What the Wall Street Journal predicted three months before gets confirmation now from WhatsApp’s Vice President, Chris Daniels: The Facebook-owned company is planning to bring in some revenue from advertisements. He said in New Delhi on Wednesday that the company is going to put ads in the ‘Status’ feature. That will be the company’s ‘primary monetization mode’ and also an opening for businesses to reach the users of the app, he said. The Status feature was introduced last year, along with the lines of Instagram and Snapchat, and now it has about 450 million users. With the feature, users can post text, photos, videos or a combination of these on their profiles, which will be visible for contacts for a period of 24 hours.
The WSJ report had said that about 100 companies including Netflix are testing the feature, which is expected to hit the app sometime in 2019. The report had also mentioned that WhatsApp will charge the companies an amount between $0.005 and $0.09 per customer. Considering the size of the customer base, the revenue from this will be considerable. Having bought the app for $22 billion four years ago, it is not a big surprise that Facebook is looking for some returns. This is to be read along with the fact that Facebook lost more than $120 billion in last July when its shares plunged by 19 percent on a single day.
WhatsApp had a plan to introduce subscriptions in 2016 which was dropped eventually. The users were then assured that the company will stick to its original principles and no ads will interrupt their communication. The app has changed since then, as many of its co-founders left the company. One reason behind this was said to be Mark Zuckerberg’s insistence on generating revenue from the app through ads. Targeted advertisements will need to know the users’ needs and preferences and it is difficult to unearth these details without compromising on WhatsApp’s encryption technology. Brian Acton, one of the co-founders, has told reporters that this is what prompted him to leave the company.