Before our team launched AdSense in a new language at Google, we familiarized ourselves with the landscape of websites in the country, each one uniquely representative of the culture. The largest site in South Korea, Naver capitalized on the dearth of Korean content on the web and released a Q&A site which exploded in popularity and later became the cornerstone for the continued growth of the service into email, editorial content and games – all the elements of a full portal. 

Replicating this model in Africa, Google has launched called Baraza, Swahili for council. Sites like Baraza and Naver leverage the same social dynamics that have ignited growth for Facebook, Posterous and Twitter among many others resulting in thriving portals. 

  1. These sites create a corpus of content that satisfies a need. In early internet markets, the need is highly informational either facts or reviews and opinions. As the internet matures, the corpus evolves to photos (Facebook) and rich media (Posterous).
  2. The corpus, generated by a collection of users, engenders a community around the content. The initial Q&A product evolves to support messaging and communication.
  3. As more content is created and users expand the community, the site becomes a hub.
  4. The combination of content and communication creates a market place where businesses and individuals want to be seen and heard, creating the opportunity for promotion.

In this way, a website can enable a reinforcing cycle of growth. With 2B people on the internet this year and 5B on mobile phones, the Naver model will be brought to many new regions and languages. It is very exciting to see this model launched in Africa.