Facebook has begun allowing businesses to send users adverts on Messenger, but only if those users have previously made contact with the brand.
Part of Facebook’s iteration of its Messenger chat service as a platform, announced at Web Summit in Lisbon, the change will mean that if a user ever contacts a brand that will open the door to that brand then sending them adverts through the instant messaging app.
“Sponsored messages” as Facebook calls them provides another revenue opportunity for Facebook, targeting users in a place where they are less likely to automatically screen out adverts.
Facebook has been putting a big effort into growing Messenger as a bot platform this year. Now there are 34,000 of these bots in existence, built to automatically feed you news and entertainment, let you shop, and more — expanding Messenger’s use beyond simple chats with friends. And today, that strategy is getting a significant boost: Facebook says it will now let developers track bots on its free analytics platform, alongside ads and apps. At the same time, Facebook is also opening up its developer program, FbStart, to bot developers.
Viber, the messaging app with 800 million users owned by Japan’s Rakuten, is expanding its platform as it seeks to compete against the likes of Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp not just for audience — but revenues. Today, Viber is launching Public Accounts, a new account format for businesses and brands who want to communicate with Viber users for marketing, customer service — or a bit of both, without a user needing to add that account as a contact first.
The team of three AI PhDs that founded the Kitt.ai believes that its ChatFlow framework will make it easier for developers to build useful chatbots that can work on multiple platforms and easily hold multi-turn conversations. Seattle-based Kitt.ai started with a focus on Amazon’s Alexa platform (and received funding from the Alexa Fund) and participated in Paul Allen’s AI2 incubator program.
Focusing on what you know best often makes the most sense. In a nutshell, that’s the current business strategy of Line, the popular Japanese messaging platform. Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa explains his decision to focus on four Asian markets: Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Idezawa is betting on the law of big numbers: Become the top messaging app in a particular market and organic growth follows. He has said Line will launch a Slack-like version for the workplace early next year. He’s also looking to video and other services to lengthen session duration and increase revenues. And above all, he’s investing in AI and chatbots to prepare for an eventual global marketplace dominated by a small number of messaging platforms.