WhatsApp may see ads on the Channels and Status spaces soon


Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s head, has confirmed that the platform is working on showing ads to its users. Cathcart said this some weeks after he denied to the Financial Times that the platform was planning to host ads.

In an interview with a publication in Brazil, Cathcart reassured users that they wouldn’t see ads in their primary inbox. However, advertisements and promotions may appear on places like the Status page and Channels.

According to Cathcart, the company does not think placing ads in the inbox is suitable, saying that when people open their inbox, “they don’t want to see advertising.” He added that other places in the messaging service could be ready for ads.

The inbox may be spared

Cathcart said that he qualified his statement because there could be ads in other places. Channels, for instance, might charge people to subscribe, and others might be accessible only to paying exclusive members, or the owners might pay to promote the channel.

However, he insisted that there won’t be ads in users’ inboxes. WhatsApp parent Meta first discussed adding ads to the Status page in 2018.

However, the plans were scrapped by 2020, likely because the company realized it would not be popular with users.

No official confirmation yet

Back then, even WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton was not on board with the move to populate the app with ads. Acton said he sold his users’ privacy “to a larger benefit,” adding that he made a “choice and a compromise” and lives with that daily.

Cathcart has yet to confirm when the ads will appear on the platform or how the platform will ensure they do not grate on users.

It is also unknown what kind of data the platform will leverage to feed targeted ads at users, given that the chats are end-to-end encrypted.

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