Since the Facebook corporation added WhatsApp to its list of assets, there has been discussion about how to effectively monetise the platform.
Facebook paid $22 billion for the messaging app back in February 2014, and enters its monetisation phase next year. Part of this progression into monetisation will include an advertising programme.
The Facebook Corporation has seen a turbulent year in terms of its relationship with the media. Watching the Cambridge Analytica scandal unfold over social media, news channels and that infamous Marc Zuckerberg testimony was the height of many of our population’s media engagement.
With distain, sympathy, and sometimes humour (but importantly, emotion) we watched Zuckerberg defend his empire (you can read about it here). Zuckerberg repeatedly drew on the innocent nature of advertising on social media, continuously explaining that this is the only feasible way for him to make money and run these businesses.
Though congress (and the millions of Facebook users annually who had been exploited and violated by Zuckerberg’s data gathering and storing) were initially outraged, they eventually softened, understanding that they were receiving a free service and that ‘everything is a trade-off’.
So it should come as no surprise really, that WhatsApp had to discontinue its generous free service and extract value from us somehow, at some point.
But what does this mean for users? People tend to shudder at the idea of unavoidable advertisements, and often claim that they would discontinue using the service, should it be saturated with ads. But to what extent do they actually mean this? WhatsApp is, in no uncertain terms, an empire in its own right. Who doesn’t have a group chat to keep up with their mates from home, their work colleagues, and their families?
There are, of course, a plethora of alternative messaging apps that can be easily accessed and used…but downloading a new app, coercing your contacts into doing the same, setting up new group chats, rebuilding the bank of data that is stored on these chats (images of you and your mates in Ibiza circa 2004, memes that you’ve made and accumulated over the years…) requires the one asset that smartphone users are most reluctant to spend in 2018; effort.
The reality is that we are all just too busy, or at least we think that we are, and even with all of the best intentions in the world, the chances of a unanimous shift from one messaging platform to another are slim.
And WhatsApp knows this, which is why we will only be seeing ads at this stage in their business plan. It’s not welcome news to users, but it will soon become the norm, just like Instagram and Facebook ads. For advertisers though, it grants regular, unrivalled access to the psyche of the masses. Click here if you’d like to talk about how to get in on that.
In spite of WhatsApp’s famous ‘end to end encryption’, the scope of targeted advertising potential is the elephant in the room that we’ll talk about later…