Facebook will introduce ads on WhatsApp stories in 2020, it announced at a marketing summit in the Netherlands. Ads would be WhatsApp’s second revenue source after WhatsApp Business, or third if you consider its still ongoing payments pilot in India. Ads will be displayed as stories, and would disappear after 24 hours, just as it does on Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook right now. WhatsApp Stories Ads were largely anticipated: former WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels had announced it last year, and even pegged it as the primary monetization model for the company.
A brief history of WhatsApp, its cofounders, and ads: The story of WhatsApp’s monetization via ads is protracted. WhatsApp cofounder and then CEO founder Jan Koum had left the company in 2018 after arguments with Facebook over data privacy and business model. Koum had promised to keep WhatsApp ad-free, but Facebook – an advertising company – acquired it for $19 billion in 2014. Koum’s decision to leave was based on Facebook’s attempts to access personal data of users from the popular messaging service and weaken its encryption. WhatsApp’s other co-founder Brian Acton departed two years ago to start his own non-profit. Koum and Acton were openly disparaging of Facebook’s ad-driven model, in 2012 they wrote in a blog post that, “no one wakes up excited to see more advertising; no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow.” And added that online advertising is “a disruption to aesthetics, an insult to your intelligence, and the interruption of your train of thought.”
— Olivier Ponteville (@Olivier_Ptv) May 21, 2019
Move to interoperability?
At the same summit, Facebook said WhatsApp’s recently announced product catalog will be integrated with Facebook’s Business Manager. Additionally, according to Wabetainfo, which reports on beta changes on WhatsApp, the app’s Stories is getting an option to “Share to Facebook”. If the Facebook app is installed on the user’s phone, WhatsApp users can post their status updayes containing images, videos, GIFs, and text to Facebook. Both the above changes could possibly be a move toward Facebook’s move towards interoperability as defined in its new ‘privacy-focused vision’. The vision was first announced by Zuckerberg in March, and placed interoperability as a core feature: “People should expect that we will do everything we can to keep them safe on our services within the limits of what’s possible in an encrypted service”.
Other features in beta test are Night mode and the ability to add contacts using QR code.