Why WhatsApp is the next big thing for advertisers

With close to 300 million users, WhatsApp status story advertising will be a more formal and organised way for bigger brands, say industry experts

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Aug 2, 2019 8:16 AM  | 3 min read



Ever since Facebook spoke about introducing advertising in WhatsApp status stories by 2020 at their Marketing Summit in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, marketers and digital experts have been evaluating the scope of the platform.

The digital space is already cluttered with inventory, so why are marketers excited about WhatsApp ads? The clear answer is ‘reach’. “With an estimated user base of over 300 million users, WhatsApp has been the holy grail for brands they have been waiting to get on to,” said Sabyasachi Mitter, Founder and Managing Director at digital marketing agency Fulcro. 

“Let’s assume there are some 300 million active users who spend 10 minutes of average time on the app. Even if we take half of them and let’s say they view about 10 statuses in a week, and if the percentage of ads inserted is a 10 per cent, we are talking an opportunity of 150 million impressions. And that is a very low estimate. WhatsApp story ads have 2-3 times the opportunity that Instagram story provides advertisers,” Mitter added.  

WhatsApp, which is already being heavily used by brands like Swiggy, BookMyShow, Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip, Zomato and Quick Ride for notifications, live tracking and other services. Thus, experts say it is already being used as an advertising platform. 

“There are plenty of small brands that put out product pictures on the platform and also sell them through WhatsApp. Status story advertising will only be a more formal and organised way for bigger brands to put out ads,” said Pranabir Singh, Director, Media Planning at media agency DCMN.

What could be the rates for advertising on WhatsApp? According to experts, close to Rs 2 crore is spent annually by brands only on SMS marketing and WhatsApp would sure be eyeing for a bigger chunk.

On advertising costs, Mitter said, “WhatsApp, in all probabilities, would be added to the same business manager console that is used by brands to advertise on Facebook and Instagram. The rates should also be pretty much the same.”

According to experts, Facebook advertising starts at Rs 40 a day and can go up to lakhs, depending on the product and the targeted demographics and reach.

But who will be using WhatsApp ads? “Initially, the most suitable category for advertising on WhatsApp will be brands in the B2C category like FMCG, Food, Retail and e-commerce. It will be hard for non-consumer facing brands to effectively leverage WhatsApp advertising. The answer to this question also depends heavily on what kind of ads WhatsApp will allow -  will the ads allow users to submit data, or will they be purely meant for giving out information,” said Adhvith Dhuddu, CEO of creative ad tech agency AliveNow.

Elaborating further on WhatsApp ad inventory, Dhuddu said: “There might also be some premium inventory available that large brands might buy which come at a higher price, like how the YouTube masthead is considered premium inventory on YT. If you ask all the marketers, this is the next big platform they're waiting for to open up. WhatsApp is going to be the next big platform for marketing, not just among youngsters but especially among audience aged above 50. This is because the young crowd is more active on Instagram and Facebook. Think about our own parents, aunts and  uncles, if they're 50/55+ they are comparatively more active on WhatsApp than Facebook or Insta.”

For most digital marketers, as long as the user experience is not disturbed and privacy concerns are addressed, brands have a huge opportunity to leverage WhatsApp ads in India. In the digital/online ads ecosystem, they said WhatsApp ads is the next big thing that brands are waiting for. 

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