Business Insider Edition

Facebook has cancelled efforts to put ads in WhatsApp, more than a year after its founders resigned in protest of the effort

Bani Sapra , Business Insider US
 Jan 17, 2020, 08:23 AM
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
  • Facebook will reportedly retreat from its efforts to include advertisements in WhatsApp's messaging service, the Wall Street Journal's Jeff Horowitz and Kirsten Grind reported on Thursday.
  • The decision to disband a team dedicated to implementing ads on WhatsApp is a surprising turnaround in Facebook's efforts to monetise one of its most popular services.
  • A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that WhatsApp was currently prioritising building features for businesses and pushing its payment services in other countries. Ads will remain a long-term opportunity for the company, the spokesperson said.
  • The move comes more than a year after WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left the company, after clashing with Facebook executives over the effort to monetise the app.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Facebook is shelving plans to include advertisements in its WhatsApp messaging service, according to a new report.

The company recently disbanded a team that explored the best ways of integrating ads onto WhatsApp, the Wall Street Journal's Jeff Horowitz and Kirsten Grind reported on Thursday.

The move is a surprising about face in Facebook's efforts to monetise its various products, particularly one of its most popular services. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 (around R316 billion today), and has since been searching for ways to monetise the company's 1.5 billion userbase.

Facebook had previously said that WhatsApp would begin placing ads in the Status section of the app, beginning in 2020. The advertisement giant even teased what the new WhatsApp ads would look like at a Facebook Marketing Summit.

But now, WhatsApp will focus on building features that let businesses communicate with customers in the app, as well as providing payments services to other countries, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider. Ads will remain a long-term opportunity but will not be subject to a specific timeline, the spokesperson said.

The tech giant's decision to shelve its WhatsApp ads plans comes more than 18 months after WhatsApp cofounders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left the company, along with a slew of other company executives. The two cofounders had been vocal about their opposition to advertisements long before Facebook had expressed an interest in buying the app, calling ads "the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought," in a 2012 blog post.

Facebook's push to bring ads to the app had caused its co-founders to clash with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. In a later interview with Forbes, Acton revealed that he had resigned from the company in protest of its efforts to sell ads on WhatsApp.

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