Facebook has made strides to monetize its assets in a bid to recoup its investments. WhatsApp by far was their biggest expenditure where they spent $19 billion on the messaging service in 2014.
Last year, we saw reports that WhatsApp will start showing Ads on Stories in 2020. It wasn’t ideal but we understood that Facebook is trying to monetize WhatsApp to recoup their money.
Well it seems that they have shelved that idea. According to the WSJ, sources told the publication that Facebook has backed away from efforts to sell ads in WhatsApp.
The decision to sell ads in WhatsApp led to WhatsApp founders eventually resigining from Facebook. It started with Brian Acton who quit in November 2017 and Jan Koum left shortly after in April 2018.
Wall Street Journal noted that although Facebook won’t introduce ads into the WhatsApp experience, they still plan to show some in the Status feature. WhatsApp apparently disbanded a team that was tasked to find the best way to integrate ads into the service.
In a 2018 interview with Forbes, Brian Acton expressed his displeasure of having ads on WhatsApp. “Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy,” he told Forbes. Apparently Facebook had targeted a $10 billion revenue run rate within 5 years of monetization. Acton reportedly left $900 million in unvested shares while Kuom left $400 milllion in unvested stock options.
WhatsApp used to charge some users $0.99 a year to use WhatsApp which they dropped in 2016. Acton had previously stated that he had better ideas to monetize WhatsApp. He envisioned to send “informational useful content” to WhatsApp users but don’t allow them to track data beyond the phone number.
Well, it seems we have to wait and see how this saga continues at WhatsApp. Monetizing WhatsApp has been a pain for Facebook and its huge global reach and engagement is too tempting for them to ignore.