Southeast Asia to be key in Facebook's global plans

update Southeast Asia expected to play "significant role" in social networking giant's global sales strategy, says company execs during opening of sales operations office in Singapore.

update SINGAPORE--Facebook on Tuesday officially opened its office here to support the social networking giant's sales operation across the Southeast Asian region, which company executives said is expected to play a "significant role" in its global sales strategy.

Heading the regional office is Stephen Dolan, Facebook's commercial director for Singapore and Southeast Asia, who was previously from Microsoft where he worked with Redmond's Greater Asia advertising team.

Today's announcement confirms previous speculation that Facebook was planning to establish a base here, following job listings for positions in the city-state earlier this year. This is the company's first sales office in Asia, outside of Australia where it has a Sydney office, but it has a a support center office in Hyderabad, India.

At a media briefing here, Blake Chandlee, Facebook's vice president and commercial director for Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Central Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa, described Singapore as the entry point to Asia, which is one of the company's fastest growing markets.

Recruitment for Facebook's Singapore office is almost complete, where it is "pretty much finalizing recruitment for the short term", Dolan said, adding the company is open to setting up new offices as the business grows.

Old ads don't work in new age
The new sales office will focus on marketing the social networking site's advertising platform, available to businesses as self-serve ads or engagement ads.

With self-serve ads, companies and individuals can purchase ad space directly on the Web site using a credit card, Dolan explained. However, these ads will appear and share the page alongside two other ads, he noted.

With engagement ads, which are placed on the user's News Feeds, advertisers enjoy 100 percent share of the advertising space as it appears exclusively on the page, he said.

First introduced in 2008, engagement ads allow users to interact with Facebook advertisements by clicking "Like" for a page, entering polls or posting the advertisement on their own Facebook profile to share with their friends.

Asked about the impact of the company's privacy policy change in April on potential advertisers, Chandlee said Facebook believes it is important to simplify controls for users to decide who they want to share their information with.

Education is also important, he noted, adding that the company also works with advertisers to explain the privacy controls that have been put in place.

Chandlee said: "A lot of people in the senior level might not use Facebook so all they hear is the media hype around something and they go, "Woah, I don't want my company and my brand associated with something that is 'dangerous'. [But] once they see what is the privacy policy and the controls, they go, 'OK, this is great and how do we build this into our platform?'"