WhatsApp has confirmed that the ad-free messaging nirvana is primed for destruction, with advertisements coming to the Status tab, as Facebook starts to seek profit from its most expensive acquisition.
While a Wall Street Journal report predicted this back in August, a WhatsApp executive has confirmed the change is coming. Speaking to Outlook India, the firm’s VP Chris Daniels said this will be the primary cash source for WhatsApp moving forward.
As the WSJ predicted, the ads will be geared to helping businesses reach people on WhatsApp. Daniels said: “We are going to be putting ads in ‘Status.’ That is going to be [the] primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.”
The good news, the ads are heading to a place where many WhatsApp users are unlikely to see them. The Status tab enables users to post text updates, photos, animated GIFs, videos and more. Like Instagram’s stories, they disappear after 24-hours. Facebook says 450 million users are already using the Status page, but I just checked, and my Status tab says: “No recent updates to show right now.” Just as it always has.
Whether users see the ads or not, it’s sure to raise concerns over targeting. Will advertisers have access to the topics being discussed by users in order to show relevant ads? We’re sure to see some empty pledge form Facebook about how much it cares about user privacy, regardless.
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The original report back in August said the roll out was being planned for early 2019. It said WhatsApp will charge companies between $0.005 and $0.09 per potential customer reached. Considering WhatsApp is offering access to more than 1 billion active daily users, that’s could add up quickly.
Facebook paid more than $19 billion for WhatsApp, so it’s understandable the company would start to seek some return on that investment at some point. The move to charge businesses for access to WhatsApp users comes as the company seeks out a revenue stream. Previously, the app had dropped a $0.99 annual subscription fee following the Facebook buyout in 2016.
Will the ads bother you? Are you concerned about third-party companies tracking the your conversations? Drop is a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.