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Facebook May Launch Risky Messenger Ad Program

By Quinten Plummer
Feb 22, 2016 11:36 AM PT

Facebook has been preparing to push personalized ads through its Messenger app, according to a report last week in TechCrunch.

Facebook May Launch Risky Messenger Ad Program

The company will allow brands to send their own marketing materials through the popular chat app, suggests a leaked document apparently intended for Facebook's advertising partners.

The changes could go into effect during the second quarter of the year.

It's not clear what the ads would look like. Companies might be able to use the system to deliver video and graphical content that would detail their offerings to consumers. They also could use reminders to prompt purchases, announce new products and services, send notifications of flash sales, and provide links to sale items.

Down to Business

Instead of sending a stream of ads after people in Messenger, Facebook will leave the matter between users and brands. Brands will have the ability to send ads only to users who have initiated conversations with them, a claim that's backed up by the launch of a URL: fb.com/msg/.

Businesses would tag their Facebook usernames to that end of that URL, and that would serve as a link to chats between companies and customers. It's an expansion of Facebook's efforts to facilitate customer service exchanges on its networks, doing so in a private chat rather than on a public page.

That just might be a lucrative way for Facebook to monetize Messenger, according to Karma Martell, president of KarmaCom.

"If Facebook can insert itself as a bridge to better and faster customer service, they will stand to make a fortune," she told the E-Commerce Times.

"They could have hit on a value add-to-customer ad sales holy grail. It could be an amazing brand loyalty and brand-building tool if it is beta tested with a short list of brands and power users, tweaked and then rolled out," Martell said.

Ad Avoidance

Standing in the way of the plan's success is a phenomenon that has curtailed the profits of websites: ad blockers and advertising avoidance in general, according to Jennifer M. Grygiel, assistant professor of communications/social media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

"At this point, most people will have had several bad experiences with advertising in social networks," she told the E-Commerce Times. "Facebook needs to be conscious of this and get it right out of the gate. Otherwise, there will be a lot of backlash from users."


Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.


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