Facebook is testing out a novel type of advertising in India: the "missed call" ad.
The social-networking company helmed by Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that its employees have been researching cell-phone usage in countries including India, Brazil, and Indonesia, to find out how people connect on their devices.
Facebook said it found that in India people have been using missed calls to avoid the high cost of voice calls. People dial a number and hang up before connecting to save on minutes, with the missed calls signaling to friends or family a simple message such as "I'm outside." The practice is apparently so common that some businesses have started sending recordings or SMS messages to people who place a missed call to them.
Facebook said it is trying to piggyback off that concept in its advertising. When a person sees an ad on Facebook, he or she can place a "missed call" by clicking on the ad on their mobile device. In the return call, the person will receive content, such as music, and a message from the advertiser, without using airtime or data.
"We've seen positive results in early tests with advertisers like Garnier Men and plan to scale this product in the coming months," Facebook said.
The localized approach could help Facebook build up its ad revenue in specific regions, helping the company expand a critical part of its business. Mobile ads have quickly become Facebook's biggest advertising moneymaker, with mobile representing about 59 percent of total ad revenue in the first quarter, up from about 30 percent a year earlier.