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Meta attempts to capitalise on WhatsApp’s popularity with new monetisation strategies: Report | Technology News

In an interview with CNBC, Alice Newton-Rex, WhatsApp’s product director, suggested that the platform remains open to diverse monetisation strategies and that they “haven’t fixed on any one thing yet.”

WhatsApp, which boasts a user base of over 2 billion people worldwide, remains an anomaly in Meta’s portfolio. Unlike Instagram, WhatsApp doesn’t rely on advertising, which is Facebook’s primary source of revenue. It also only generates a tiny fraction of Instagram’s revenue and stands apart from Meta’s ventures into the metaverse and its efforts to challenge TikTok with Reels.

According to the CNBC report, the challenge lies in WhatsApp’s DNA. Co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton publicly criticised the advertising industry back in 2012, expressing that “no one wakes up excited to see more advertising.” WhatsApp’s core function as an encrypted platform for private messaging doesn’t naturally align with advertising.

But Meta’s strategy to monetise WhatsApp has been brewing for five years. They launched the WhatsApp Business app in 2018, designed to facilitate communication between companies and users through verified commercial accounts and in-app tools. As of June, this app boasted 200 million monthly active users, with small businesses enjoying free access and larger enterprises opting for subscription-based features, including building WhatsApp websites and accessing corporate accounts on multiple devices.

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One innovative approach is the “click-to-message” ad, Newton-Rex said. This feature redirects users from Instagram and Facebook to WhatsApp for immediate conversations. This strategy is generating substantial revenue, with WhatsApp-specific click-to-message ads reaching a $1.5 billion annualised run rate, growing more than 80% year over year, as disclosed by Mark Zuckerberg during Meta’s earnings call.

Additionally, WhatsApp has introduced Channels, a feature similar to Telegram’s channels, serving as a “private broadcast service.” It allows organisations and influencers to send messages, updates, and polls to large groups. Although currently limited to a few countries, Channels holds great potential. Alice Newton-Rex shared, “Maybe you’ll be able to subscribe to a channel and you’d pay a small fee to hear from a news outlet or some celebrity who you cared about.”

Channels also opens up possibilities for monetisation, potentially through advertising or paid subscriptions. While the service isn’t currently encrypted, WhatsApp is exploring ways to ensure secure communication for user protection, especially for nonprofits and health organisations.

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