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WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart Says Company Could Show Ads, but Not in Main Inbox: Report


WhatsApp could show users ads in some parts of the app, according to the company’s top executive. In a recent interview with a Brazilian publication, WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart confirmed that the messaging platform will not display ads in the main inbox or in chats, but advertisements might be shown in two other sections of the app. The revelation comes two months after the company denied a report that claimed WhatsApp was planning to show users ads to monetise the service.

In an interview with Folha de S. Paulo (in Brazilian) Cathcart stated that WhatsApp would remain ad-free in the app’s inbox and inside chats. “The reason I qualified the answer is that there could be ads in other places —channels or statuses. For example, channels might charge people to subscribe, they might be exclusive to paid members, or the owners might want to promote the channel. But no, we won’t place ads in the Inbox,” the executive told the publication (translated from Brazilian).

There’s no word from the company on when ads will make their way to the Status or Channels sections on the app. The disclosure that WhatsApp could show users ads to users in specific parts of the app comes after Cathcart denied a report in September that the platform was planning to display advertisements in lists of conversations with contacts — the default view when a user opens the app.

This isn’t the first time that WhatsApp has reportedly explored the addition of advertisements to the popular chat application. In 2019, it was reported that WhatsApp was planning on showing ads to users via the Status feature that allows users to share images and videos in a similar as Instagram and Facebook stories. WhatsApp is currently monetised by offering business messaging features that allow companies to reach the app’s massive userbase — the Meta-owned messaging service has over 2 billion users.

A report in August 2020 stated that WhatsApp was planning on showing ads in the app by using phone numbers to match users’ Facebook and WhatsApp accounts and serve users targeted advertisements. At the time, it was reported that the company would display these ads once the planned unification of its three messaging platforms — WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger — was completed. 

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