Twitter has started selling advertising in Russia as it looks to build in a market where it’s already on par with rival Facebook.
Twitter has about 10 million users in Russia compared to Facebook’s 10.5 million, which makes the country one of the few in the world where the two social networking giants are competing on even ground. Twitter is dwarfed by Facebook pretty much everywhere else, with the latter’s 1.3 billion users globally about 4.5 times that of Twitter’s 284 million.
Twitter has teamed up with ad network Httpool to sell inventory, and Russia’s biggest lender OAO Sberbank and wireless operator VimpelCom are rumoured to be early customers.
Twitter’s move into Russia is interesting as many technology firms have faced regulatory problems that have been difficult to overcome, forcing them to step back or make significant changes to strategy. In recent weeks Google has removed engineers from Russia, and the sharp fall in the price of the rouble led to Apple suspending online sales of the iPhone because the currency decline made the device too cheap.
One major problem Twitter will need to tackle is Russia’s new data storage law. Beginning next year, Twitter, Facebook and Google have been told that they have to any information about Russian users of their services stored on servers located inside the country. Failing to meet these demands could lead to the platforms being banned through Russia.
Twitter will work with regulator Roskomnadzor to ensure it complies with policy.