It’s official! Advertising is coming to WhatsApp, and with it, an opportunity to reach some of the messaging platform’s billion plus users.
Already, Facebook has introduced an ad-unit in Facebook News Feed that allows a user to start a direct 1-to-1 WhatsApp conversation, but marketing professionals should be more excited about the changes coming next, directly within WhatsApp, that could potentially reach millions of people.
Details are scant, but ads are coming “sometime in 2019,” and it could revolutionize how marketers, nonprofits and global organizations reach everyone from paying customers to those they’re trying to help.
If you’re new to WhatsApp, here are some fast facts:
- WhatsApp has as many as 1.5 billion monthly users.
- It’s the dominant messenger platform around the world, especially in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India.
- It was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $19 Billion.
- Fun fact: The founders of WhatsApp created the app following their failure to get hired at Facebook.
- Thus far, it has been an ad-free platform.
The most likely avenue for ad units on WhatsApp is the “WhatsApp Status” feature. It’s a user-generated video or image that stays at the top of a user’s profile (and their friends’ message dashboard) for 24 hours.
Sound familiar? This is the same tactic Facebook used to create additional ad inventory on Messenger, the Facebook App and most notably, Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories rocketed to popularity in 2018, reaching as many as 300 million users after borrowing a page from Snapchat’s Story feature. WhatsApp Status has upwards of 450 million daily users. This is a good reminder that what’s popular among our friends or American users in general, isn’t always the same everywhere else.
Advertising on WhatsApp would create billions of opportunities for daily impressions that were never before available to advertisers and their clients. It also means potential reach to millions of people who were otherwise not accessible on other social platforms for brands, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
No marketer wants to be caught off guard, so, what can communicators expect?
The clues may lie in how Facebook recently monetized Messenger and Instagram. On both platforms, video and graphic ads can be purchased directly through Facebook Business Manager in tandem with a larger Facebook buy. Assuming Facebook is not trying to reinvent the wheel with WhatsApp, marketers may be able to reach hundreds of millions of people on the messaging platform through their already-existing Facebook Business Manager accounts.
That means think bright, creative imagery, people-first storytelling, and attention-getting video that makes the most of the first few seconds of a user’s attention.
When making your 2019 content plans, keep in mind that billions of previously unavailable ad impressions may be up for grabs and the space is ready to be pioneered.
Need help making those plans for an all-new ad network? Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.