Business

Facebook sets up Singapore team for China ad business

SAN FRANCISCO : Facebook is setting up a new engineering team in Singapore to focus on its lucrative China advertising business, according to three people familiar with the effort, even as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ramps up criticism of a country that blocks the social network.

The team at Facebook's Asia-Pacific headquarters is tasked with developing better ad-buying tools for Chinese customers who have to work around Internet restrictions in China known as the "great firewall", the sources said.

One of the people described it as Facebook's first significant attempt at developing regionally localised ads tools outside of its Silicon Valley headquarters, where China-related engineering work previously took place.

Facebook confirmed the creation of the new team, describing it as having an "Asia-first" mission and consisting of both product and "business integrity" sub-teams. Its existence has not previously been reported. A spokesman said the team would serve "Asia as well as our global advertisers".

Facebook sells more than US$5 billion (S$6.8 billion) a year worth of ad space to Chinese businesses and government agencies looking to promote their messages abroad, analysts estimated.

That makes China Facebook's biggest country for revenue after the US, which delivered US$24.1 billion in advertising sales in 2018.

With Beijing aware its businesses must operate beyond the "great firewall" to grow, Facebook is positioning itself as the conduit for them to reach global audiences.

"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. - REUTERS

BUSINESS & FINANCE