WhatApp opens platform to brands – but the answer is still ‘no’ when it comes to ads | M&M Global

WhatApp opens platform to brands – but the answer is still ‘no’ when it comes to ads

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, is opening up its platform to brands for the first time – but insists this does not mean the introduction of ads.


Speaking at the DLD conference in Munich, Germany, co-founder Jan Koum revealed WhatsApp is dropping the $0.99 subscription fee it has charged many users to help it cover costs, and would allow select companies to communicate with consumers using the platform.

Since being acquired by Facebook in a mammoth $19bn deal in 2014, the marketing world has watched closely to see if WhatsApp would falter from its stated aim of never hosting advertising.

In 2012, the app published a blog decrying the impact of advertising on consumers, writing that ads are the “disruption of aesthetics” and “insults to your intelligence”. “Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product,” the blog post went on to state.

Ukraine-born Koum has also argued strongly that WhatsApp will not share user data, despite the acquisition by Facebook.

However, brands that WhatsApp’s near-one billion users “want to hear from” – such as banks and airlines – will soon be able to communicate with customers via the platform.

In a blog post entitled, ‘Making WhatsApp free and more useful‘, WhatsApp writes: “People might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.

“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.

“We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.”

It follows a similar move by Facebook Messenger to invite businesses such as Uber to allow customers to use its services without leaving the app.


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