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Facebook Sets Up Engineering Team In Singapore To Capture Chinese Ad Market

Facebook Sets Up Engineering Team In Singapore To Capture Chinese Ad Market
Even as the chief executive of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has recently increased his criticism of China for blocking the social media network, a new engineering team is being set up by Facebook in Singapore with the aim of attracting and tapping into the lucrative China advertising business, said reports quoting people with knowledge of the matter.
The reports said that developing better ad-buying tools for Chinese customers who have to find out ways to get past the internet restrictions in China known as the “great firewall” to be able to advertise on online platforms banned in the country, is the aim of the setting up of the  team at Facebook’s Asia-Pacific headquarters.
Analysts and sources describe this effort by Facebook as being first attempt of any significance for the social media platform to develop regionally localized ads tools outside of its Silicon Valley headquarters where engineers had previously designed China-related engineering work.
Describing the measure as having an “Asia-first” mission and one that comprises of both product and “business integrity” sub-teams, Facebook confirmed the creation of the new team. Here had been no previous reports of existence of such a team in Singapore.
The team would serve “Asia as well as our global advertisers”, a spokeswoman for the company told the media.
According to estimates of analysts, the value of the ad space sold by Facebook to Chinese businesses and government agencies seeking to promote their messages abroad is more than $5 billion a year. That means that the ad revenues generated from China id the second largest for the company after the United States. In 2018, Facebook reported advertising sales from the United States to be worth $24.1 billion.
After making a much hyped visit to China in 2016, Zuckerberg had once hoped that China would allow Facebook to operate freely. He had also pledged that he would learn Mandarin. The company has also sent its product managers to China on “knowledge-exchange” trips where they exchanged expertise with counterparts at companies like Tencent and Alibaba over aspects such as app features and advertising tools, said reports.
However the increasing restrictiveness of preventing foreign internet companies in China by authorities there had dashed Facebook’s China dreams. That was compounded by the US-China trade war and political tensions between the two countries.  
However it is now abundantly clear that Facebook is still focused on increasing its ad business interest in China. It has been reported that Chinese companies in industries including fashion, social media and gaming are eager to reach out to foreign markets through online promotions. And this opportunity is what Facebook is waiting for – to become a conduit for the Chinese companies to reach out abroad, even as there is a reported awareness in Beijing about the need for its businesses to operate beyond the “great firewall” for growth.
“Facebook is committed to becoming the best marketing platform for Chinese companies going abroad,” Facebook wrote in Chinese on local social network WeChat in November.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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