Brent Smart, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, said, “Great advertising requires us to take great risks.” Brands are always looking for ways to stand out. So I was both surprised and impressed to learn that the Internet.org initiative is the brainchild of Facebook in partnership with communication companies like Samsung, Nokia, and Qualcomm. The goal of Internet.org is inspirational and refreshingly straightforward — provide Internet access to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have it. Internet.org is a risk, but it’s one worth pursuing.
Critics may say “Yeah, but it’s so self-serving. This way Facebook can have more users, and therefore create a larger audience to sell its ad space for more money.” But consider for a moment if the Internet is categorized as a commodity. Think about what it has meant for developed nations to have access to information and people whenever, wherever and with whomever we want. Now strip all that away, and consider a world where great ideas can’t be shared. Where innovations and brilliance go unnoticed and undeveloped.
Welcome to the majority of Planet Earth.
There is a lot of criticism and scrutiny focused on Internet.org, and some of it is fair. This will directly impact new users and incremental revenue growth for Facebook. But so what? This is an example of marketing utility, and an example of when marketing can actually positively influence millions of people — literally.
Internet.org opens up so many opportunities. Not only to connect the non-connected. And not only a way to help ideas come to life faster. But more opportunities for brands to find new meaning in many parts of the world previously untapped. However, marketers must tread softly and responsibly.
Internet.org aims to erase barriers to Internet connection, such as cost, availability, bandwidth, and confusion. This initiative has tremendous implications for the progression to a better world for ourselves and our children — if embraced responsibly. Access to the Internet can make the world smarter, healthier, and even more peaceful. Connecting those off the grid to information can create a true movement toward a stronger global society and a more sustainable future.
Internet.org is a movement, a partnership, among Facebook and other communication companies that recognize the value of a better-informed, better-connected world. Sure, it faces a lot of criticism, skepticism, and maybe even fear. But, with Internet.org, Facebook may actually save the world, one connection at a time.
Tell us how you see Internet.org shaping our global future.