. Facebook backed their innovation right down to the minutest details and firmly believed that it would not in any way pose as a threat to the user. However, users are skeptical about the idea of an agency calling them. Say they click and the agency calls the first time, who’s to say they won’t a second time unannounced? Technically, you gave them permission once. In fact, you asked them yourself. That’s more than enough for them.

Strategies in the past:

Turning something people detest into something they’ll even moderately tolerate is an excruciating task. Facebook should get props for at least opening up the possibility of users casting a second glance at these advertisements, but that’s still not enough. The ‘missed call’ ad is a relatively newer concept. In the past, the social media team adopted various innovative methods to catch the user’s eye. These included advertisements designed as Facebook pages in your recommended feed, advertisements popping out of nowhere while you’re watching a video and ads within articles. They tried to be subtle, but the advertisement kept feeling too forced for the ordinary user. That’s why Facebook feels that the missed call ad might remove this feeling. You’ll only get the ad you click on. It’s up to you.

Discussions on whether it’ll work or not:

Frankly, many people believe that this new ad concept will be more useless than innovative. There are quite a number of reasons why people think that. Firstly, no Facebook user wants the method for anything to be anymore complicated than it seems. Facebook stood by this concept as being as effortless as possible; however, many analysts believe that this won’t be possible. If anything, Facebook is over complicating a simple ad. Sure, the user clicks on it themselves, but for how long? It seems like a new idea so people are all for it at first. Gradually, they drift away from it and then stop all together. The concept was developed specifically for the Indian people. If it doesn’t gain wind in India, it most certainly won’t in any other country. It worked well and small business like dress for cute kids clothes online, quick services business are all developed based on this platforms and reached the destination.

To Conclude:

India contributes largely to the number of active Facebook accounts but less to the revenue for Facebook. The problem lies in advertisements not being attractive enough to catch the user’s attention. To solve the problem, Facebook developed the ‘missed call’ ad concept which is based on a well-known terminology in India. The advertising technique is new and catered specifically for the people of India. You click on the advertisement and a missed call is placed on the agency’s server after which a call is placed to you and an automated response is played which specifies what you clicked on. The debate on whether this will be successful is still going on. Many are in favor of the concept and many are against it. It’ll all come down to what the charts say.

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