Facebook, one of the dominant forces in social networking, will soon be unrolling a new advertising tactic as it searches for new sources of revenue. Starting soon, Facebook will be running ads in its popular Messenger app.

What Are the Details?

Tests for the Messenger app ads will begin in Thailand and Australia. Users of the Messenger service will be able to hide ads or leave them visible, or ads can be reported if users find them offensive or irrelevant.

Facebook has been careful to ensure that the advertisements will not interfere with its users conversations. In fact, Messenger app users will only be able to see the advertisements if they start a conversation with a brand or who click on an ad experience in the home screen of the app. All ads will appear beneath the most recent conversations.

Why is Facebook Changing Its Approach?

Facebook has made the decision to reduce its ad load in the Facebook News Feed. It’s anticipated that Messenger app advertisements will help fill this gap.

Advertising in the Facebook News Feed has been problematic for Facebook, as many agencies have been hesitant to use the advertising function. Problems with the News Feed ads include:

  • Numbers reporting. Facebook reports primarily internal numbers measuring viewability, average video viewing time and other important statistics. This internal reporting makes agencies uncomfortable, because self-moderation can lead to conflicts of interest.
  • Lack of control. Facebook does not allow companies to choose the topics where their ads will run. Instead, Facebook targets ads based on the interests of the users. Many marketing and advertising agencies are uncomfortable with the idea that their advertisements will run next to unfavorable news content.
  • Low watch times. The watch times for the videos on the News Feed is low, but Facebook counts any video that is seen for three seconds or more, even if the audio has been disabled.

In addition to these issues, Facebook has not been consistent with its ad products in general. With each incarnation of advertising options, agencies have had to pay more money to get the same results.

The shift to advertisements in Messenger is meant to open up new sources of revenue for Facebook. Companies that advertise with Facebook should pay close attention to the changes with the Messenger app to determine whether or not this new advertising option is right for them.

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