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Facebook says all advertisers can soon buy ads inside Messenger

You may start to see these ads before the month is over.

Two heavily tattooed Thai men sit in the back of a truck, each looking at his phone. David Longstreath / Getty Images

Facebook is expanding the list of marketers that can buy ads inside Messenger, the company’s standalone messaging app.


Facebook first started putting ads inside users’ Messenger inboxes back in January. That was just a test, though, and was limited to a small batch of users in Australia and Thailand, so there’s a good chance you didn’t actually see them.

Now Facebook says that any advertiser in the world can soon buy ads in Messenger, and some users (though not all) will start to see them in the app’s inbox in the coming weeks.

Messenger ads look similar to the kinds of direct-response ads that users already see in News Feed. They also use the same targeting — which means the company does not use people’s private messages to target them with advertising, said Ted Helwick, a Facebook product manager who works on Messenger ads.

Still, a person’s private messaging inbox can feel more intimate than a feed full of news articles or posts from celebrities. When Facebook first started testing News Feed ads in January, they acknowledged that this potential invasion of privacy was a concern.

“Originally, people were also not very big believers in ads in News Feed, because that felt very private, too,” Stan Chudnovsky, Messenger’s head of product, told Recode at the time. “We are worried about [that], but we are also testing things even when we are worried about them.”

The tests went well enough that Facebook is apparently ready to bring these ads mainstream. Last month, Chudnovsky and Messenger boss David Marcus were both at the Cannes Lions advertising conference in France to educate advertisers about the in-app ads.

Part of Facebook’s motivation is that the company is running out of places to put ads in its flagship Facebook app, so it’s looking for alternative ad inventory to keep up its steady growth. Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly users worldwide, so putting ads inside the app has potential to provide some legitimate revenue.

Facebook will roll out the ad buying option for Messenger to all advertisers over the next month, and it will start delivering those ads to users “later in the month,” according to a blog post.

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