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What Might Facebook's Messenger Ads Look Like?

By Motley Fool Staff and Sean O'Reilly - Feb 28, 2016 at 7:20AM

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Who might be trying to sell you what while you chat with family?

Facebook's (META 1.70%) plans to monetize its Messenger app have apparently been leaked. Based on the admittedly scant information we have, the plan appears to be a lot less invasive and annoying than the phrase "putting ads in your private messages" might at first imply.

In this clip, Dylan Lewis and Sean O'Reilly talk about how these commercials are likely going to appear. They also discuss one important factor that differentiates this new effort from other, less successful attempts to monetize messaging services.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on Feb. 19, 2016. 

Dylan Lewis: TechCrunch got ahold of this document that details Facebook's plans to launch ads in the Messenger app, ideally in Q2 of 2016, so coming up soon. This would be the company's first efforts to monetize the 800 million-user property, and could probably lay the groundwork for monetizing WhatsApp as well.

Sean O'Reilly: Cool.

Lewis: Facebook's comment in response to the article: "We don't comment on rumor or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high-quality, engaging experience for our 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type." I think that makes it clear that...

O'Reilly: They're doing it.

Lewis: ... they're doing it.

O'Reilly: That is exactly what you would say if you were doing it.

Lewis: Right. "We're not going to say we're not doing it, but we're doing it."

O'Reilly: " ... but we're doing it."

Lewis: As to what the actual ads will look like, individuals that have communicated with a business via Messenger in the past can be targeted for these ad messages, and they would be things like possibly sales promotions, announcing new products, coupon codes, things like that. One of the things that I think is very interesting is they have this mandate that you have to have been in touch with this company beforehand, and it sounds like it needs to be user-initiated contact.

O'Reilly: Which makes this move definitely less onerous than at first glance, because we all remember back in the days when AIM, AOL Instant Messenger, was struggling, and this is 10-15 years ago now, but they just crammed ads down your face. There was always an ad there, and it was like, "Why am I seeing this? It makes no sense. I've never used this product." I don't know, it was probably one of its downfalls. At least it's... If I'm a Comcast, I'm just throwing that out there, I don't know, but if I use Facebook Messenger to communicate with Comcast and then they show me a bundle on it, it's less crazy.

Lewis: Messaging apps, I think the potential for ads can be even more invasive, right?

O'Reilly: Right.

Lewis: Because with your average online browsing experience, you know in the side, maybe up top in an article and then down at the bottom of an article, possibly even interrupting an article, you're going to see something. It's just part of the flow of browsing.

O'Reilly: Unless you have a really good ad blocker.

Lewis: Unless you have a really good ad block. With messaging apps, it's weird to get notifications for something that is a solicitation.

O'Reilly: Right. "I'm just trying to talk to my mother about my son. Go away."

Lewis: You'll get push notifications for an app, but that's getting you to reengage with the app. It's not trying to sell you something necessarily, and so it's a little different.

Dylan Lewis has no position in any stocks mentioned. Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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