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WhatsApp denies report platform is exploring ads

WhatsApp’s top head on Friday denied a Financial Times report that said the Meta Platforms-owned messaging platform was exploring advertisements as it sought to boost revenue.

The app is seen by some analysts as an untapped growth opportunity, even years after Meta purchased the platform for $19 billion in 2014 in its biggest deal so far.

The FT report said teams at Meta were discussing whether to show ads in lists of conversations with contacts on the WhatsApp chat screen, but no final decisions had been made.

Meta was also deliberating it should charge a subscription fee to use the app ad-free, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.

“This @FT story is false. We aren’t doing this,” WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

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WhatsApp has more than 2 billion monthly active users, according to financial data firm Visible Alpha, but most of its revenue comes from its platform for small and medium-sized businesses that is used by about 200 million users every month.

Meta does not provide WhatsApp’s revenue, but Visible Alpha estimates the messaging service generated $1.06 billion in sales last quarter, which represents a mere 3% of the social media company’s total revenue.

Zuckerberg said last year WhatsApp and Messenger would drive the company’s next wave of sales growth, with business messaging “probably going to be the next major pillar” of Meta.

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Any move to include ads on WhatsApp could prove to be unpopular with users.

“Rolling out advertising on the messaging app could be a money maker but it would feel obtrusive and clunky,” said AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson.

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“The speed at which the story has been refuted does suggest that Meta is aware how unpopular the move would be … it does look like a non-starter, for now,” Hewson added.

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