Facebook Korea sees huge growth potential

January 2, 2015
Facebook Korea CEO Benjamin Joe (Korea Times)

Facebook Korea CEO Benjamin Joe (Korea Times)

Country manager says Korea is key for expansion

By Kim Yoo-chul

The head of Facebook Korea said the world’s top social networking site’s Korean subsidiary sees further business growth this year, as the country has a highly-engaged online population.

“Korea has always been at the forefront of growth in the region and we believe that Korea is significant for Facebook,” CEO Benjamin Joe said in a recent interview.

Stressing Korea’s success in bringing connectivity at speed by implementing nationwide broadband Internet access in the 1990s, and introducing LTE-A, the executive said Korea is the top contributor to corporate growth and profit in Asia.

“Another sign of how seriously Koreans take mobile platforms can be seen from the latest figures that we announced — over 93 percent of the 14 million Korean monthly active users (MAU) are on their mobile devices,” he said.

In addition, Korea’s cell phone replacement rate is the highest in the world, with roughly 67 percent of Koreans replacing their smartphones last year.

“Fast wireless networks reduce buffering time on large-sized online content including video clips, and enable people in Korea to engage with a rich story-telling format instead,” he said.

Video on mobile services

Regarding Facebook’s next growth engine, the executive said the corporation plans to increase its investment in video for mobile services.

Video consumption on mobile devices has grown by 532 percent and about two-thirds of Facebook videos are viewed on phones.

Since June last year, there has been an average of more than 1 billion views on Facebook every day and 76 percent of people who watch video online say Facebook is their top source for video discovery.

“A great example of Facebook video’s viral marketing effect was the case of Warner Bros. Korea. Ahead of its release of the new blockbuster sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow, Warner Bros. Korea embarked upon pre-marketing activities with the goal of reaching 1.8 million ad impressions and a 6 percent response rate. To achieve this, Warner Bros. Korea used a Facebook mobile targeting block to generate a high response rate, to increase anticipation for the movie, and eventually hit more than double its engagement target,” he said.

“People who played the video after the three-day campaign exhibited a 40 percent increase in ad recall and 43 percent increase in purchase intent. In addition, successful pre-marketing activities translated to success at the box-office,” Joe explained.

According to his observation, Korea is particularly sensitive to what he claimed is “multi-screening,” as the country has the highest digital video viewer penetration in the world, pushing Facebook’s Korea business to focus on mobile ads.

“Marketers must watch out for multi-screening. For Facebook, marketing effectiveness is an important priority, and our focus for 2015 is on advertisers getting real business results and measurement metrics from their Facebook campaigns,” said the executive.

“For example, in Korea, more than 50 percent of people on Facebook watch a video every day. This trend will continue as more than half of the spending is dedicated to Internet ad marketing in Korea. People in Korea and Facebook in Korea still have much to work on in terms of leading the world on how to fully harness the power of mobile platforms, astronomical digital video viewership rates, and the burgeoning role of the mobile ad market,” he said.

Facebook established its Korean office in 2010 and Joe has been the country manager since Dec. 2013.

The firm has 8,348 employees globally as of September this year, operates 34 subsidiaries and runs six Internet data centers with five of them in the United States and the only overseas one in Lulea, Sweden.

Facebook has become a key business partner with Samsung as Samsung Electronics is scaling back its content business by shutting down its ChatOn messaging business and other music-related ones.

Its global CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently visited Samsung Electronics headquarters and discussed with top Samsung executives including Lee Jae-yong and its mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun on how to expand bilateral partnership in mobile content and futuristic business projects.