Ever since Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, there has always been the lingering question of how the messaging platform could be monetised. The answer is advertising, and while Facebook has steered clear of introducing ads to WhatsApp, it’s only a matter of time before it does.
This according to a report from The Information (paywall), which has spoken to people close to the project, noting that Facebook plans to integrate ads in the near future, but that it would hinge on first unifying all of its messaging platforms first.
What that unification means precisely is unclear, especially given the fact that Facebook Messenger, although less popular than WhatsApp globally, still has a massive number of users.
There is also the hurdle of WhatsApp being an encrypted service in some respects, which The Information queried too, and an unnamed Facebook spokesperson noted that the platform would match phone numbers between a user’s WhatsApp and Facebook accounts in order to create targeted advertising.
As such the “personalised” ads you spot on Facebook, would also pop up on WhatsApp.
How the community would react to such a change remains to be seen, but there is some concern within Facebook that a move like that would force users to delete the app completely and shift to a different platform.
There are also the associated antitrust regulations that such a move would naturally bring into question.
It therefore looks as if Facebook has a bit of thinking to do before introducing advertising on WhatsApp, but we’re of the opinion that it is not a good move given the messaging service remains one of the best performers in the company’s stable.