Even though Facebook is banned in China, that has not stopped the social media giant from establishing a dedicated team at its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore to cater for Chinese clients and to grow its lucrative China advertising revenues.

According to Reuters, which first reported the development after speaking to three sources described as familiar with the effort, the small team numbering in the tens has been tasked with developing better ad-buying tools for Chinese customers.

Said to be Facebook’s first significant attempt at developing regionally localised ad tools outside of its home base in Silicon Valley, the team aims to make it easier for Chinese advertisers to work their way round internet restrictions in the country known as the “Great Firewall”.

Reuters further reported that Facebook veteran Hao Xu is leader of the team, which is expected to develop improved ad features because of its proximity to regional competitors and sales staff.

The regional dimension is significant because important as China is – it is estimated that Facebook sold more than $5bn worth of ad space to Chinese businesses and government agencies in 2018 – Facebook also has major commercial interests in India, Thailand and Vietnam that also have some form of internet restriction.

One of Reuters’ sources also revealed that Facebook wants its new Singapore-based team to spot emerging trends, having concluded that the most interesting new consumer technologies are now being developed in Asia.

Facebook aims to target smaller businesses in second and third-tier cities in China, although it recognises that it will need to reassure those concerned about its banned status in the country.

However, for those seeking to promote themselves overseas, Facebook’s promise of making the ad-buying process easier is encouraging.

Raggy Lau, head of Chinese ad agency Sterry, for example, told Reuters that he expects to increase spend on Facebook this year as bigger clients compete for the attention of users.

Sourced from Reuters; additional content by WARC staff