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Brace yourself… adverts are coming to WhatsApp

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If you’re anything like us, you’re never too far away from your phone. Chances are you’re reading this on yours right now, and it’s also highly likely that you’ve got WhatsApp installed, which is why this next bit is so important.

WhatsApp has announced that following new updates to its privacy policy, businesses will be able to send private messages to users for the first time.

The messaging service, which now has over a billion users worldwide, was bought by Facebook in 2014. There have always been questions however, over how the service could generate revenue, and whether it would stay independent.

Now, two years later, it seems that the company is ready to shake things up. The app is to allow businesses to send some users messages, and it will also start to share more data with Facebook, which will then be used to provide more relevant adverts and friend suggestions.

The good news for users however is that there still won’t be any banner ads. The company only wants to offer tailored messages and content, rather than interrupting the service with spam or irrelevant material. Users will also be able to opt out of any messages.

It won’t mean that someone will be able to read your messages either as that’s all kept private under WhatsApp’s encryption service. So all of your ramblings, misplaced emojis and pictures of other people’s dogs are completely safe, don’t panic.

For businesses though, it’s a great opportunity, as it opens up new avenues for communication with consumers that are genuinely interested in your brand. Much in the way that Twitter and Facebook have become key customer service channels for many businesses, WhatsApp is also likely to be a key part of any social media strategy as users come to expect it.

For some companies the service is already an important tool. At Battenhall for example, we have our own WhatsApp channel, and we’re seeing more and more big businesses doing the same. So whether you’re a big brand or just an avid messager, it’s definitely one to watch.