BlackBerry Testing Sponsored Invites, Ads in BBM


BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has made the big leap to iPhone and Android over the past several months, and most reactions to the transition have been positive. Many people have started to wonder what’s next for the popular messaging app.

According to a post from BlackBerry’s Inside blog the Waterloo-based company will be focusing strongly on BBM Channel and its content. Multiple sources who have access to the latest BetaZone update for BBM have noticed that sponsored posts and ads will be a big part of the app’s future.

Jeff Gadway, head of product and brand marketing for BBM, reassures that BBM chats will remain the way they are, he says:

First, let me be clear. We will not be inserting sponsored content of any kind in to BBM chats with your friends, family and colleagues. We understand that keeping the BBM chat experience you know and love free of this type of content is important to you.

Instead of targeting BBM chats, the company will be allowing users and businesses to promote themselves using BBM Channels. The blog post outlines three different ways the company intends to allow users to promote BBM Channel content within BBM.

First, BBM Channel owners will be able to secure space (likely some cost will be associated to this) on the Featured Channels tab, which is intended to allow users to promote their channel.

The company will also offer sponsored invites, which will allow channel owners to invite BBM users to join their channel. The move is intended to help owners grow their channels.

By defining certain characteristics like age, location and interests, channel owners can ‘invite’ select BBM users to join their channel. These invites will appear in the invites tab of BBM, clearly marked as sponsored invites.

Users who receive invites will have complete control to accept the invite or decline it. Lastly BBM will include sponsored posts, which will allow BBM channel owners to place sponsored posts within your ‘Updates’ tab. The posts will appear alongside any updates from your BBM contacts. In the blog post, the company notes that the promoted posts will be clearly labeled.

Gadway says that BlackBerry is putting user privacy first. He writes:

As we introduce new ways to help connect BBM Channels users with channel owners, protecting user privacy remains a top focus. We know that privacy and control are two of the reasons you love and choose BBM. We use the information you provide when you first open BBM Channels (age, location, gender) to help personalize your BBM Channels experience. At no time is personally identifiable information about any BBM Channel user viewable by any channel owners or advertisers.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of the proposed changes and additions to BBM.

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