Mobile Marketing for 2019

Will the inclusion of ads in WhatsApp change the market’s future?

Martes, 23 Octubre, 2018


The ever-changing Digital Marketing field may experience yet another extraordinary turn of events. The decision from Facebook to monetize WhatsApp can create a true testing laboratory in this messaging app with a huge pool of users. Mobile Marketing will gain a renewed push, while other technological trends can overshadow its potential business success.

Digital Marketing structured to engage customers through mobile devices may soon be redefined with the inclusion of a set of tools for advertisers to include ads in WhatsApp. A new sun rises for marketers since WhatsApp is, by far, the most important messaging app in the western world.

We’ve had years of continuous rumours that kept the fear about WhatsApp turning its business model into a subscription-based one. Speculation goes beyond in online magazine LiveMint, where it is stated that the injection of ads in the platform might be one of the main reasons why the company founders left WhatsApp. When the CEO and co-founder Jan Koum said goodbye in April 2018, The Verge defined him and his former partner as “devout privacy advocates, both pledged to preserve the sanctity of WhatsApp when they announced its sale to Facebook four years ago”.

Besides any controversial moves within the corporate structure, the truth is that the implementation of advertising seems to be happening. Will it change the way we communicate as its mobile application once did?

Monetizing one of the most important communication channels

But let’s start at the beginning. Back in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg’s huge social network Facebook acquired WhatsApp for 16 billion dollars. In February 19th, when the acquisition was announced, Zuckerberg said WhatsApp was in the way to connect a thousand million people worldwide. According to TechCrunch, the mobile messaging app hit 1.5 billion monthly users in January 2018.

Facebook has not received much praise in the last few years with the alleged fake-news spreading and other reputational crises. However, Facebook as a corporation still holds impressive numbers regarding earnings. In fact, it is still by far the biggest social network in the world and since they acquired Instagram in 2012, they have made the photo-sharing app a true money-making machine. We may expect that this should be the journey for WhatsApp as well.

Surprisingly enough, many big online magazines and experts emphasize other trends in the Digital Marketing area, when it comes to foreseeing the market for 2019. AR and VR, AI-powered services, Social Media integration in third-party platforms, “video everywhere”, etcetera. WhatsApp ads going under the radar could be a hint that there is nothing clear yet about the future of the platform.

How will WhatsApp Ads change the landscape of its app?

News about this step to advertising inside WhatsApp are truly recent. There has been a lot of speculation for the last few years, but real facts have been slipping to mainstream media since August 2018. Some specialized magazines say it will be like the ads we have seen included on Instagram’s “stories” and Snapchat’s “discover” sections. These ads are based on your browsing data and activity, interests and other details.

A more recent post from The Verge says that Facebook will include ads from companies that will lead you directly to a WhatsApp conversation made to engage clients. That is a road that the social network already took with their chatbots on Facebook Messenger.

Generally speaking, all of this is the result of WhatsApp launching an API for enterprise customers. It is in a really early stage and it will be the seed to a much bigger plan called WhatsApp Commerce. Other messaging apps have their own infrastructure created around strategies like this and, like Hackernoon explains, WhatsApp will have to face “many challenges to build a robust ecosystem around the messaging platform”.

What can we expect about the future of WhatsApp?

One way or the other, Zuckerberg’s Facebook will be monetising WhatsApp. As highlighted by Bloomberg, Google and Facebook are the dominant companies in the world of digital advertising. Those two tech giants hold the 58 percent share of a $111 billion market, and they are only followed in the distance by another industry colossus like the online retailer Amazon.

Although there is only hints of what it could be, or how it could be, the presence of advertising inside WhatsApp has created a great turmoil within the company. Ads targeted to certain audiences based on special keywords extracted from their own private conversations can raise questions and, more specifically, the moral debate about privacy and the course taken by the company. Only time will tell if the right choices are made, while Facebook is still in the spotlight of a lot of ethical and legal discussions.


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