Meta Launches AI-Driven Ad Targeting for WhatsApp

Meta Platforms has unveiled its first AI-driven ad targeting program for businesses on WhatsApp, aiming to generate revenue from the widely-used chat service.
WhatsApp for businessMeta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the new tools via a video presentation on Thursday at a conference in Brazil.

WhatsApp, according to news reports, has 2.7 billion active users worldwide. Several customers sent — over 100 billion messages and 100 million voice calls daily – on the free WhatsApp platform. India has the highest number of active WhatsApp users in the world, with an estimated 535.8 million monthly active users.

This development signifies a major shift for WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging platform known for its strong privacy stance. Unlike Meta’s other apps like Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp has previously avoided targeted advertising, Reuters news report said.

Over the years, Meta has been integrating commerce and payment features into WhatsApp, such as business messaging tools for customer service and marketing. These tools allowed businesses to send messages to users who had opted in, but the new AI capabilities will now enable more precise targeting. By analyzing user behavior on Facebook and Instagram, the AI will help businesses send messages to customers most likely to engage, provided they use the same opted-in phone number across accounts.

Guilherme Horn, WhatsApp’s head of strategic markets, highlighted the significance of the AI tools for businesses. “This is very important for business because they are paying for those messages,” Horn told Reuters, emphasizing the potential for optimized ad delivery.

Meta Platforms has been striving to monetize WhatsApp, its largest app by daily users. Despite its popularity and the $22 billion acquisition price in 2014, WhatsApp has contributed minimally to Meta’s overall revenue.

In addition to the ad targeting program, Meta introduced a new AI chatbot designed to handle business inquiries directly within the chat. This initiative aligns with Zuckerberg’s vision to encourage businesses to adopt automated communication tools. The chatbot will assist users with common tasks such as finding catalogs or checking business hours, similar to existing AI-powered customer service platforms.

Meta also announced the integration of Brazil’s instant digital payment method, PIX, into WhatsApp’s payment tool in the country, enhancing its financial services offerings.

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