#Service #WhatsApp – WhatsApp plans to let businesses on to its service before the end of the year : WhatsApp will finally take a step to becoming a platform after the Facebook-owned company revealed it will begin to integrate businesses services into its app before the end of this year.
The company first announced plans to connect its userbase – which stands at more than one billion – with businesses back in January, and it today it updated its terms of service in preparation for testing with selected users “in the months ahead.”
What kind of dialogue will WhatsApp facilitate between users and businesses?
The aim is to keep things useful, such as flight notifications, receipts or delivery tracking, although marketing messages are mentioned in the newest version of the company’s T&Cs:
We will explore ways for you and businesses to communicate with each other using WhatsApp, such as through order, transaction, and appointment information, delivery and shipping notifications, product and service updates, and marketing.
For example, you may receive flight status information for upcoming travel, a receipt for something you purchased, or a notification when a delivery will be made.
Messages you may receive containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you. We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make.
The move is a very notable one given that WhatsApp has always taken a very aggressive ‘no spam’ approach to its business. “Marketing” messages and “an offer for something that might interest you” could fall into the category of spam if not done right, context is key here.
Back in 2012, CEO and co-founder Jan Koum threw shade a number of rival messaging companies which he claimed were “selling” ads to their users:
No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t).
We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement. Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.
At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.
The irony here is that many of those in Koum’s firing line – WeChat, Line, and Kakao – weren’t pushing ads. They opted to make money by connecting businesses with users via “official accounts” that companies could pay to rent and promote. As we wrote before, the ability to reach users directly is a potentially a very powerful new tool – and it remains opt-in for uses.