Saturday 17 March 2018

Twitter looking to court Chinese advertisers despite being blocked in the country

A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California
A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California

Despite being blocked in China, Twitter is courting Chinese companies to buy advertising space on its service used by more than 300 million people elsewhere in the world.

This week, the popular microblog platform has made presentations to prospective Chinese clients in Shanghai on the sidelines of the inaugural Consumer Electronics Show Asia.

"It's not a coincidence that we are here now," said Peter Greenberger, director of sales for emerging markets at Twitter.

"This seems to be a moment in time where Chinese corporations really feel the urge to be global and in fact, there's even a mandate from the government saying 'go global', which is exciting."

The San Francisco-based company already works with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, online shopping giant Alibaba Group, white goods producer Qingdao Haier and flag carrier Air China to target customers abroad.

Twitter collected $436m in first-quarter revenue from advertisers who paid to inject their ads, known as "promoted tweets", in to Twitter users' timelines. The company has 302 million users worldwide.

The Chinese authorities have rendered the microblog unavailable in China without a virtual private network since 2009. Still, Chinese entities, including the state news agency Xinhua, use the platform to reach audiences abroad.

Domestically, the Sina Weibo microblogging platform and Tencent's  WeChat messaging app are widely used.

"Obviously we hope the government will change their minds about us but until then, we can only do what we can do which is to help companies go out, that's where our opportunity is," said a Twitter source when asked about Twitter being blocked in China. The person was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified.


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