Although countless chat applications have attempted to upend standard text messaging in the United States, only the Facebook Messenger app has a major impact on the way we interact we our friends and family members.
There have been a few visual overhauls and plenty of added features since the app launched in 2011, but the most significant change of all looks to be right around the corner: ads are coming to Messenger.
When the update arrives, businesses will be able to send ads to users who have messaged them in the past. Therefore, Facebook is recommending that businesses start getting fans to send them messages now, before the feature launches in the coming months.
Further validation of the document came in the form of new URL short link fb.com/msg, which allows users to instantly open a chat with a business without having to navigate through the Facebook News Feed. So, for example, fb.com/msg/nike will instantly begin a conversation with the Nike brand, opening the user up for ads in the future.
When TechCrunch asked Facebook about bringing ads to Messenger, this was the response they received: “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation. 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.”
I can’t imagine an instance where an ad appearing in my notifications would be a “wanted message,” but if the leaked document is legitimate, it sounds like the only people who will receive ads are the ones who initiate conversations with brands in the first place.
As for what the ads will consist of, the document claims that they will allow businesses to continue the conversation in relevant ways, which could mean notifications for sales on products they’ve asked about in the past, announcing a new product relating to items they’ve bought in the past or simply sending videos/GIFs to try to draw customers back in.
If the response is overwhelmingly negative, there’s a good chance that Facebook will decide not to go through with it. But there’s no question that it could be a major revenue driver if users are willing to put up with it.