WhatsApp to start showing ads in status updates

Facebook has made the controversial decision to start showing ads in WhatsApp, and has revealed a sneak preview of what they will look like.

The ads will initially appear only in the "Status" section of the app, which was added last year and is very similar to Instagram Stories.

The ads will appear between status updates and will take up the whole screen, just as they do on Instagram.

Users who click on the ads will be redirected to the advertiser's website, according to Facebook, which showed the preview at its Marketing Summit in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

There are currently no plans to include ads in the main "Chats" section of the app.

Facebook announced that it would be introducing ads to WhatsApp, in an attempt to monetise to the popular messaging app, in November 2018.

As well as showing ads in the "Status" section of the app, the company will also charge businesses a fee to connect with customers.

Users will be able to find customer services via the app and send them a question or complaint.

Businesses will be charged to reply in some situations, with messages costing between Sh0.39 and Sh9 depending on the country the user is based in.

The move is controversial because it goes directly against the wishes of Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who founded WhatsApp in 2009.

When it launched, WhatsApp was offered as a paid-for app. Users would pay an up-front fee to download it and messaging was then free.

WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook in 2014 and, in a blog written prior to the Facebook acquisiton, Acton and Koum promised the app wouldn't become "just another ad clearinghouse".

However, in 2016 WhatsApp announced that it would no longer charge a fee for the service, leaving no clear way for the company to make money.

Acton and Koum both quit the firm last year, after the news emerged that Facebook was planning to monetise the app by selling services to business and advertising.

Acton said he had to leave because Mark Zuckerberg's rush to make money from the app was making him "unhappy".

Coming Soon to @WhatsApp...

- WhatsApp Status (Stories) to get Ads in 2020

- WhatsApp for Businesses to get richer messaging format options

- WhatsApp product catalog to be integrated with existing Facebook Business Manager catalog

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at #FMS19 pic.twitter.com/Z5LsbADNbP

— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) May 21, 2019