+ Thursday October 24th, 2019

As first mentioned last year, Facebook had confirmed that ads will appear in WhatsApp, starting in 2020. Before arming up with pitchforks however, it’s worth looking into the details.

Facebook has long had a problem figuring out how to monetise WhatsApp. When they bought the messaging service, it had to deal with a longstanding promise to the userbase about why they charge for the service after the first year instead of selling advertising.

It’s been years though, and nobody’s really paying for WhatsApp (when was the last time you paid your 99 cents?) and the founders are gone, so while Facebook isn’t exactly hurting for the cash it seems fair that they try to work out how to make some money from their $19b outlay.

Late last week at a Facebook Marketing Summit, the company detailed its first run at advertising in WhatsApp, and it’s probably not as off-putting as you might think.

It looks like WhatsApp won’t be placing ads in your standard WhatsApp experience. You won’t be seeing banners atop your contacts list and your won’t get a popup when you send a message. That’s the core WhatsApp experience we’ve had for years unchanged.

Where you will start to see ads is in the WhatsApp “Status” area, where users upload temporary updates into “stories” for friends to view. The feature’s been around a little over a year now for WhatsApp and has found its way into the main Facebook app and Instagram as well. It’s mainly designed to compete with Snapchat. Ads will likely appear as you reach the end of a friend’s Status story (as on other services).

If you don’t use WhatsApp Status, you won’t be seeing these ads. A quick check in my own WhatsApp Status tab reveals the only update waiting for me this morning is the introduction to WhatsApp Status from the service itself.

It’s fair to say I’m a fairly light WhatsApp user, but I certainly don’t see friends scrambling to post stories on WhatsApp Status. Maybe it’s bigger in other markets. Of course, less traffic means less eyeballs, and less revenue. Expect the revenue question to come around again.

Ads will come to WhatsApp Status in 2020. After that, where they’ll appear is anyone’s guess. For now though, the team should probably be commended for resisting the urge to go all-in on the revenue hunt.

Jason Murray   Deputy Editor

Jason Murray

Before discovering the Nexus One, Jason thought he didn't need a smartphone. Now he can't bear to be without his Android phone. Jason hails from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane depending on his mood and how detailed a history you'd like. A web developer by day with an interest in consumer gadgets and electronics, he also enjoys reading comics and has a worryingly large collection of Transformers figures. He'd like to think he's a gamer, but his Wii has been in a box since he moved to Sydney, and his PlayStation Vita collection is quite lacking. Most mornings you'll find him tilting at various windmills on Twitter - follow @JM77 and say hi!

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Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

WhatsCrap more likely. People are so willing to give away their privacy and personal details in exchange for having crap like WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, etc on their phones.

cuts deep
Guest
cuts deep

question is, how to communicate with those friends if you don’t use it? (sms isn’t the answer) i’d love to be able to stay protected and talk all my uncles/aunties/random friends into using signal, but it’s not that easy

Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

I have around 300 siblings; nieces; nephews and cousins on Facebook but I only access it either through a webpage or on one old ‘socials’ phone that has very little of my real life on it. This socials phone also has twitter; messenger; Instagram but not WhatsCrap. Anybody needs to contact me otherwise then they can call or SMS on my real phones.

Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

I wish I could get people onto Signal but sadly very few people are tech-evolved enough to realise that they should be using a decent encrypted messenger app.

Phill Edwards
Guest
Phill Edwards
Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

Yes it is, after all of your contacts have been uploaded to Facebook’s server and then the contacts and any other data they want are regularly unloaded to Facebook’s server. This is why after a brief WhatsCrap exchange with a new contact you will then start getting an add friend recommendation for that contact on Facebook. Of course this assumes that new contact is using the same phone number for their Facebook profile but most are. You also won’t even need to save the contact for this recommendation to occur. Facebook encrypts their Messenger and WhatsCrap messages so that no… Read more »

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