Facebook will start putting ads into its Messenger apps in Q2 2016, according to a leaked internal document. Businesses will be able to send promotional messages to Messenger users, but only if they’ve interacted with them before.
“To prepare, the document recommends that businesses get consumers to start message threads with them now so they’ll be able to send them ads when the feature launches,” reports TechCrunch, which obtained the document.
“The document also notes that Facebook has quietly launched a URL short link fb.com/msg/ that instantly opens a chat thread with a business.”
Facebook has confirmed the existence of that URL short link, which all but confirms the validity of the document itself. However, the social network refused to comment on the possibility of the ads.
“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” it said in a statement. “That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type.”
Those 800 million people use Facebook free of charge, so the company makes money by showing them ads. We already have them in Facebook on the web and in its mobile apps, so it’s no surprise the company is planning to bring them to Messenger.
But rather than displaying them inside your chats, the company will allow businesses to send them to you directly. I’m not sure whether that will be more irritating or not; we’ll have to wait and see how strict Facebook is about who can receive ad messages.
If you don’t interact with businesses on Facebook, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to receive ads from them. That should prevent spam messages advertising products you have no interest in. It’s also possible that Facebook will allow users to block individual businesses.
There’s no word on whether Facebook will take the same approach to WhatsApp later. When it acquired the messaging firm back in 2014, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I don’t personally think ads are the right way to monetize messaging.” Clearly that opinion has changed now.