- Facebook is expanding its beta test of ads in Messenger worldwide after a limited run in Australia and Thailand, according to a company news post.
- The Messenger ads appear in users' home tab within the app, and marketers can create them via Ads Manager and Power Editor. The ads are an additional placement option for Facebook advertising, and marketers will be able to include Messenger ads in Traffic and Conversion objective campaigns with more options such as a soon-to-be-released App Installs objective.
- The format helped Australian department store David Jones reach customers where they were already active and engaged, and helped in placement optimization across other Facebook ad properties including Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network, Michiel Tops, GM of marketing and communications at the retailer, said in the post.
Even as Messenger has grown to be incredibly popular — it hit 1.2 billion monthly users in April, per TechCrunch — Facebook's business strategy with the app has weathered some challenges. Initially, Messenger appeared to be intended to foster more mobile payments and e-commerce for the social giant, according to Recode, but that initiative has been a bit of a non-starter. Chatbots were another early focus for Messenger, tying neatly into those e-commerce ambitions, but have seen little traction despite numbering in the tens of thousands, leading Messenger to adjust its platform to put a greater emphasis on chatbot discoverability and convenience.
Globally rolling out more traditional digital ads for Messenger is perhaps a sort of acknowledgment that some of its initial ambitions and monetization strategies haven't really played out as expected, with Facebook now returning to an old well. The company is also facing down declining ad growth on its core News Feed offering; expanding ad offerings on Messenger will likely open a significant revenue stream given the platform's massive monthly user base.
"This softness is not directly attributable to FB," Jim Fosina, founder and CEO of Fosina Marketing Group, wrote in an emailed statement to Marketing Dive. "Advertisers may need to sharpen their messaging in order to engage the FB user population [...] at a higher level."
Facebook has previously leveraged News Feed ads to link directly to Messenger, helping brands re-engage users through sponsored messages. Marketers could also reach Messenger users with promotional messages within a 24-hour window after users engaged with a branded chatbot. The time limit was put in place to prevent brands from inundating or spamming users.