Blaugust 25: WhatsApp Monetising

So, we break with what’s fast becoming the regularly scheduled learning posts for one that’s actually about current events! Earlier this afternoon, WhatsApps announced that it would be starting to integrate with Facebook, sharing phone numbers and friend suggestions between the two platforms. Longer term, they’ll be working towards advertisers being able to directly message users.
Since then, social media as a whole has fairly blown up with negative comments about this (unsurprisingly.) I wrote about Whatsapp and it’s future back when Facebook first acquired it in 2014, and it’s clear why they waited two years to make any moves towards monetisation – they needed to ensure that the user base was too entrenched to go elsewhere once the next negative wave hit.

The integration with Facebook makes sense in terms of shoring up (if perhaps not growing) Facebook’s userbase. However the real goal is profit, and in that I wonder about how successful their current plans will really be.

In the UK, at least, advertising via text message never really took off. It’s always mainly been the preserve of weird scam companies and has pretty much petered out in the past few years. It’s a different story in the US and other countries, where text ads are more commonplace, but there, it might be seen as a backwards step compared to the tactics of Snapchat advertising and similar – a bit old fashioned for a clearly 21st century product. It remains to be seen exactly how Facebook will implement monetisation, but I do think they could do better than that.

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