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Adverts are coming to Instant Messages

11/03/2016 | Richard Hardy

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The growth of Instant Messaging (IM)

Instant Messaging is a phenomenon. Its growth over recent years has been staggering. Whatsapp alone is now 50% bigger than global SMS,* with 30 billion messages sent each day.

Facebook Messenger was the fastest-growing app of 2015**. With the number of users continuing to rise, we can expect to see updates and added features this year. Did you notice the visual update to the mobile app this week?

Perhaps the most significant update to Messenger will be the introduction of adverts.

 

Adverts in Messenger

Facebook plans to roll out adverts to its messenger app in the coming quarter. The app has been evolving into a customer service platform for the last few years, bringing in new features and buttons that make it easier for customers to contact companies over Messenger, an alternative channel to emails or contact forms.

Soon businesses will be able to send ads as messages to people who previously initiated a chat with them. This provides an additional incentive for businesses to get consumers to contact them via Messenger. It also means brands and agencies will need to incorporate messaging apps in their social strategies

The crucial restriction that will, at least for now, keep Messenger a primarily friend-to-friend service is that only users who have voluntarily chatted with a business will be sent ads.

 

What about other IM services?

Twitter also announced they will be providing new methods for businesses to provide customer service through Direct Messaging (DMs).

Whatsapp have repeatedly said they will not be introducing ads to their service, preferring a small subscription fee. However, as it’s owned by Facebook, perhaps this will change in the future.

 

Facebook Messenger ads

Many people’s instinctive reaction to yet more ads will be negative. Currently, if you get a Messenger alert you can pick up your phone immediately, safe in the knowledge that it’s one of your friends and worth looking at. Advertisers abusing this trust would cause serious problems. But maybe it’s not all bad news.

Facebook knows it’s important to the integrity of the service that the ads aren’t too intrusive, and prove to be relevant and actually useful. There will also be more integration between Messenger and other apps to “enhance how people and businesses communicate”.***

 

Brands and Messenger in action

When customers of Everlane - the US ethical fashion retailer - make a purchase, they can opt-in to Messenger services during the checkout process. Using Messenger to receive order confirmations and shipping status updates, as well as asking the business free-form questions about the order, will mean quicker responses from the company. ***

 

Source: Facebook Developers

It also places information about your exciting new purchase in a dedicated channel with a distinctly social feel, away from the more formal format of your email inbox. And, of course, it opens a dialogue where you’ll receive tailored product updates and ads, too.

So adverts are coming to a Messenger thread on your phone soon. Beep beep.

 

Sources: 

* Benedict Evans’ blog

**TechCrunch

*** Facebook for Developers