Last August, Facebook launched News Feed ads that would open chat in Whatsapp. This made it possible for buyers to take with the business in the encrypted messaging app through their Facebook Timelines. They also released the WhatsApp Business API and informed the New York Times of its plans to start showing ads in the WhatsApp Status feature in the coming year.
These moves and planning are all to monetize WhatsApp. Despite its past experience of remaining independent from Facebook since its acquisition, it seems that Facebook is starting to open up in bringing Whatasapp as an ad channel. The first installment of ads is coming this year and it’s time to find out just what marketers and advertisers think about this move.
Barely any surprise there.
Most people aren’t surprised as more and more people are spending their time on mobile. With the success ads have had in Messenger, WhatsApp ads just seemed like the next obvious move according to Ben-Itzhak. It’s just the same with other channels that have succeeded in bringing organic engagement.
Ryan Kelly of Nanigans and Akvile DeFazio of AKvertise agreed with Ben-Itzhak’s sentiments. As Facebook has continually expanded its advertising opportunities in every part possible, it’s just next in line. As we know, they have done it for Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger so the success is really there.
Though DeFazio currently doesn’t have any interested clients in Whatsapp ads, it’s still expected for it to be monetized. It will still be a new opportunity to increase ad revenue and expand reach especially with the younger generation. She believes that with time, more and more advertisers will give WhatsApp a try with test campaigns and their success.
Allocation of Ad Budgets
CEO of Socialbakers agreed with DeFazio on the need to test these ad opportunities first and evaluate them. These will then drive the major decision if they will shift their ad budgets into WhatsApp ads.
The smart move in Whatsapp, according to Yuval Ben-Itzhak, is to create ads that are significant and personalized. It will be almost as if one is chatting with friends. It’s going to be a whirlwind to see which format works best on the platform. With WhatsApp’s audience reaching more than 1.5 billion, there’s a true opportunity for brands. It’s all about creating authenticity despite being an ad.
Manual ad dollar moving won’t be the preferred option with most advertisers most likely opting to use Facebook for automatic placement of Whatsapp ads. This statement from Nanigans’ VP was brought upon their experience a few quarters ago where 54% of the time their US clients used the automatic placement of ads within the ad options. This was a huge increase from the past quarter of automatic placement.
Kelly believes that a lot of advertisers don’t see the Facebook News Feed budget as any different from Instagram’s. The moment WhatsApp opens its ads, most will probably just trust Facebook to strategically provide the ads through the ecosystem. They also think this will optimize the performance of the advertiser.
Will WhatsApp ads be effective?
Jasmine Pickel of North 6th Agency (N6A) is a bit apprehensive as she thinks some may find WhatsApp ads intrusive. This was also brought up by David Simon of SteelHouse who added that it could backfire depending on the advertiser. If businesses don’t realize that the app is a private environment, it may create a feeling of lack of privacy for users.
It will be all about creating a balance between the ads and the users. It’s important to keep in mind that the user’s private experience must not feel attacked by the ads. In doing so, they may avoid users feeling like people are interrupting their private conversations. He believes that creating “push” advertising like display ads would just not work.
While Snapchat has been successful in doing this, it’s a platform that’s known for creating branded interactions. They placed the ads in places where people can expect them and wouldn’t feel annoyed by it. Meanwhile, Whatsapp ads have to be personalized and interactive. It may even use AI-driven communications for the brands to create a better connection.
Despite the struggle to foresee how people will view these Whatsapp ads, Simon still believes there is a good platform on how it can connect with customers. If it’s made well in personalizing and creating a good communication fusion, it can create a good change in a brand’s social digital plan.
What’s the relevance of these ads?
With over 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp has a big market. More than 450 million of those use the app daily, there is real value in it. With every social media platform getting filled with so many brands fighting to get noticed, WhatsApp will provide a new space. Marketers have a fresh start to creating a great and memorable strategy for these users.
Instagram’s ad growth has just increased so much in the past year and this could be the same road WhatsApp will be driving. It could be a major growth for Facebook as its own ad growth has slowed down. It just has to master a way for these ads to be shown as a meaningful connection from consumer to brand. Once it has done this, it’s going to lead to a major move for brands to open up ad budgets and boost sales through a new audience.
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