After years of being ad free, WhatsApp is about to start showing users advertising for the first time.
The world’s most popular standalone messaging app has thus far been a safe haven for users used to being buffeted by ads in other apps and online.
But now the company’s vice president has confirmed that it’s time to monetise. “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,” said Chris Daniels.
What does that mean for users – and will some try to move on to another, ad-free service?
What is WhatsApp Status?
WhatsApp Status is the app’s version of Snapchat or Instagram Stories, allowing users to post a time-limited image, video or text post visible to contacts.
The function, rolled out two years ago, allowed users to replace their static “away” messages with a more dynamic post.
Within three months, it had surpassed Snapchat’s user numbers, with 175 million WhatsApp users taking advantage of the function.
However, Status also gives WhatsApp an obvious opportunity to show ads without interrupting private chats – as commercial statuses could be placed among user statuses along the lines of how advertising works with Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
What type of ads will I see?
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and it’s likely the ads will use Facebook’s system. The company’s co-founders recently left over concerns about the direction Mark Zuckerberg would take it. “Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy,” said Brian Acton, who helped set the app up in 2009. On that basis, we can assume that the ads will be personalised as Facebook’s are, using a user profile built with information gathered from the platform and elsewhere. That’s an issue to some users who use the platform for its encryption.
Can I avoid seeing the ads?
We don’t know yet, but there’s no paid tier that removes ads on either Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp’s sister platforms.
A majority of WhatsApp’s users don’t use Status, either, meaning that many will likely be unaffected by the shift and can continue chatting and sharing as they always have.
What are some alternatives to WhatsApp
Wire: A secure messaging service, Wire allows self-destructing messages and doesn’t require you to share your number with others in order to interact.
LINE: Very popular in Japan, LINE is full of functionality, including stickers and conference calls. Everything’s encrypted, as with traditional WhatsApp. T
Telegram: Popular amongst the privacy conscious worldwide, Telegram has a wide variety of features and – unlike WhatsApp – works just as well as a desktop app.
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