Facebook is pivoting away from its initial plan to sell ads on the messaging app, WhatsApp. Reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has disbanded the team in charge of ad integration. In addition to Facebook disbanding the ad team, any and all code related to advertisements has been removed from the core app.
Facebook has always mulled over the monetization of WhatsApp. Since 2016, WhatsApp has remained a free messaging solution for users worldwide. Facebook dropped the 99 cents annual fee and instead opted to begin work on using user data for targeted ad space.
This plan to integrate ads was in motion for quite some time, and eventually became one of the reasons Jan Koum, one of WhatsApp’s co-founders, left the company.
There is, however, a caveat to Facebook’s plan. While the company has shelved its plan to run ads on the core app, Facebook is still planning to integrate advertisements within the Status feature of the app. Status is a supplemental experience on WhatsApp that is most akin to Instagram and Facebook Stories.
In the report, Facebook states: “Those efforts are now on ice. The company plans at some point to introduce ads to Status.” This integration does not seem immediate, so for the time being WhatsApp will remain an ad-free experience.