SAN FRANCISCO: WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook that has taken an ad-free approach since its launch in 2009, is now being monetised with plans to show ads in its Status feature.

That is according to the Wall Street Journal, which spoke with company officials who explained that the ads in Status will be powered by Facebook’s advertising system, as happens with Instagram Stories already.

Similar to Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status, which is currently used by about 450 million of WhatsApp’s overall user base of around 1.5 billion, allows people to post text, photos and video that appear for 24 hours.

After claiming to have seen positive feedback from ads in Instagram Stories, the WhatsApp executives said its users would be able to opt into receiving messages from businesses.

In effect, the new ads will let users know they can text companies directly via WhatsApp for any customer service query – and, in return, WhatsApp will charge participating companies up to nine cents, depending on the country where they’re based.

Around 100 companies have been testing the feature, the Journal added, and these include Singapore Airlines and ride-hailing firm Uber, which has been using WhatsApp to answer drivers’ questions in Mexico, India and Brazil.

The development comes a week after Facebook announced second quarter results that disappointed investors and prompted a temporary $120bn loss in market capitalisation.

With WhatsApp’s owner seemingly reaching a limit in terms of user growth, it has been widely reported that it will seek other streams of revenue – and the latest plans for WhatsApp appear to form part of that strategy.

WhatsApp also used a company blog to reveal more detail about how its users can connect with businesses in the future.

There are three new ways, including a button to start a conversation, making it easier for businesses to send helpful information such as a boarding pass, and real-time support.

“With this approach, you will continue to have full control over the messages you receive,” the blog post said. “Businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and your chats don't get cluttered. In addition, messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and you can block any business with the tap of a button.”

Sourced from Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, WhatsApp; additional content by WARC staff