Josh Constine and Jon Russell of TechCrunch obtained a document sent by Facebook to an unnamed large Facebook advertiser, which indicated that starting sometime in the second quarter, businesses on the social network will be able to send ads as messages to Facebook users who had previously initiated chat threads with those businesses.
According to Constine and Russell, Facebook recommended that brands get a head start by engaging users in message threads now so that they will be able to send them ads when the feature is launched.
Facebook also confirmed the existence of a URL short link that allows users to instantly open chat threads with businesses. The link is now available for all pages, and users can access it via fb.com/msg, followed by the user name of the page. For example, a user who wanted to initiate a messaging thread with the SocialTimes Social Network News page could do so with the URL fb.com/msg/allfacebook.
According to the document obtained by TechCrunch, if businesses respond to 90 percent of messages within 24 hours over a one-week period, those URLs will become searchable on Facebook.
A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch:
We don’t comment on rumor or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high-quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring that people do not experience unwanted messages of any type.
This would seem to reinforce the idea that users will only receive messages from brands they have interacted with via Messenger, and will not suddenly be flooded with unsolicited messages.
The buildup to ads on Messenger has fit Facebook’s pattern of being cautious and selective with how it introduces ads within its products.
It started in December 2011, when the social network began testing a feature that allowed users to send private messages to pages.
Communications between businesses and users via Messenger really heated up with the introduction of Businesses on Messenger at F8 in March 2015, which created the groundwork for the types of interactions that currently occur.
In addition to Messenger Platform, we’ve also announced and previewed the first steps we’re taking to bring businesses on Messenger with the goal of enhancing how people and businesses communicate. Businesses on Messenger enables things like the following: During the checkout flow on a business’ site, a person can choose to start a conversation with a business; receive updates from that business on things like order confirmations and shipping status updates; and ask the business free-form questions about the order, receiving quick responses.
The next big moves were made in August 2015 with the introduction of messaging features for pages including a “Send Message” call-to-action button, the ability to reply to public comments with private messages and the displaying of “very responsive to messages” badges on pages to encourage page administrators to stay on top of and respond to incoming messages.
And in January, Constine reported that a select group of developers was granted access to a chat software-development kit, enabling them to build interactive experiences within Messenger, as well as to create bots to power options including shopping and booking travel.
Constine reported in January that Messenger users can send text messages directly to these bots, which automatically reply with information, images, location, pricing, buy buttons and other elements, adding that payments via Messenger was also incorporated into the SDK.
Readers: What are your thoughts on the impending introduction of ads within Facebook Messenger?