In brief: Facebook is currently banned in China, but that doesn't mean it can't tap its potential in other ways. Many Chinese companies want to use the social giant's global presence and powerful ad tools to get ahead of the competition and expand their customer base, so Facebook is building a team dedicated to helping them out.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially gave up on annual challenges, opting for longer-term goals that cover the next decade. Among them are the fight to give more power to the people and a push for establishing rules around issues that are long in the tooth, such as election integrity, privacy, and the sanity of Facebook's online platforms.
Meanwhile, there's a lot of money on the table for its advertising business, especially in China. Despite Zuckerberg's criticism of the region and its tendency to govern big platforms with censorship and strict rules, Facebook is building a new team of engineers in Singapore that will be dedicated solely to driving its advertising business in Southeast Asia.
Reuters notes the biggest challenge will be to develop ad-buying tools that Chinese customers can use to overcome internet restrictions imposed by the government. China is the second-largest source of revenue after the United States, with Facebook selling an estimated $5 billion worth of ad space in the region.
While Zuckerberg is unable to operate Facebook in China, companies, like TikTok owner ByteDance have used Facebook's ad tools to propagate to a global audience. By the second half of 2019, ByteDance shifted to build its own advertising business to compete with Facebook's.
Still, that leaves many small startups that need the power of Facebook to achieve visibility in a crowded global landscape. According to Raggy Lau, who runs a small ad agency in China, serving 30 companies, Facebook will see a significant demand for its ad tools this year and beyond.