Have you ever wondered if it’s possible for American companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even Google to make money from the people living in Iran? The answer is YES.

Advertisement is one of the key revenue sources for companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The simplest way to look at it is that you just use their service and they would show you targeted ads on their platform. Sometimes, they are even more accurate on what you want and what you need.

Imagine if you wanted to sell your products or services to Iranians using online ads with a call to action; is it logical to do that? Basically no, because there are no international payment solutions in Iran and also no international and financial service companies such as Visa or Master Card. And if you are a company based in U.S. or if you have any ties to U.S., you can’t have any kind of financial relationship with Iran, meaning no business. Of course, there are some American businesses that do have a business relationship with Iran such as Boeing which has a special permit from the U.S. government to sell their airplanes to Iranians.

As Iranians, we use Instagram, Google, Facebook, and some use Twitter. We should pay attention that Facebook and Twitter are blocked by Iran while Google and Instagram are untouched. Normally, people use VPNs to access their Facebook or Twitter accounts. So based on the previous paragraph, it doesn’t make sense for any American company or any company that has ties with the U.S. to target Iran for doing ads, why? If they do targeted ads on users in Iran, it means that they want to sell something to Iranians which is forbidden by the American government.

What happens is that Iranians are getting ads on these platforms. You may argue about the fact that we use VPN to get access to our accounts but even the people who have set their location in their accounts to Iran are getting the ads. So these companies are making money from Iranians because somebody is paying for those impressions and clicks to get something done. Another interesting observation here is that we are allowed to see foreign ads on these platforms but it’s not allowed for a local company in Iran to put up ads on these platforms.

These ads are either blind targeted which means that somebody is paying for nothing because we don’t have international payment solutions in Iran or these ads are targeted for Iranians which means these advertisers want to do business with Iran and most of them are Americans.

Tell us what you think and drop us a comment.

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MohammadSaide Recent comment authors
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I tried using Facebook’s paid ad service for my startup in Tehran, and after I had arranged the payment, I realized Iran is not even listed in the audience category to be selected! Which meant my money went to waste and the ad was probably shown to a bunch of neighbor countries that didn’t do any good for me. When I think about it now, it seems not having access to such advertising methods for us living in Iran makes a huge impact on the way we take care of our business. Things could have been a lot different for… Read more »


So back to the question, then how these companies justify their costs to serve Iranians?
Telegram is also very questionable as it claims not even advertising.
Is there something behind the scene that pays for burden of Iranians usage?