Facebook will start placing ads in its Messenger app’s home tab screen globally. These ads were first tested in Australia and Thailand this January. As it was testing home screen ads in those countries, Facebook said in a blog post that advertisers will be “able to place an ad in an area of Messenger below your recent conversations”.
Apart from these ad formats, Messenger will have ‘sponsored messages’ which allow advertisers to directly interact with users through a chat window. In a blog post, the company said that a small percentage of users will start seeing the ads in their Messenger Home tabs towards the end of July. “As we build ads inventory, and then learn from this beta expansion…we will gradually look to extend this to more people over the coming months,” Facebook said in the post.
In its January blog post, Facebook had said that “the few people who are in this test are in complete control of their Messenger experience and can choose to hide/report specific ads using the dropdown menu in their Messenger. Advertisers will still not be able to message users directly unless a person starts the interaction.”
Messenger monetization plans were unveiled previously
Facebook had started monetizing via Messenger since September last year. It allowed businesses to build Messenger bots and communicate to users directly. Apart from advertising, messenger bots were also used for weather, traffic updates, shopping receipts, and shipping notifications. The company has now started injecting image/banner ads in Messenger home screen, after it said that it’s running out of ad spaces in News Feed. Facebook makes almost 85% of its revenue from mobile ads.
The company had introduced features like in-app payments on Messenger in September 2016, to support its monetization plans. It has since added PayPal as a payment option on Messenger. Facebook is also said to be in talks with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to enable UPI payments on its platform.
Anti-trust cases against Facebook’s monetization plans
Facebook’s monetization plans involve sharing user data (phone numbers, usage patterns, status and login information) from WhatsApp to advertisers on Facebook, and they have run into trouble for this in more than one court. The Italian Competition Authority fined WhatsApp €3 million last month while the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had taken up (and lost) an anti-trust case against the company in June.