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Brace yourselves: Ads in WhatsApp are coming

We do not have a timeline for when targeted ads will arrive in WhatsApp, though they will arrive in the app's Status section.

Published onOctober 31, 2018

A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone.
  • WhatsApp confirmed it would soon include ads in the app.
  • The ads will live in the Status section, which Facebook claims has over 450 million daily active users.
  • Facebook’s native advertising system will likely power WhatsApp’s ads.

For almost 10 years, WhatsApp defied the odds and staunchly rejected placing advertisements in the app. Unfortunately, WhatsApp vice-president Chris Daniels confirmed with Outlook India that the messaging service’s opposition to ads would soon come to an end.

According to Daniels, WhatsApp will place ads in the Status section. This is the section that takes more than a few inspirations from Instagram Stories and lets you share text, photos, videos, and GIFs. After 24 hours, any content you put in the Status section disappears.

Daniels added that ads in the Status section would be the “primary monetization mode for the company as well as an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.” Daniels did not say when WhatsApp users can expect to see ads in the app or whether the messaging service has plans for additional revenue streams. Facebook’s native advertising system would reportedly serve as the backbone for ads in WhatsApp.

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Regardless of how sad this news makes me, I cannot pretend to be surprised. Ever since Facebook scooped up WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion, it was only a matter of time until ads made their way to the messaging service. This was something that WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton felt uncomfortable with up until his departure from the company in November 2017.

“I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. I live with that every day,” said Acton in an interview with Forbes. He also said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to monetize WhatsApp with targeted ads, which led to Acton leaving the company he co-founded.

We can presume that the targeted ads will not compromise WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption and collect data from the app directly. Even so, targeted ads in the messaging service will probably arrive sometime next year.