Whatsapp will start running ads in its app from next year. This was announced by Whatsapp COO Matt Idema in a conversation with Deutsche Presse-Agentur. However, the ads will not appear in the private Whatsapp chats, but will be placed in the "Status" area.
Whatsapp had responded to the success of Snapchat with the format: With "Whatsapp Status," users can share texts, photos, videos, and animated GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. The feature is currently used by around 450 million people.
Founder against advertising
Whatsapp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton had repeatedly spoken out against financing the service through advertising in the past. However, they have left the Facebook group, to which Whatsapp belongs.
The planned advertising revenues are to help bring Whatsapp out of the red. At the same time, Idema announced its intention to generate revenue through cooperation with larger companies. In the future, Whatsapp will enable larger companies to communicate directly with customers on a large scale via the short message service. Whatsapp users will be able to decide for themselves whether they want to see advertising or not.
The first companies to make use of the new "Whatsapp Business API" service include the airlines KLM and Singapore Airlines, the online travel portal Booking.com, the shopping platform Wish, and the ride service provider Uber. Online retailers can use the interface, for example, to inform customers in real time about the progress of parcel delivery.
In order to be able to contact the companies, the users would have to agree to the communication, Idema emphasized. This would also implement the requirements of the European General Data Protection Regulation. As always, the communication runs encrypted and secure, Whatsapp does not get to see the content. "However, users should be aware that they are not chatting with a private person, but providing information to a company."
Whatsapp users could block companies that contact them with prior consent at any time with one click. "This choice will of course be respected."
In January, Whatsapp had already launched a business service for smaller companies in the form of its own Android app. The new service for larger companies runs in the traditional Whatsapp app.
For the companies, setting up the interface and chatting with customers is free of charge. Real-time notifications, however, must be paid for by the companies on a per-unit basis. The company did not provide any details on the exact costs.
"Whatsapp Business API is the Facebook subsidiary's first paid service since the actual app has been available free of charge for years. The users themselves are not asked to pay. (AWP/SDA/DPA)