Adverts are coming to WhatsApp
If there’s one thing that Facebook is very good at doing, it’s making money with advertising. Whether you’re on the social network itself, or one of its sub-brands such as Instagram or Messenger, you’re never too far away from a suspiciously targeted advert.
The one area of Zuckerberg’s kingdom where ads can’t reach you is WhatsApp, but this quiet space isn’t going to remain quiet for too much longer. While it already has a business offering where companies can talk to their customers directly, it’s about to get its own taste of the traditional advertising model.
The Economic Times reports that WhatsApp’s vice president Chris Daniels told an audience in New Delhi that adverts would appear in the Status area, and would be the “primary monetisation mode for the company,” offering yet another “opportunity for businesses to reach people.” No timeline was given for the change.
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If you’re wondering what the Status area is, you’ll likely not notice the change whenever it ends up rolling out. It’s the bit designed to rival Snapchat Stories, where people can put text, photos and videos on their profile. Like Snapchat, the status expires in 24 hours.
As places for adverts go, that sounds reasonably inoffensive, and it’s good to know that you won’t have to watch a 30-second video roll before finding out exactly what your friends have been up to.
All the same, it’s not what the original founders had in mind. At the time of writing, there’s still a 2012 blog post from co-founder Jan Kuom entitled “Why we don’t sell ads” on the WhatsApp site. In case it doesn’t remain up for long, here’s a little taster:
“Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.”
With Kuom and co-founder Brian Acton – last seen calling on people to delete Facebook – both out of the picture, Facebook is able to reshape the company in its own image. And its image remains unapologetically ad-heavy.