WhatsApp has been free of ads for its entire run, but this is going to change next year. Parent company Facebook is forcing it to step up and make some money after years of leaving it alone.
This is exactly what many feared when Facebook snapped up WhatsApp for over $22 billion in 2014. Things couldn’t stay the way they were for too long, especially not after the beating Facebook took recently when it lost over $120 billion in market value thanks to slower-than-expected user growth and revenue.
WhatsApp officials told The Wall Street Journal that ads will start showing up in WhatsApp Status in 2019. The feature allows users to post photos, videos, and plain text for their contacts to see for a 24-hour time period. Now it looks like the company will be inserting ads in between status updates.
WhatsApp Ads Content
These ads are going to be powered by Facebook and work similarly to Instagram’s Stories. In fact, WhatsApp’s Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema says it saw how well it worked on Instagram and is learning a lot from that.
As for what the ads will show, there’s talk of helping familiarize users with business on WhatsApp. A separate ad type will let people know they can text brands directly via WhatsApp to answer customer-service queries. WhatsApp plans to charge half a penny (approx 34 paise) to 9 cents (roughly Rs 6) for every message delivered to a user, depending on the country.
WhatsApp Status has about 450 million users at the moment, so it makes sense to try to make some money from it. The app notably lets people see who has viewed their status. This could work in an advertiser’s favor since they can get an idea of who has seen their ad.
Another major source of revenue is going to be WhatsApp Business. The service has 3 million patrons at the moment, primarily made up of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in addition to big shots like Uber and BookMyShow.
While texts between people and brands will be encrypted, the report points out that firms could store messages in a decrypted state. This could result in a pool of useful data for advertisers. This is just speculation as of now, but questions about privacy will probably come up when all this goes live in 2019.