Mark Zuckerberg has always assured: Facebook intends to make the purchase of WhatsApp profitable. On Wednesday, August 1, the social network officially launched the process of monetization of the messaging application, which it bought back in 2014 for 19 billion dollars (16.3 billion euros). He unveiled new fee-based options for companies wishing to communicate with platform users. And announced the next arrival of commercials.
The departure of the founder
This announcement comes a week after a historic stock market plunge. In one session, Facebook’s market capitalization has shrunk by $ 119 billion. In the second quarter, the company experienced a slowdown in growth. And the number of users has increased by only 1.5%, a historical low. Its officials have also warned that this deceleration should continue, resulting in a sharp contraction of margins. In this context, the monetization of other applications is therefore essential.
In late April, Jan Koum, the founder, and boss of WhatsApp, also announced his resignation. According to the US press, his decision is related to disputes with the leaders of the social network, especially about the use of personal data. In 2016, contrary to its promise, the messaging had for example begun to provide Facebook information, such as phone numbers and smartphones used, which can be used for advertising purposes.
WhatsApp had also agreed to review its business model and open up to businesses. Since last year, the application, which has more than 1.5 billion followers, allows them to communicate directly with users. According to WhatsApp, more than three million companies already use this feature. To reach new customers, they will now be able to buy ads on Facebook’s news feed, which will open a discussion directly on WhatsApp.
Conversations will remain free provided companies respond within 24 hours. After this time, they will have to pay between 0.5 and 9 cents (0.43 and 7.7 euro cents) to send a message, depending on the country. New paid options will also be billed at the same rate. In particular, they will automatically send “non-promotional” notifications, such as a boarding pass, the confirmation of a delivery or the reminder of an appointment.
Advertisements on the status
From 2019, WhatsApp will then start displaying advertisements. They will initially be limited to status, the equivalent of “stories”, a format popularized by Snapchat that allows sharing for limited time photos and short videos. More than 450 million WhatsApp followers use this feature each month. For the moment, the application does not plan to display ads in the inbox, as does Facebook Messenger.
The arrival of the advertisement will mark a real break for WhatsApp. Refusing to comply with the advertising model, its founders had initially adopted a paid model (99 cents per year after a first free year). At the time of the buyout, in 2014, Mr. Zuckerberg seemed to share their opinion. “I do not think advertising is the best way to monetize courier services,” he said.