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The opportunity in emerging markets, part two.

The author

Patrick Manderson

SEO Strategist

As internet and mobile penetration matures in search and advertising markets which we may be more used to dealing with, we must now look forwards; to how we can unlock potential in emerging markets. 

Following on from our previous blog post which looked at Google’s Building For Billions Framework, we’ll now look at what factors we can incorporate into our daily work, regardless of target market.

What can we learn from developing for emerging markets?

The potential lessons to be learnt from the Billions Framework are vast, so we will focus on four main areas: connectivity, web technologies, user devices and localisation. 


Connectivity is widely seen as the most pressing issue in emerging markets. Though Google’s advice on creating products which work no matter what the connection, could be applied to much of the creative work we carry out day to day. After all, intermittent connectivity can be experienced on the Underground, in the countryside, or even certain corners of our own homes.

Web technologies

New technologies encouraged by Google include WebP, reinforcing the need for marketers to stay on top of the latest tech trends.

WebP is a modern image format that “provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web.” This allows developers to make the web faster though smaller, richer images.

The need to keep on top of such new technologies is now more relevant than ever. Google states that a one-second delay in page load times leads to 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

User devices

The majority of devices bought by the next billion users will be low-cost handsets, which pose a range of challenges in itself. Lower cost smartphones come with lower capacity batteries and memory – not forgetting smaller, or lower density screens.

In regards to smaller screens and resolutions, Google further encourages the use of SVG files for web elements. These vectors can be rendered to any resolution, with one smaller file supporting all screen densities. It is easy to focus on flagship devices, disregarding others – though it is increasingly critical to consider the needs of minority devices.


Finally, localisation of content is hugely important. This goes far beyond simply translating your site into the local language, though of course this a central pillar.

It is critical to support user’s locale, as well as using appropriate fonts. Well selected fonts are particularly significant with lower density screens, as smaller text can appear blurred. It is worth noting that Google has developed a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages and scripts with a consistent feel.

Points to consider

The growth in internet users in coming years is no longer coming from countries that we can share direct experiences with. These new users have entirely different experiences and relationships with the internet, and it is increasingly important to think globally when creating a product for the web.

In coming years, these markets could shift from being the minority to the majority. We must strive to understand and consider these users, as well as their relationship with the internet.

Though most importantly, we must not assume that emerging users will be using desktop at some point during their journey, if at all. Users in emerging markets are likely to not only use the internet in a “mobile first” manner, but “mobile only.”