NEW DELHI: Facebook now has more than 100 million active users in India and is set to take a greater share of the country's digital advertising expenditure.
The social networking site's global user base has doubled in the past three years but has grown more than fivefold in India, making that country its second largest market after the US.
"Now, we look forward to 1 billion in India," Javier Olivan, the company official in charge of global growth, told the Economic Times. "That's a different focus and challenge."
Progress towards this goal is likely to be rapid, at least initially. "It's inevitable that India will be [Facebook's] largest market in terms of daily active users and that will likely happen this year," Nathan Eagle, chief executive of Jana, a technology developer, told the Financial Times.
Much of the growth is expected to come from mobile users moving online – the total number of mobile internet users in India is projected to reach 185 million in mid-2014 and already around 84% of Facebook's Indian users access the site via mobile.
While monetisation is not a current priority – average revenue per user in Asia is $0.60 compared to $3.50 in North America – the sheer numbers are sure to prove attractive to advertisers.
"At 100 million users, Facebook is valuable to any marketer," said Jitender Miglani, social media analyst at Forrester Research. "It will attract a lot of share of digital ad spending."
This will likely come from international brands – Eagle noted that "large global brands are doubling down".
He said that companies such as Unilever knew their future revenue growth was not coming in North America. "Their future business depends on countries such as India," he said.
Data sourced from Economic Times, Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff