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Facebook Inserts Ads into Messenger
There are currently over 1 billion messages sent between users and businesses on Facebook Messenger every month. This figure comes from Eddie Zhang, Facebook's Product Manager for Messenger, who just announced that the social network will start testing a new advertising model in the messaging app. The ads will be targeted the same way that Facebook targets users in the News Feed but in this case, the ads will be shown below the user’s list of recent conversations in a carousel format, as per below.
The test is currently being rolled out to users in Australia and Thailand. Zhang made a point to say that these advertisements will not originate from the middle of a conversation but only appear on the Contacts screen. However, once a user clicks one of these ads or starts a conversation with a business on Facebook, he implied that they may then see additional advertisements mid-conversation. He went on to state: “Of course, the few people who are in this test are in complete control of their Messenger experience and can choose to hide/report specific ads using the dropdown menu in their Messenger. Advertisers will still not be able to message users directly unless a person starts the interaction and people will not see a message from a business that they didn’t initiate.”
The move follows the social network testing out advertising that appears in the middle of Facebook videos, which we wrote about here. This “mid-roll” advertising format would insert a short ad in a video clip after a user has watched it for at least 20 seconds and follows YouTube’s advertising model of giving content creators 55% of the revenue. This is a clear indication that the company is competing with Google, which owns YouTube, for advertising revenue and is attempting to attract content creators.
Last year, Facebook allowed businesses to create chat bots which could interact with users on its Messenger application. According to Business Insider, “that effort has yet to produce any kind of meaningful revenue.” According to its most recent financial statements, Facebook earned approximately $26 billion in advertising revenue in 2016.