Facebook is Rolling Out "WhatsApp" advertising placements
In 2014, many were caught by a surprise when Facebook acquired WhatsApp and questioned possible monetization of the service. It looks like Facebook is putting their 19 billion WhatsApp investment to a good use.
Turns out, Zuckerberg was in it for the long run – it’s all about the audience.
Facebook is estimated to have 2.1 billion active users and is now slowly introducing WhatsApp to their ad services. We have already covered Messenger chatbots previously, as Facebook is shifting their focus to direct communications and the “dark social”. Looks like WhatsApp with the 1 billion of active daily users is up next for the development.
In September 2017, WhatsApp has announced a free Business App to allow users to communicate with the businesses directly through the application. WhatsApp’s COO Matt Idema has acknowledged that they still need to figure out the monetization, but the foundation is already in place.
Now, Facebook is slowly rolling out their ‘Click to WhatsApp’ feature in markets across Africa, Australia, Asia, South and North America. The ads will have a button that will allow customer to speak with the business directly. These ads will only be shown to the users who already have WhatsApp installed. This feature is very similar to the “Click to Messenger” which initially had a basic setup and then slowly built up the functionality.
Integration with the WhatsApp is going to be a more difficult task than the Messenger, considering that Facebook Messenger has always been a part of their system. Facebook claims that more than 1 million Facebook Pages already have WhatsApp numbers in their posts, but it’s still not common for the businesses to engage with their customers through direct conversations. Customers are also not used to the idea of direct communication with the businesses, although it looks like the instant support is slowly becoming a norm rather than an example of outstanding experience.
It’s quite interesting to see if Facebook will implement regular ads inside the WhatsApp platform, considering WhatsApp has always been against advertising. As an account manager at Smartt, I am looking forward to more advertising opportunities to promote our clients. As a consumer, I am not entirely happy with the ads being shown in-between my personal conversations. It’s an ironic position to find yourself in!
Facebook Messenger started off as a clean and useful tool to communicate with your friends in a direct message format, without using the Facebook App or Browser. As time went by, the level of functionality was becoming more complex with added games, ads and Snapchat like functionality. Does it mean we can expect the same from WhatsApp, or would it remain a clean platform “just for messaging”? Only time will tell. However, based on the previous track record – expect to see your WhatsApp experience change in the following year.
Is your business ready to use direct messaging as part of your digital marketing strategy? Looks like 2018 is the perfect time to consider different alternatives to email communication and standard phone support.