WhatsApp could start serving ads in the future, according to a media report. The new development comes soon after a report claimed that WhatsApp's parent company Facebook decided not to put ads on the instant messaging app, which has over 150 crore users worldwide. The Menlo Park, California-based company in 2018 announced that instead of showing ads on the platform directly, the company would leverage WhatsApp Status updates — a feature that is also available on Facebook and Instagram as Stories — to serve paid content.
Facebook hasn't planned to completely go away with advertisements on WhatsApp, The Information reports, citing people familiar with the development. The social networking giant reportedly suspended the push to bring ads to avoid “antagonising regulators.”
On how the advertising model would be implemented, the report mentions that Facebook would use phone numbers as the determiners to “match” Facebook and WhatsApp accounts and serve targeted ads to users. It would come into force once the company will complete the unification of its messaging platforms, namely Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
In an earnings call back in January last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that the plan to combine its messaging platforms would take some time and wouldn't get official until at least 2020. This suggests that ads on WhatsApp wouldn't emerge anytime soon. The report by The Information also adds that the WhatsApp integration amongst the three platforms would take plenty of time.
Reported plan may bring difficulties to the social media giant
Nevertheless, the reported plan, which is to leverage the WhatsApp user base that is on Facebook to target ads, may raise issues for the company that is already under scrutiny for various antitrust issues. It might also lead to mass deletion of Facebook accounts by WhatsApp who do not want to let the company join their social media profiles together with their messaging accounts.
The latest report suggests that Facebook hasn't ditched its original plan to use WhatsApp to sell ads. This is in contrast with a report by The Wall Street Journal that came in January and said that the company decided to not serve ads through the messaging app. The report also mentioned that WhatsApp disbanded a team that exploring appropriate ways to integrate ads within the platform.
Ads on WhatsApp Status are sure
It is unclear whether Facebook is in plans to sell ads directly on WhatsApp. At the annual Facebook Marketing Summit in the Netherlands in May last year, Facebook showcased WhatsApp Status as a solution to monetise the platform with ads — similar to how ads are served through Instagram Stories since January 2017. The company reportedly revealed that Status ads would launch sometime this year only.
A Facebook spokesperson also told Engadget that “ads in Status remains a long-term opportunity for WhatsApp.” This itself is enough to presume that while WhatsApp would one day be used to serve ads — either directly or indirectly — but that day wouldn't come soon.
Gadgets 360 has separately reached out to Facebook for a comment on the reported development and will update this space when the company responds.
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