While Messenger dominates the messaging landscape in western markets, WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, covers pretty much everywhere else.
The app has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, sharing more than 60 billion messages per day, a huge amount of on platform activity. The problem for Facebook, however, as with Messenger, is that messaging is harder to monetize. You can't just insert feed-style ads into private messaging streams and expect users to be okay with it.
But Facebook is taking steps towards converting that attention into cash. Last year, WhatsApp rolled out it's WhatsApp Business app, which enables business users to "interact with customers easily by using tools to automate, sort, and quickly respond to messages".
A year on, and WhatsApp says that there are now more than 5 million businesses using the app - and to mark the first anniversary of its launch, WhatsApp is now extending some WhatsApp Business features to both desktop and the mobile web.
As per WhatsApp:
"To help celebrate the first year of WhatsApp Business, we're announcing that some of our most popular features can now be used on WhatsApp web and desktop.
These features include:
- Quick Replies - These are frequent messages to answer common questions. Simply press the “/” on your keyboard to select a quick reply and send.
- Labels - Organize your contacts or chats with labels, so you can easily find them again.
- Chat List Filtering - Easily manage your chats with filters to sort by unread messages, groups or broadcast lists."
The expansion will make it easier for more businesses to utilize the app's business tools within their regular social customer service flow, which may lead to more brands adding WhatsApp to their communication options.
And it is definitely worth considering - as noted, WhatsApp is hugely popular, and dominates the market in many regions. If you're utilizing Messenger, it's not overly difficult to expand that capacity to WhatsApp too, and these new tools will make it easier to manage both from one stream.
The growth of messaging is undeniable, and while it may take more work for the platforms to incorporate ads via message, the customer service benefits can be significant.