WhatsApp confirms that users will soon see ads

Over the past we have seen many social media platforms monetize their app with ads, including Instagram, twitter and more recently Snapchat. WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app with over a billion active users has always remained free from ads, until now!

We are going to be putting ads in ‘Status‘. That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.

Chris Daniels, VP at WhatsApp, confirmed in a recent statement that advertisements will be coming to WhatsApp soon. However, the VP didn’t give any timelines on when we expect to see these major changes.

So, will users start to abandon WhatsApp for other messaging apps?

Where will the ads show?

As the above statement confirms the ads will be coming to the ‘Status‘ feature on WhatsApp. Released 2 years ago, the Status allows users to post updates using images, text and videos. The post will then appear to their contacts for a set amount of time. The approach is very similar to Snapchat’s story feature.

Following Snapchat’s success, other Social platforms also started to adopt a similar approach, with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all following the trend. However, we should note that both Instagram and WhatsApp are now owned by Facebook.

On the bright side, the proposed ads for WhatsApp are not too Aggressive as they will not interfere with your private chats and will only appear if you’re on the Status tab.

For business, it’s also a great opportunity to reach potential customers by showing ads on WhatsApp — at this point, no information has been revealed about how this process will work.

Will there be a data protection issue?

Some of your most personal moments are shared on WhatsApp, which is why we built end-to-end encryption into the latest versions of our app

A lot of us using WhatsApp appreciate the fact that WhatsApp is fully encrypted and our personal data is kept secure, therefore, it would be a huge loss if the proposed ad feature compromises this. How can our data get compromised?

Well, the most effective form of advertising is ‘targeted advertising‘, this means your data is collected whilst browsing other websites and you are then targeted with ads based on your interests. Since WhatsApp is an App it may be slightly different. However, given that Facebook owns both WhatsApp and Instagram it could mean that they will store your habits on those apps then target you on WhatsApp. So watch out for the updated terms and conditions when the adverts roll out!

We expect conversations to remain encrypted and secure, however, if WhatsApp decides to integrate with other apps and advertisers it could make WhatsApp more vulnerable.

Can you opt-out from ads?

At this point it’s not clear wether WhatsApp will allow users to opt-out from ads all-together, but given the new GDPR laws that require businesses to give users full transparency and control, WhatsApp may give users the option to opt-out from targeted advertising but not generic ads.

Facebook has been in constant fire regarding data protection over the past year, so it will be interesting to see how WhatsApp approaches this sensitive area and how users will react.

What do you think about ads on WhatsApp? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!