Facebook Holds Off on Bringing Ads to WhatsApp, Aside From Its Status Feature

The Wall Street Journal reported that a team working on the initiative was recently disbanded

WhatsApp said it will focus on building new features to help businesses - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of David Cohen

Facebook’s plans to monetize WhatsApp—the messaging application it acquired for $19 billion in February 2014—appear to be on hold, aside from a previously revealed initiative to include ads in Status, WhatsApp’s version of the popular Stories format on other platforms.

Jeff Horwitz and Kirsten Grind of The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Facebook was backing off its plans to bring ads to the rest of the app, adding that a team at WhatsApp that had been formed to determine the best way to integrate ads was recently disbanded, and its work was removed from the app’s code.

A spokesperson for WhatsApp said in an email, “Ads in Status remains a long-term opportunity for WhatsApp. We believe it is a great way for people to discover a business that’s important to them, although we do not have a more specific timeline we can provide. At the moment, the team is focused on building new features to help businesses achieve success, as well as providing payments in a number of countries. For example, late last year, WhatsApp launched catalogs to help businesses showcase their goods and services right within the app.”

Then-WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels referred to ads as a “primary monetization mode” early last year, but he left the company last March.

Disagreements over whether to include ads on WhatsApp were also widely reported as a major factor in the departures of co-founders Brian Acton in September 2017 and Jan Koum in April 2018.


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.