Meta has strongly denied that adverts are coming to its WhatsApp messaging service, despite reports suggesting otherwise.
WhatsApp is used by some two billion people around the world and teams at Meta have been discussing whether to show ads in the app for the first time as the company looks to boost the messaging service’s monetisation opinions.
The Financial Times no less reported that it had spoken to three people familiar with the internal wrangling at Meta about putting ads in lists of conversations with contacts on the WhatsApp chat screen. However, the trio said that no final decision had been made.
Firing back at the FT, head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart wrote “This @FT story is false. We aren’t doing this.”
This @FT story is false. We aren’t doing this.
Also it looks like you misspelled Brian’s name… https://t.co/Z47z9FC5yu
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) September 15, 2023
But the FT maintained that ahead of its story’s original publication, a WhatsApp spokesperson did not dispute that the idea had been discussed. Though it has to be said, they didn’t exactly encourage the idea, either.
“We can’t account for every conversation someone had in our company but we are not testing this, working on it and it’s not our plan at all,” WhatsApp said.
According to the FT, the issue caused “debates at a high level” within Meta over concerns that WhatsApp ads would alienate users. Instead, a subscription fee has been mooted to keep the app ad-free. Though apparently, this isn’t popular, either.
Instead, WhatsApp is currently monetised through its business service that lets companies send marketing messages, booking notifications or general information to customers. A recent test let some companies send direct marketing messages within WhatsApp to users who have consented to receive them.
It is speculated that the new ad-included WhatsApp would look similar to Messenger or Google’s Gmail with ads interspersed among user chats, said a person with close knowledge of the internal discussions. The ads would not appear within the chat conversations themselves.