Asia Pacific boasts a massive user base for Facebook. The social network is now keen to see ad investments beef up from companies in the region through its PMD (preferred marketing developer) program.
The region will have the fastest growth rates for Facebook use worldwide and is already leading in sheer volume of users on the social network, according to eMarketer’s estimates.
Kiran Raghavan, regional manager for PMD, relocated to Singapore in March with the task to grow the local ecosystem – a community of tech companies that will help marketers connect customers through apps, social plugins, and manage or measure ad campaign performance.
Globally, there are 260 PMDs Facebook recognizes as social experts, awarding them with badges for building tools in one or more of the four categories – Pages, Ads, Apps, and Insights.
Forty-five of these developers have presence across various capabilities in Asia Pacific, but most of them are international companies such as Adobe, Salesforce, and Alchemy Social.
“We want to balance the ecosystem and give life to developers in the region,” Raghavan tells ClickZ in a phone interview.
“To be fair to the region – having the local cultural context, knowing your customers and being able to talk to them in the same language cannot be overcompensated by an international player. And that’s why we need to build the local ecosystem and that’s why we’re doing it now,” he adds.
The PMD team’s first step in this direction is to organize its first Asia hackathon, where 10 startups will battle it out in Joyful Frog Digital Incubator’s office October 16th.
Participants include Korea-based Innobirds Media and Narrowcast, Computerlogy from Thailand, Singapore’s Social Gear, Fringe 81 from Japan, 22 Feet, and Tookitaki and GrowMint from India among others.
Raghavan points out that he’s “starting from ground zero” and what Asia lacks is local developers to build advertising APIs to help marketers create, manage, and optimize Facebook campaigns and reporting for the region.
He’s determined to identify and nurture more than 20 ads-focused developers – a mix of local and international players – within the next one to two years.
While Facebook offers its self-serve Ad Manager tool and the more advanced Power Editor, which allows marketers to manage multiple campaigns, a PMD could deliver insights that can help companies run ads more efficiently on the social platform, he explains.
Gaming and e-commerce are two of Facebook’s largest verticals in Asia Pacific.
Advertisers in these sectors want to create multiple campaigns on Facebook for their numerous products and offerings to acquire and retain customers in the long term. A PMD would be able to help them create thousands of campaigns and aggregate insights through scientific analysis.
For example, an e-commerce advertiser with experience buying traditional media could have wasted her budget experimenting potential customer segments, when a developer might already have existing platforms with tools and insights to convert the right demographics into loyal customers.
Septeni is said to be the only PMD from Asia with a Facebook ads offering for e-commerce and gaming companies.
The Japanese company has eleven local offices in the country, a subsidiary in Singapore, and in September 2012 made its foray into San Francisco, to support crossborder Facebook ads campaign from operation and planning to consulting.
Facebook also acknowledged Septeni as a mobile measurement partner that provides insights for advertisers targeting customers on mobile devices.
To grow the local ecosystem, Facebook’s PMD team will focus on three key markets in the region: Australia, Greater China, and Southeast Asia.
In Hong Kong and Taiwan, CPG, telecom, and financial services firms are using Facebook advertising to reach customers and build loyalty.
Raghavan is quick to clarify Mainland Chinese advertisers, mainly from the gaming industry as well as a small percentage of export-oriented e-commerce firms buy Facebook ads to target users in North America and Europe, not within the country.
For more data-driven advertisers, Facebook is also in the process of adding domestic partners to its FBX qualified companies’ scheme and those names will be released in the coming weeks.