Blocked in China, Twitter still courts Chinese firms for ads

Wed May 27, 2015 1:47am EDT
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By Sue-Lin Wong

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Despite being blocked in China, Twitter (TWTR.N: Quote) 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," Peter Greenberger, director of sales for emerging markets at Twitter, told Reuters on Tuesday.

"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 (BABA.N: Quote), white goods producer Qingdao Haier (600690.SS: Quote) and flag carrier Air China (601111.SS: Quote) to target customers abroad.

Twitter collected $436 million 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 (VPN) 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 (0700.HK: Quote) WeChat messaging app are widely used.   Continued...

The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters  in San Francisco, California April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith