As with many web-based companies, Facebook makes the vast majority of its revenue through ads, so it should come as no surprise that the company are keen to evolve and improve their advert delivery strategies. From 2014, Facebook split messaging into a completely separate app, so you could no longer send and receive messages within the main Facebook app. As a result, many people were disgruntled by this change because it meant having two apps installed on their smartphone. I, on the other hand, didn’t mind at all because I only ever used the Facebook platform for messaging, so I very quickly deleted the Facebook app altogether.
One of the issues Facebook found with the separate Messenger app is that there were no ads, which made it non-profitable for users who deleted the main Facebook app (such as me). The obvious solution to this issue is to introduce ads into the Messenger app. This change was rumoured months ago, but it’s now been made official and I’m now seeing it for myself on my own smartphone.
Are the adverts intrusive?
I’m sure this is the big question on your mind. Many apps implement ads as persistent banners at the bottom of the screen or the occasional full-screen ad. You’ll be glad to hear that Facebook haven’t taken this route, instead the ads are very discrete and they only appear in the list of conversations (aka the home screen). For now, there are no ads on the main chat screen, which is good because that’s where you spend the majority of your time in the app.
In my opinion, the ads are not intrusive at all. They are relatively large, taking up the equivalent space of four conversations, but you will likely see them infrequently. In the past week of using Messenger, I have only seen ads appearing about half the time, though this could change (and it probably will). Additionally, the ads appear between my fifth and sixth most recent conversations, meaning they aren’t too obvious at first sight. You probably won't see the whole ad unless you scroll down. If you don’t like a particular ad, there is a ‘hide’ button, but this isn’t a long-term solution if you don’t want to see ads at all.
Are the ads relevant?
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, What is End-To-End Encryption?, Facebook messenger does not feature end-to-end encryption, which means Facebook are able to read and process every message you send through their service. Combined with this and your existing Facebook profile, Facebook are able to target advertising with great precision. In my case, I have seen ads specific to my region, but I’m expecting there to be more ad personalisation as time progresses since advertisers will typically pay Facebook more for better-targeted ads.
Will Facebook Messenger lose users?
On paper, Messenger has the same features as most other messaging apps, but the major difference is the user base. Facebook Messenger connects with your existing Facebook account (or your mobile number if you don’t have Facebook), which means it’s possibly the most widely spread messaging platform. Certainly, for me, I find that the vast majority of my friends use Facebook Messenger, and it’s very simple to add someone via their name and mutual friends rather than exchanging details.
Given that many other messaging platforms are ad-free, why would people continue to use Facebook Messenger? Ultimately, I don’t think ads will hurt Facebook Messenger’s popularity, mostly because the ease of connecting with people outweighs the disadvantage of non-intrusive ads. If you can move all your hundreds of Facebook friends to an alternative platform, then go ahead and ditch Messenger, but for everyone else, deleting Messenger is simply not a practical option.
Do you use Facebook Messenger? Have you started seeing ads yet? Are ads a deal-breaker for you? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Did you enjoy reading today’s blog? If you did, why not check out some of my others, click the links below: