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WhatsApp boss talks about in-app ads and privacy in interview

Since Meta acquired WhatsApp, the app has become completely free. Despite offering some paid features, WhatsApp doesn’t require a purchase or subscription, nor does it offer paid features. It also has no ads – and although the company says it has no plans to place ads in chats, it has confirmed that users may see ads in some parts of the app in the future.

WhatsApp might show ads in the future

In an interview with the Brazilian publication Folha de S. Paulo, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart talked about the future of the app and how Meta makes money with WhatsApp. When asked about placing ads in the app, Cathcart emphasized that the company “will not place ads in the inbox or chats.”

“We don’t think that’s the right model. People, when they open their inbox, don’t want to see advertising,” he said. However, the executive doesn’t rule out the idea of WhatsApp showing ads in other parts of the app.

He mentioned that Public Channels and Status (the equivalent of Stories on WhatsApp) could eventually show advertisements. Even so, Cathcart did suggest other ways to monetize the app, such as charging people to join a channel – something Telegram already does.

One of WhatsApp’s biggest sources of revenue is the WhatsApp Business API, which offers special tools for small and large companies. It’s a $10 billion-a-year business, according to Cathcart. WhatsApp could increase its revenue without relying on ads by offering other paid services and taking a commission.

This isn’t the first time WhatsApp has considered showing ads to its users. Back in 2018, the platform tested showing ads while users were viewing Status. However, the idea was delayed due to internal fears about how users would react, particularly regarding privacy concerns.

More about WhatsApp

The Meta executive also said in the interview that the countries where WhatsApp is most popular are India, Indonesia, and Brazil. He highlighted the WhatsApp team’s commitment to privacy and revealed that the company has been exploring the idea of letting people create small private channels that can be used for internal communication in businesses and schools, for example.

In the full interview, Cathcart talks about WhatsApp’s influence on political campaigns and how the company has been investing in AI-based features. You can read the full interview here.

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