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WhatsApp Story Ads: 4 Questions We Have For The Big Move

WhatsApp Story Ads:
4 Questions We Have For The Big Move

Good ol’ Mark Zuckerburg – we knew this was coming. From the moment Facebook acquired WhatsApp and became its parent company, we knew that the original ad-free ethos was going to be changed at some point.

However, we don’t think that any of us really pictured it to go this way.

Who remembers when the ‘story’ feature was still brand new? Snapchat was a shiny new addition in the app store, and it gave us the option to give our friends and followers day-long, disappearing updates on our daily life. It was just the feature younger millennials and Gen-Z were on the lookout for – in an age of oversharing and constantly deciding on what’s feed-worthy and not, it gave us the option to keep others clued into our daily lives with images and videos that we deemed important enough to share, but not so important that they permanently deserved a place on our feed.

Slowly but steadily, Instagram noticed how popular this feature got and immediately picked it up, followed by Facebook. And of course, while the general public rejoiced over this new, cool little feature, the people in the Snapchat HQ had already begun planning on how they could tap into the potential market this created for advertisers. Enter: story ads!

Yet again, Snapchat started it, and Instagram and Facebook followed. We’ve been seeing story ads for a while now – but another crowd-favorite app has decided that it’s time to hop aboard the train. Yes, WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook recently announced that WhatsApp story ads will soon be a thing.

Now, let’s be realistic. We all expected this. After all, when Facebook acquired WhatsApp, we can only imagine that they were ready to start monetizing the user base at some point, right? Moreover, given WhatsApp’s popularity and large user base (1.2 Bn+ users and counting), it’s only logical to start gathering data and tap into this potential market audience.

Since this move was announced quite recently, we don’t necessarily have a lot of details on the specifics of it all. But, we do have some preliminary questions that we’d like answered soon.

  • The biggest question here is – how are they getting our data? At this point, we all are quite aware of the fact that by using social media websites and apps, we sign away our right to privacy. But WhatsApp prides itself on safe, confidential, encrypted conversations, and quite frankly, that’s what we had originally signed up for. Should we now expect to see an ad “coincidentally” pop up between two stories talking about that new lipstick that you had just messaged your friend about?
  • WhatsApp had originally built its brand on providing users with an ad-free space, and they had made that quite clear in the public space. Current users had knowingly signed up for this ideology and promise. Since this is being changed, would there be a sense of mistrust or betrayal within the user community? And would this affect its current user base?
  • This move sort of opens up the playing field for other messaging apps – if the general public is heavily against this change and views it as an invasion of their privacy, will apps like Telegram take over the market? It’s important to note that apps like WhatsApp, especially in India, are practically ingrained into our daily lives. From office group chats to makeup reselling groups, our community and businesses have grown exponentially through this app. Is this move big enough to deter us?
  • Let’s put out a reality check: yes, 1.2+ Bn people use WhatsApp. But, how many of those people actually use the story feature? It’s a feature that’s quite often overlooked and not in use by many of us. So… is there really a point in investing time, money, and effort in running ads there?

It’s going to be a while before all these questions are answered, but let’s fast forward a little into the future. Assuming it all goes down well and we now have this humongous user base (read: potential market audience) to tap into, how do we cash in on this?

Looking at the reaction of the general public over this announcement, this move can be best described as ‘invasive’ for most audiences. Messaging apps are viewed as a more personal and intimate platform as compared to social media, and no matter how good your ad is, if the viewer feels that it’s invasive and/or promptly skips through it, it’s a waste. Thus, for brands looking to cash in on this, it is imperative that the content is engaging and provides value to WhatsApp users, instead of being interruptive to their app experience. The ads shouldn’t be extremely promotional or feel out of place, either.

So, are WhatsApp ads a deal-breaker for you, or are you happily embracing the change? Let us know in the comments! And, if you’re someone looking to tap into this (or looking for any digital marketing services in general), #WeBeeHappyToHelp!

WeBeeSocial is a full service creative digital marketing agency in New Delhi India. Our In-house digital team can help you identify the correct online audience, optimize your social media channels and design the best ads & social media campaigns. Feel free to connect with us to inquire more about our services here.

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