In a move that’s going to excite advertisers and annoy a whole bunch of users, Facebook is going ahead with plans to show everyone ads in Facebook Messenger. After testing the ad system with select users in Australia and Thailand, the social giant is ready to go global it announced on Tuesday.
Which means business owners around the world can soon to tap into Messenger’s 1.2 billion users by paying up for ads. And Facebook really needs to make this work after admitting it’s reached the limit of how many ads it can show on the News Feed.
Ads are coming to Messenger and they’re huge
There’s not much chance of missing these things once they roll out worldwide. Ads in Messenger won’t show up inside conversations as some former tests have trialled. Instead, they’ll be cropping up on the Messenger “homepage” where users’ list of conversations is displayed.
Look at the size of those things! They’re certainly not designed to blend in with the existing UI, but this may not be a bad thing. Designing ads to look like conversations has been tried before and there’s nothing more annoying for users than accidentally clicking on an ad. These things certainly stand out and, above all, there’s plenty of space to work with in terms of getting a message across.
The obvious trade-off with this is they interrupt the user experience more, but we’ll have to see how much of a problem with causes (if any) over time.
Will the ads actually work?
Facebook clearly seems to think the tests in Australia and Thailand warrant expanding Messenger ads globally. It will be interesting to see how this pans out because there’s not much in the way of targeting with these ads – unless Facebook has some surprises in store for us.
Little (or no targeting) obviously means little relevance and this is always a priority for advertisers. You also have to question the user intent people have when they open up the app. They’re not filling idle time by scrolling through their News Feed here; they’re looking to send or answer messages to their friends. This is an entirely different kind of intrusion on the user experience.
From Facebook’s perspective, it really needs these ads (or something else) to work out – and quickly. So far the network has failed to monetise its messaging app and reverting back to ads is something of an unwanted backup plan. The whole Messenger bot thing isn’t panning out as Facebook expected it to and something else needs to step up to the plate.