Facebook introduces ads to Messenger; should you be excited?

Facebook has opened up Facebook Messenger for ads from brands who use Messenger’s developer tools to manage their Messenger conversations. We spoke to digital heads to understand what this means for digital marketers

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Nov 14, 2016 8:52 AM
Facebook introduces ads to Messenger; should you be excited?

Facebook Messenger is opening up its messaging app ad format to all brands who use Messenger’s developer tools to manage their Messenger conversations, Facebook announced last week.

“Designed to provide visibility into optimal entry points, enhance existing conversations, and enable you to build better overall experiences, Messenger Platform v1.3 will give you more opportunities to effectively reach and engage over 1 billion people who use Messenger every month,” wrote Facebook on their official developer forum.

The ads will be rolled out, says Facebook, across the world in the coming days. So what does it mean for India?

One thing to realize is that these ads will only allow the brand to target people who already are involved in an active messenger conversation with the brand.  This will create some barrier, says Gautamm Mehra, Chief Data Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network.

“Also, it will encourage brands to start using messenger as a form of communication with existing and prospective customers. The fact that you can now drive people to messenger via ads and then deliver sponsored messages if they did choose to engage is quite powerful and can blur the lines between advertising and CRM, which in my opinion is a good thing. We have to stop looking at "campaigns" and siloed budgets but look at consumer marketing and how these fit in,” he further added.

But will more ads on messenger make Facebook another ad heavy platform? It is no secret that Facebook is trying hard to monetize its different properties. According to Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO of Mirum India, “There is definitely going to be some context to the ads that come on Messenger.” He also agreed that there is a definite drive towards monetizing the different Facebook properties and Messenger is just one, which would be followed by others according to him.

But how big is this a development for advertisers?

For one, Messsenger is an opt-in service as opposed to the Newsfeed. Also, the way Facebook is defining it right now, it seems to be more of an additional component rather than a key part of the marketing mix.

“Usage of FB messenger is anyway not as extensive, nor as seamless as WhatsApp. It'll be interesting if Facebook offers the option of targeting folks when they are active on the app and also the chance to do hyper local marketing. Couple this with an interesting chatbot and this throws up some interesting options for brands. This will also keep marketers excited about options on Facebook. Last but not least this will try and keep the ad revenue juggernaut that is Facebook moving well into 2017,” opined Siddharth Hegde, CEO and Founder of Ethinos Digital.

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