WhatsApp‘s business model has transformed after Meta’s acquisition, shifting from paid features and subscriptions to becoming a free platform. While the app currently maintains an ad-free environment in personal chats and the inbox, the company is contemplating introducing ads in specific sections of the app, according to WhatsApp head Will Cathcart’s interview with Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian publication.
As reported by 9to5Mac, Cathcart clarified that placing ads in personal chats or the inbox goes against the user-centric model, acknowledging that users prefer these spaces free from advertising. However, he hinted at potential ad placements in areas like Public Channels and Status, envisioning a strategic approach to integrate ads without compromising user experience.
In terms of revenue diversification, Cathcart suggested alternative monetization methods. One notable avenue is the WhatsApp Business API, contributing a substantial $10 billion annually. Cathcart proposed exploring additional paid services, including charging users for access to specific channels, drawing parallels with the successful model adopted by Telegram.
The consideration of ads in WhatsApp is not entirely new; back in 2020, it was reported that Meta (then named Facebook) abandoned its idea of displaying ads on the platform. The team dedicated to discovering efficient methods for advertising on WhatsApp was dissolved.
More recently, in September, The Financial Times mentioned that some Meta teams looked into putting ads in the lists of chats on WhatsApp’s home screen. This got people talking about the possibility of ads coming to WhatsApp. However, WhatsApp responded, saying they’re not testing or planning to add ads to the app. They made it clear that this isn’t something they’re working on or thinking about for the future.