Facebook to bring home screen ads beta to Messenger worldwide

– Facebook Messenger will start to extend its home screen ads beta worldwide in the weeks ahead, Messenger head of product Stan Chudnovsky announced Tuesday, July 11, VentureBeat reports.

The home screen on Messenger acts as an inbox for your most recent conversations with friends, automated bots, or brands.

Chudnovsky spoke today with VentureBeat CEO Matt Marshall before a crowd of hundreds at MB 2017, a two-day gathering of startups and tech giants working with AI and bots that’s being held July 11-12 at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Testing of Messenger home screen ads began in January in Australia and Thailand. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook Messenger commands one of the largest captive audiences on the planet.

While other mega chat apps with hundreds of millions of users — like WeChat — have focused on facilitating commerce, Chudnovsky says the move to home screen ads brings Facebook Messenger closer to its true business model: advertising.

“[Advertising is] not necessarily everything, but it’s definitely how we’re going to be making money right now. And going forward, there are some other business models we are exploring as well, but they’re all around ads one way or another,” Chudnovsky told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

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Existing Messenger ads include sponsored messages and ads in Facebook News Feeds that redirect to Messenger conversations with a bot or human. Sponsored messages can only be sent to users a company has already had a conversation with.

Ads in the Home tab will follow an auction-based model and will feature the same sort of user-targeting capabilities found on Facebook or Instagram, Chudnovsky said.