Techcrunch reported recently that Facebook will soon implement ads within its Messenger app, according to a leaked document which Facebook sent to its biggest advertisers. Specifically, brands will be able to send ads to people who have previously initiated Messenger conversations with them. To that end, the leaked document suggests that organizations somehow get their consumers to begin Messenger conversations with them now; apparently after ads launch, older conversations between brands and people will be grandfathered in.
This is the latest in a string of updates intended to encourage adoption of Messenger by businesses; "Send Message" buttons on brand pages and integration with third-party message-management tools are other notable examples.
But how will users respond to this new development? At first blush, it's hard to imagine positive sentiment. People are used to getting messages only from their friends. Imagine brands suddenly starting to text you and you may get an accurate idea of the shift at hand. But perhaps that's the incorrect analogy: What if ads were opt-in and they did useful things like notify frequent customers of flash sales? People already sign up for mass emails for this purpose, and get smartphone notifications about the emails in much the same way as Messenger notifications. Will this new use of the medium be viewed as an opportunity or an annoyance? Let's take a totally unscientific sampling of Twitter sentiment:
@TechCrunch oh please no
— Judd Tolosa (@malcomjudd) February 18, 2016
@verge fantastic news. I was just thinking, I need ads when messaging my friends. Well done
— Astro (@Astrodonn) February 18, 2016
There doesn't seem to be much love for the idea at the moment. Facebook needs to be mindful that it's not the only game in town when it comes to messaging and be careful about how ads are implemented, or they may see users leaving in droves for alternatives.
For more of the latest on Facebook Messenger and other apps like it, check out our "Messaging Apps to Watch" panel at the PR News Social Media Summit in Huntington Beach, California, this Friday, February 26.
Follow Ian: @ianwright0101