Facebook is set to trial advertising in its Messenger app, with the social network announcing it had chosen Australia, along with Thailand, to launch a “very small test” of a service that “gives businesses the opportunity to place ads on the Messenger home screen”.
The test groups in both countries will begin to see ads in the coming weeks.
In a blog post made by product manager Eddie Zhang, he promised ads would not appear in a conversation without the user first clicking on an ad experience on the home screen.
“This means that a business is able to place an ad in an area of Messenger below your recent conversations, similar to how we surface birthday notifications or where we let you know if a friend is currently active on Messenger,” the post read.
“No one will see an ad in a conversation without clicking on an ad experience on the Messenger home screen or starting a conversation with a brand – these test ads won’t originate in your conversations.”
In a mock-up image of what a commercially-laden home screen would look like, the sponsored ads appeared beneath the list of favourites, but above the list of active contacts.
Zhang said, “Businesses have long been telling us that they are very excited about the potential of the Messenger platform to reach their customers and help them to drive sales, build brand awareness and increase customer satisfaction.
“Our current offerings like ads that take people to Messenger conversations from their Facebook News Feed and sponsored messages have demonstrated that people are interested in hearing from and interacting with business and brands on Messenger.
“In fact, people are already regularly messaging businesses with over one billion messages sent between people and businesses on Messenger each month.”
Zhang also said the small group of people in the test would be “in complete control of their Messenger experience”, with the ability to choose to hide/report specific ads using the dropdown menu in their Messenger.
“Advertisers will still not be able to message users directly unless a person starts the interaction and people will not see a message from a business that they didn’t initiate.”