According to 99frims, WhatsApp has an estimated 300 million daily users, with another one million people registering daily.
To take advantage of these astronomical numbers, Facebook announced in 2018 that they would be running advertisements through WhatsApp statuses in the same vein as Instagram. This would have been the applications primary means of monetisation, seeing as it’s free to download and use. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014.
This news wasn’t received too kindly by the founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton and played a big factor in their decision to leave the company. In a blog post, they told the audience that running adverts “insults your intelligence.”
In an interview with Forbes, Acton said that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg “was in a rush to make money from the messaging service and undermine elements of its encryption technology.”
— The Verge (@verge) January 16, 2020
Now it seems as though Facebook is ditching the idea according to The Wall Street journal. As per the report, WhatsApp had gathered a dedicated team of engineers to build the codebase that would enable advertisements to run on the platform. That very same team has now been disbanded and their work has been “deleted from WhatsApp’s code” with the company realising that bringing ads to an encrypted service is a bit more challenging than originally thought.
It’s unclear if Facebook completely killing off the idea or just putting it “on ice” for the time being. However, with such a huge user base on WhatsApp, it would be crazy to imagine that Facebook wouldn’t try to capitalise on that market.