Facebook Pages Can Now Add Click-to-WhatsApp Buttons to Their Boosted Organic Posts

The feature is not available via Ads Manager or the Marketing API

More than 1 million Facebook pages currently include WhatsApp numbers in their posts. WhatsApp

The monetization of WhatsApp by parent company Facebook took another step forward: Advertisers on Facebook can now include a button on their Facebook boosted organic posts that enables users to contact them via the messaging application.

Facebook introduced click-to-Messenger Facebook ads in November 2016 as part of its launch of version 1.3 of its Messenger Platform, and click-to-Messenger ads debuted on Instagram in May. However, unlike Messenger, the click-to-WhatsApp option is only available at launch to pages boosting organic posts, and not via Ads Manager or Facebook’s Marketing API.

City Index senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta applauded the move by Facebook, telling Adweek that it helps justify the social network’s $19 billion investment in the messaging app, despite WhatsApp’s well-known resistance to advertising. “This is a win-win for businesses and users, as well,” she said. “It capitalizes on a movement that is already in play—many people already use WhatsApp to contact businesses, so the click-to-WhatsApp ads will just make this easier.”

Experts say that combining Facebook and WhatsApp eases the process of launching communications between people and brands, eliminating several unnecessary steps. ScribbleChat CEO Eloise Bune praised the move from a user perspective. “How many times have you seen an ad for a brand you like and it takes you to their website, when many would much rather act on the ad by texting or speaking with a person?” she asked. “Overall, the user experience and purchase is expedited, making it a win not only for the customer, but also for the brand.”

Maggie Mesa, vice president of mobile business development at programmatic advertising ad exchange OpenX, agreed, telling Adweek: “The power of mobile lies in its ability to drive deeper, more relevant connections between brands and consumers regardless of screen or geography. Facebook’s new click-to-WhatsApp ad units speak to the influence of mobile in engaging audiences and provide a valuable use case for how those audiences can be leveraged across platforms. The new ad format allows advertisers to leverage the robust data set available through Facebook to connect with consumers in the most relevant context. In practice, this could turn a passive scroll through a user’s Facebook News Feed into a WhatsApp message exchange between the user and a customer-service representative.”

The social network said more than 1 million Facebook pages currently include WhatsApp numbers in their posts, and Facebook product marketing manager Pancham Gajjar told Adweek, “Many people already use WhatsApp to communicate with small businesses. It’s a fast, convenient way to stay in touch. By adding a click-to-WhatsApp button to Facebook ads, businesses can now make it even easier for people to learn about their products, set up an appointment or use their service.”

Jordi Torras, CEO of chatbot provider Inbenta, sees an opportunity for bots.

“Soon Facebook will include ad units that contain buttons to chatbots, which will be available through WhatsApp, Facebook and many other messaging systems,” he explained. “We can expect these bots to be sensitive to not only who is imitating the chat conversation, but also their interests and the reasons why Facebook chose a particular ad to be shown. As matter of fact, we will soon see intelligent chatbots taking the role of ‘landing bots,’ as a contraposition to what has been classically called landing pages. We will start using concepts like ‘conversion rates of landing bots’ that will be available on a variety of channels.”

How it works:

Starting this week, businesses that have WhatsApp numbers can add ‘send message’ buttons with the WhatsApp logo to their Facebook ads, and those ads will only be delivered to Facebook users who have WhatsApp installed on their phones.

People must add businesses’ WhatsApp numbers to their contacts to initiate conversations.

Once they do so, the messaging app opens with a default message expressing interest, which can be edited by users before being sent. An image of the ad appears within the WhatsApp conversation to remind people which ad they are responding to.

Facebook said it will measure the number of clicks to WhatsApp from each boosted organic post in order to allow advertisers to gauge their results.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.