WhatsApp is currently free from ads, but that will not always be the case – and once they arrive, they might be targeted using your Facebook data.
There are rumblings about ads in WhatsApp for months, with a 2020 launch pencilled into the calendar.
The plan initially involved working ads into users’ conversations, but earlier this year the Wall Street Journal reported that the team assigned this (potentially very unpopular) task had been disbanded, and their work faraway from the app’s code.
That wasn’t the top of the story though, and Facebook said it had been still considering adding ads to WhatsApp’s Status feature (its equivalent of Stories, which allows you to share messages that are only visible for a brief period of time).
Instagram (also owned by Facebook) already includes this sort of advertising, with full-page ads that take up your whole screen for a quick period.
Things went quiet on the advertising front after January, but consistent with a replacement report within the Information, Facebook hasn’t abandoned its plans to sell ads in WhatsApp, and is getting to personalize them using your Facebook data.
In January 2019, Facebook announced that it might be integrating Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, rebuilding the apps “at their most elementary levels” in order that they all add fundamentally an equivalent way.
That would also require all three apps to use end-to-end encryption – a feature that’s currently offered by WhatsApp, but not Instagram or Messenger.
The company made it clear that it wasn’t getting to merge the three services into one giant unified app, but consistent with The Information’s report, it’s instead getting to use phone numbers to match up your various accounts and make one pool of knowledge to point out you targeted ads on all services.
WhatsApp was unable to discuss that directly, but a spokesperson gave us the subsequent statement: “As we’ve said before, ads in Status remains a long-term opportunity for WhatsApp, and that we believe it’ll be an excellent way for people to get a business that’s important to them within the future. That hasn’t changed. But immediately our focus is on building new features to assist businesses connect with their customers and providing payments during a number of nations .”
It looks like advertising won’t be coming just yet, which suggested 2020 date could even be pushed back as WhatsApp focuses on its business products, but be prepared for the ads to be surprisingly personal once they appear.