Facebook plans to show personalized ads in WhatsApp
Since last year, Facebook is looking for ways to monetize WhatsApp but then, earlier this year, the company reportedly abandoned those plans and decided not to display any ads in the app for now. However, a recent report shows that the tech giant has not completely given up on advertising on the popular messaging app.
A new report from The Information now says Facebook plans to introduce ads in WhatsApp once it unifies all its messaging apps. The report claims the company is planning to use its Facebook database to deliver personalized ads to users. This was confirmed in a statement made to Engadget in which a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that ads are still a long-term opportunity for WhatsApp that they are still exploring.
"Ads in Status remains a long-term opportunity for WhatsApp", a Facebook spokesperson told Engadget.
The report also sheds light on exactly how Facebook plans to serve ads in WhatsApp. The company would serve targeted ads to WhatsApp users by "matching" their phone numbers with their Facebook accounts. However, there are also internal concerns amongst some executives within the company who were worried that introducing ads would result in users deleting their accounts.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $22 billion in 2014 and it has yet to pay financial dividends. The app currently has over 2 billion users globally, so that's a huge revenue stream to tap for the company.
The company has been long mulling over the idea of bringing advertising to WhatsApp Status. The company unveiled this plan of monetizing the app in November 2018. In May last year, it even announced that the app will start showing ads in 2020. However, those plans were put "on ice" in January this year as Facebook disbanded the team that was working on them. This decision was reportedly taken by CEO Mark Zuckerberg to avoid attracting the ire of regulators.
The report goes on to claim that one of the reasons why Facebook ditched their plans earlier this year was because they wanted to avoid antagonizing regulators. Given Facebook's somewhat bad reputation regarding user privacy, the company has come under intense scrutiny, and ads would have definitely not helped their situation.
Regardless, it sounds like ads in WhatsApp will not be coming any time soon. Facebook has made clear that it will take years to merge its messaging infrastructure across its apps, and WhatsApp will take the longest to integrate. When exactly these ads will start being implemented remains to be seen, so expect that they will eventually show up one day.