Social Media

Facebook shelves WhatsApp ads, shifts focus to WhatsApp Business, reports say

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 18, 2020 Published on January 18, 2020

Facebook has shelved its plans of introducing WhatsApp ads, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The tech giant has also disbanded the team in charge of planning out the best ways to integrate ads into the popular messaging service, said the report.

“The team's work was then deleted from WhatsApp’s code,” said people familiar with the matter as quoted in the WSJ report.

Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2014 for $22 billion. The company announced its plan to introduce targeted ads for WhatsApp back in 2018. Facebook had even previewed the ad format that the social media giant had been working on at the Facebook Marketing Summit last year.

Controversial WhatsApp ads policy

Facebook’s decision to monetise WhatsApp had led to the resignation of WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton in 2017 giving up “$850 million on the table,” according to reports.

In an interview with Forbes, Acton had openly expressed his distress over Facebook’s plans for WhatsApp and his disagreement with the decision to monetise the platform through ads.

“Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy,” Acton said in the Forbes interview.

“His motto at WhatsApp had been “No ads, no games, no gimmicks”— a direct contrast with a parent company that derived 98 per cent of its revenue from advertising,” the Forbes report said.

Chief executive and co-founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum had followed suit stepping down from his position later that year. Koum had quit Facebook over disagreements about privacy and encryption, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Shifting focus on WhatsApp Business

Facebook will now shift focus on WhatsApp Business for monetisation and will add new business products to earn revenue, WSJ reported. WhatsApp Business was launched in January 2018 as a marketing platform for businesses to connect with their consumers.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger together have over 2.2 billion users on average every day, according to Facebook’s latest earnings report. WhatsApp alone has 1.5 billion users worldwide.

After the release of the WSJ report, Facebook told Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner that WhatsApp ads “remain a long-term opportunity” but are no longer a priority, according to a report published in the Newsweek. There has been no official message from Facebook on the matter yet.

Published on January 18, 2020
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