We have been expecting ads on Facebook Messenger for some time now. Almost a year ago, we reported that ads were coming to the platform. And now, the time has come. Facebook is starting to test ads on Messenger. Big ones.
In a recent blog post announcing “a very small test in Australia and Thailand,” Product Manager Eddie Zhang said that some businesses in these markets will now have the opportunity to have their ads appear below recent conversations on the Messenger home screen,
similar to how [Facebook surfaces] birthday notifications or where we let you know if a friend is currently active on Messenger.
No user will see an ad in a Messenger conversation, without clicking on an “ad experience” on the home screen, or opening a conversation with a brand on the platform. So, the ads that are being tested, do not start appearing in conversations. This is good news. But, while many advertisers will be excited about the opportunity to have ads in Messenger, this is not something we can guarantee for users. Will they appreciate ads that take up space on their Messenger screens? This remains to be seen.
Facebook currently offers sponsored messages and ads that take users directly to Messenger conversations with brands, and these have shown that users “are interested in hearing from and interacting with business and brands” on the platform. The existing ads don’t take up useful “real estate,” or affect the Messenger experience for users.
Zhang did explain that the current test is for a small group of people in Australia and Thailand, and users will still have full control over their Messenger experience, choosing to hide or report ads as usual. Also, as is the case with Messenger bots, advertisers
will still not be able to message users directly unless a person starts the interaction and people will not see a message from a business that they didn’t initiate.
Facebook is unlikely to expand the new Messenger ads, until it is sure that they will offer users and advertisers the best possible experience. But the company knows that it is almost out of ad space, so it will have to find the right recipe to keep both advertisers and users happy.