WhatsApp is Facebook's most expensive acquisition ($22 bn) and is also absolutely free. So free, in fact, that you couldn't pay for it even if you wanted to. And while the "freeness" of it won't change anytime soon, there will be ads. Oh, there will
Following the departures of WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton in May — who left the company after disagreements with Facebook over monetizing the popular chat app — a new report by the Wall Street Journal reveals Facebook's intentions to introduce Status ads to WhatsApp starting next year.
The company also wants different businesses to be able to contact customers directly via WhatsApp. The announcement came in the form of an official blog post:
"WhatsApp is building new tools to help people and businesses communicate with each other. Since we launched the WhatsApp Business app people have told us that it's quicker and easier to chat with a business than making a call or sending an e-mail. Today we are expanding our support for businesses that need more powerful tools to communicate with their customers."
According to the WhatsApp, around a hundred companies have been testing the feature, including Singapore Airlines, e-commerce company Wish, and Uber.
As for the Status ads in the chat app, they are expected to roll out next year, as per the WSJ:
"Status allows users to post montages of text, photos and video that appear for 24 hours—similar to an Instagram tool called Stories. About 450 million people use WhatsApp Status, compared with about 400 million who use Instagram Stories, which already shows ads."
Messages from businesses will continue to be offered on an opt-in basis, thankfully.