Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has discussed the opportunities for advertisers – or lack of them – with the Internet.org initiative he launched in 2013.
While he didn't rule out ads being part of the the project's future, Zuckerberg told Bloomberg: "I’m not sure it’s a big part of the solution in the near term, to be honest".
Through partnerships with Ericsson, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung and more, Internet.org's mission statement is to bring internet access to the billions of unconnected people in developing markets, particularly in Asia and Africa.
"In a lot of these countries, there isn’t a very big ad market yet," said Zuckerberg.
While Internet.org is working "with operators and governments and local partners" to discover a mutually profitable business model, according to Zuckerberg, for now the focus is on paid subscriptions, rather than an ad-supported model.
"What we have found in some of these early countries that we have worked in – Indonesia, the Philippines, Zambia, Kenya – is you offer a little bit of the Internet free, and more people start using data, and more people can access the internet and access these tools, but also more people start paying for data once they understand what they would use the internet for," said Zuckerberg.