Facebook has been approaching maxing out its ad slots usage in your newsfeed for some time. In July of last year, Facebook CFO David Wehner anticipated that ad load would be steadily increasing for the coming year. But there was only so much space that Facebook could fill your newsfeed up with ads. So, the question was posed of how they could continue to increase revenue from advertising.
In early 2015, research showed that usage of messaging apps was higher than the usage of the top four social networks. In fact, it showed that over one billion people use Facebook Messenger. Therefore, it is no surprise that Facebook decided to finally utilize this platform as a way to continue to increase revenue by further expanding its ad load out of your newsfeed and into your messenger app.
How to use Messenger Ads
There are two kinds of Messenger ads; destination and placement or sponsored ads. Destination ads appear in the newsfeed like a normal Facebook ad but send traffic to a conversation in Messenger with a specialist or a bot when clicked, rather than a URL. Destination ads can be good for use with both cold traffic and retargeting. With users who have not engaged the page previously, Destination ads can be used to raise awareness and start a conversation, quite literally, with a potential customer.
Messenger ads can also be utilized for retargeting in a way you might expect. If a user visits the web page but does not make a sale they will then see a Destination ad in their newsfeed asking if they have any questions, for example, and directing them to speak to a representative by clicking the ad.
The other type of Messenger ad is the Sponsored ad. These can only be received by customers who have initiated a conversation previously by sending messages to the brand’s page in the past. When a user receives a sponsored Messenger ad it appears just like a message from a friend in the Messenger app only coming from the brand page.
Certain services can be used to help businesses utilize Facebook Messenger ads. The most popular of which is ManyChat, that allow business’ to easily set up their own messenger bot but also to set up subscriber lists and broadcast sponsored messages through the Messenger app.
Will Messenger Ads ruin Messenger
The nature of the Messenger ad does cause some concern among both consumers and marketers for the potential of turning users’ Messenger apps into spam inboxes. Up until now, when you received a message on Facebook Messenger you could count on it being from an acquaintance that you knew. Now there is the potential for brands to directly have conversations with customers. Adding to that, there is the potential for the marketing intention to become misleading or misunderstood on the part of the potential customer or unknowing recipient of a sponsored ad. And further still, it is now easier than ever for businesses to set up chat bots to not only converse but reach out to potential customers. With sponsored messages in mind, it begs the question as to how much of this kind of marketing outreach can Messenger users expect to start receiving.
This is something that Facebook is confident it will take seriously and be sure to actively keep limited. David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Product for Messenger assured TechCrunch in this article that they were “paranoid” and that the Messenger ads “will definitely be limited.” This reassurance came in April of last year before Messenger was released and since then we have learned that sponsored messages can only be received by users who have sent messages to the brand’s page. Nevertheless, the potential for spam remains.
No doubt, the internet has opened many new and unexpected opportunities, both good and bad, for social interaction and monetary gain. As Facebook continues to hold its position firmly at the top as the most popular social media platform, they continue to expand outward in their potential for what they can do for users and how they can profit from doing it. With Messenger ads, businesses will be able to utilize this new marketing platform to their advantage. Now perhaps the question remains whether users will be able to tolerate it. If Facebook can be as careful and aggressive as they claim they will be in controlling the abuse of Messenger ads, it will be beneficial for everybody.