For businesses trying to reach customers through WhatsApp, Facebook has made an important update that impacts advertiser metrics. As reported by Marketing Land, Facebook ads that direct users to start a chat session with a business now have objectives available to them for traffic, website conversions and post engagement.
Here’s how the ads work. They’re purchased on Facebook’s Ad Manager and display on a user’s News Feed. Running them allows marketers and advertisers an avenue to start conversations with potential customers. Currently, WhatsApp does not have any Chatbot capability, so businesses must manually respond to any messages they receive as a result.
Facebook began rolling out Click-to-WhatsApp ads in late 2017. Since advertising remains limited, the Click-to-WhatsApp ads have quietly floated under the radar. But this new update demonstrates that Facebook is progressing towards bringing ads onto the popular messaging app.
In January 2018, WhatsApp Business launched as a free app for Android intended for small businesses that use the platform to converse with customers. The platform includes options for businesses to share valuable information with customers such as store addresses and website links. It also makes it easier for businesses to set up quick replies to send fast answers to frequently asked questions.
Later in the year, WhatsApp made more improvements to its business application. It added the capability for companies to deliver helpful information to customers (think boarding passes from airlines sent through the app). Businesses also could provide real-time support to customers needing questions answered or help when resolving an issue.
There’s been some discussion about other ways WhatsApp may open its platform to advertisers. One possible avenue is to run ads on its popular Status feature. Status is similar to social stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. According to The Economic Times, WhatsApp Vice President, Chris Daniels, disclosed the potential for Status ads while speaking to reporters at an event in New Delhi in late 2018.
Bringing full-blown ads to WhatsApp appears to be an inevitability for Facebook. Traditional sources of ad revenue, such as the News Feed, are becoming exhausted. Some experts have questioned whether the oversaturation of ads is causing consumer fatigue. Facebook has rolled out advertising to other platforms it owns, such as Instagram. In Q3 of last year, Instagram generated an estimated $2 billion, or 15 percent, of Facebook’s total $13-billion revenue.
There’s a sizeable audience that can be marketed to on WhatsApp. Of Facebook’s four major properties, WhatsApp has the second most monthly active users. With 1.5 billion people logging in to use WhatsApp all around the world, that’s a half million more than Instagram’s user base.
Time spent on phones continues to increase as well. American adults were projected to spend an average of three-and-a-half hours per day on mobile devices last year according to eMarketer. Being a mobile-based platform bodes well for WhatsApp’s advertising ambitions.
Facebook purchased WhatsApp for roughly $20 billion in 2014. The messaging platform’s growth since then makes the price tag seem like a worthwhile investment.