At a Facebook Marketing Summit event in the Netherlands, WhatsApp has confirmed that the messaging service will have an ad platform set up next year. How would it work? Through an ad for a brand in the Facebook News Feed and Instagram News Feed, you would be able to call the business using WhatsApp.
And Status ads would be placed in the Stories feature of WhatsApp. The ads would take up the whole screen and the company name would appear at the top.
Ads in WhatsApp have been rumored for a while now. But Facebook resisted from officially confirming the timeline of its ad plans until recently.
Prior to Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, the messaging app company tested a monetization strategy of 99 cents per year. WhatsApp’s original founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum have been outspoken about how they resented ads as a business model.
Acton left Facebook a couple of years ago. And Koum announced his departure from Facebook and its board about a year ago. The reason why they resigned is due to differences in opinion about the direction of WhatsApp. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
Fortunately, you will unlikely see ads in WhatsApp unless you view status updates that are posted by your contacts rather than seeing banner ads pop up while you are chatting.
The bigger concern about implementing ads into WhatsApp is that end-to-end encryption would have to be removed as a feature. This means that WhatsApp would be able to track keywords used in conversations in order to surface contextual ads. And with ad spend campaigns, businesses would have access to analytics so user data will be tracked.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was asked by US lawmakers if encryption is still considered a priority for the company. Sandberg did not say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ directly in response. She simply replied:
“We are strong believers in encryption.”