WhatsApp to display targeted ads

Nathan Kettle
By Nathan KettleJunior Front-end Developer
5 minutes to read

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has announced that in 2019, it will begin to display targeted ads to its 1.5 billion users.

The announcement has raised a lot of eyebrows – including the founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, who revealed he left the company in 2017 over this decision.

Reaching users

The ads will be displayed on the status screen and not within messages or on the message homepage. Given that the status screen is likely to be a section of the app not many people are familiar with, it may well mean that it becomes the first thing a user sees when they open the app. Otherwise adverts will be hidden and invisible to many users.

Questions over privacy

To what degree the ads will be targeted, we’re unsure. But given that one of WhatsApp’s key selling points is its dedication to encrypted privacy, targeted advertising goes against this.

A spokesperson for WhatsApp has said that messages ‘will remain end-to-end encrypted’ but hasn’t made the same promise when it comes to user information.

And given that Facebook recently revealed at least 50 million user accounts were compromised, an attack which took it 11 days to put a stop to, it’s no surprise people are concerned over vulnerabilities to private data.

Familiarising users with brands

The announcement also comes after Facebook announced sluggish earnings growth in August. Monetising its 1.5 billion users will certainly seem attractive to the social media giant.

It’s also already making connections between advertising and WhatsApp. Businesses can already place adverts on Facebook that when clicked, open up a new chat in WhatsApp. They can also already send useful information to customers like shipping confirmations and reminders. By doing this, Facebook is already familiarising customers with a method of advertising within the app as well as gently introducing a way to monetise WhatsApp.

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