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Meta debunks reports of bringing in ads to WhatsApp

by Ikenna Ngere

On Friday, Meta refuted a media story that stated the social media behemoth was considering adding advertisements to the popular messaging app WhatsApp.

According to an earlier Financial Times report, several teams at Meta had considered whether to display advertisements in listings of contacts’ conversations on the WhatsApp home screen. In a response, WhatsApp said that it had no plans for it and was not testing or working on it.

As the social media giant looks on ways to commercialise the programme, which is used daily by more than 2 billion people worldwide, analysts have long conjectured that Meta will eventually introduce advertisements to WhatsApp.

Instagram, which Meta acquired for a comparatively much lower price, has advanced further in terms of monetization.

But Meta has so far refrained from putting advertisements on the WhatsApp app, relying instead on WhatsApp Business, a product targeted at businesses that charges them for specific services. Over 200 million monthly active users have signed up for WhatsApp Business.

In an effort to boost revenue, Meta announced modifications to WhatsApp Business’s pricing model and messaging options in February. These categories included user-initiated service dialogues, authentication (to send one-time passcodes), utility, and marketing.

During the company’s Q3 earnings call the previous year, Zuckerberg mentioned that “click-to-WhatsApp” ads had grown by 80% year over year to reach an annual revenue run rate of $1.5 billion. The business has been preparing to launch a personalised messaging platform for retailers soon.

Peer-to-peer and customer-to-merchant payments are also made possible by it in nations like Singapore, Brazil, and India. The company announced in May that it is looking into how to include payments into its streaming function, Channels, which went live globally this week.

“With WhatsApp Business users reaching 200M MAU, and GenAI customer service tools being tested out, Meta appears to be taking steps towards monetizing the 2Bn+ active users on WhatsApp. Click to Message is already running at a 10B+ revenue run rate while training both the users and businesses to interact within WhatsApp,” analysts at AllianceBernstein wrote in a recent note to clients.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2020 that WhatsApp has considered offering advertisements in locations like WhatsApp Status a few times over the past decade, but those ideas have always been shelved.

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