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WhatsApp starts testing messages from businesses: report

Messaging app WhatsApp is testing a system to let businesses talk directly to WhatsApp users, according to a Reuters report. The report mentions that the tests are being conducted with a few companies from the Y Combinator startup incubator, although it’s not clear which ones.

WhatsApp is also surveying users about how much they communicate with businesses on the platform, and if they have ever received spam from companies. Overall, the platform is looking to monetize its users since it dropped its subscription fees plan, and allowing businesses to message users will do just that. This move is taking a leaf out of parent Facebook’s book – Messenger started allowing businesses to send ads to users as long as the given user had previously had a chat with the business, in November last year.

Facebook and its properties have been looking to monetize their massive users bases. Just yesterday, Facebook launched advanced measurement for all advertisers, to help them compare the effectiveness of Instagram, Facebook and Audience Network ads. It’s worth noting that 84% of Facebook’s Q3 2016 came from mobile ads. For the September ended quarter, the company’s ad revenues was $6.8 billion, a 59% year-over-year change from $4.2 billion in the same quarter last year. It’s other property, Instagram, now has 500,000 global advertisers.

Note that various messaging platforms have begun consolidating their user bases and have started looking for ways to actually generate some revenues. In November, Viber launched public accounts – an account format for businesses and brands that want to communicate with Viber users for marketing and customer service. In the same month, Twitter introduced chatbots for businesses through direct messaging, while online content discovery platform Outbrain launched “Outbrain for Chat,” a service that enables any publisher to launch applications or content bots across messaging platforms like Telegram, Kik and Slack.

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