NEW YORK—Are you ready to embrace ads inside Facebook Messenger?
That prospect just got a bit closer with the social network's announcement in a blog post aimed at advertisers Tuesday that indicated that Messenger ads are going global.
After what Facebook declared were “promising tests” in Australia and Thailand, the company is now about to expand its Messenger ads beta push more broadly.
The rollout will be slow and Facebook is vague on precise timing. But Facebook says a small percentage of people around the world, including in the U.S, will start to see Messenger ads in the coming weeks.
How the more than 1.2 billion monthly Messenger users react will depend on how Facebook implements them.
“People who use Facebook Messenger to communicate with all their friends aren’t likely to simply abandon it just because ads start showing up there. But I’d expect Facebook to be very careful in how they roll out ads in Messenger anyway,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research.
According to Facebook, Messenger ads will appear in the home tab, not in Messenger threads. The ads will use the same targeting as other Facebook ad products, and Facebook says the company does not use the content of messages between people for ads targeting. A user who taps on an ad may be sent to a company website or may begin a Messenger conversation with an advertiser, depending on how the ad was created.
People can hide or report Messenger ads in the same way they can hide or report an ad in the Facebook News Feed or on Instagram.
Facebook already lets companies run ads in the Facebook News Feed and Instagram Feed that drive people to chat inside Messenger with the advertising company’s bot.
As part of the Messenger Platform, more than 2 billion messages are exchanged monthly between people and businesses, including automated and people-initiated exchanges, Facebook says.
Dawson believes “Messaging apps feel like a much more personal place than social networking, because the usual content of a messaging app is personal communication from people you’ve explicitly engaged in conversation with. So the wrong types of ads in the wrong places feel like much more of a violation of that personal space than in a social networking feed."
The flip side? The new discovery tab for finding business accounts and bots seems like a great fit for advertising, and not nearly as invasive, he said.
Facebook wouldn’t share any metrics on consumer acceptance during its tests in Australia and Thailand, which were first announced in January. But inside the company’s latest blog post, it quoted Michiel Tops, general manager of marketing and communications at the Australian department store David Jones:“Messenger ads have been a powerful addition to our digital advertising campaigns, helping us reach our customers where they are already active and engaged."
What’s Facebook’s motivation? Analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research, says “If Facebook and Google did nothing else, the two of them together are 90% of all digital advertising….You can’t really expand the market by much…When you are the market, you need to grow the market."
Adds Dawson: ”Facebook has been saying since late last year that the News Feed in the core Facebook app is getting pretty close to saturated as far as ads are concerned – in other words, the roughly one ad per ten posts you see in the News Feed is about as many as Facebook thinks it can squeeze in there. So if they want to keep showing more ads to the same users, they have to find other places to do that."