In Asia, Twitter is up against rivals like Sina Weibo and the ubiquity of messaging apps like Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat. But the region is still an important one for the microblogging platform, a point it underscored today by announcing plans to establish an office in Hong Kong. Twitter’s vice president for Asia Pacific, the Americas, and emerging markets, Shailesh Rao, told WSJ that the office, which will open in early 2015, will focus on selling advertising to companies based in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
A Twitter representative told TechCrunch, “With half of all Internet, mobile and social media users worldwide in Asia today, we see many opportunities across the region. APAC is the growth engine for the company and we are expanding into more markets to reach new users, partners & advertisers.”
Though Twitter has been blocked in mainland China since 2009, that doesn’t mean that the greater China region can’t be a potentially lucrative source of advertising revenue. Facebook is also blocked there, but Mark Zuckerberg recently said in his now (in)famous Mandarin-language interview at Tsinghua University last week that “Facebook is already in China” because Chinese businesses use the site to market items like mobile phones, connecting them to potential customers in other countries.
Twitter can, of course, play a similar role for those companies. Rao identified Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo Group, Alibaba, Acer, and Asus as potential advertisers. Though 77 percent of Twitter’s 284 million users are located outside the U.S., only 34 percent of its revenue comes from international sources.
In Q3 2014, Twitter’s total revenue was $361 million, up 114 percent from $169 million a year ago. Ad revenue totaled $320 million, an increase of 109 percent year-over-year. Mobile advertising was 85 percent of that amount, and international revenue was $121 million.
The company has been trying to increase the latter figure through initiatives like expanding its ad program to developing markets in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
According to the WSJ, Twitter’s Hong Kong office will be led by Peter Greenberger, its Singapore-based director of sales for emerging markets. In addition to its existing office in Singapore, Twitter also has offices in Seoul, Tokyo, and Sydney, and recently announced plans to open a location in Jakarta to work with Indonesian advertisers and marketers.