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Every tech and media publisher has written about a reported leaked document showing Facebook's plans to introduce ads to Messenger.

'Advert' seems a strong word, given they will be more like email; messages sent to customers who have opted in.

Whatever we call them, what might Facebook Messenger ads mean for marketers?

Brands may have a new channel for CRM

Social CRM is a reality with WeChat (enabled by third-party software), and Facebook Messenger could perhaps unlock the same potential if regular contact is allowed.

Though email is seen as the universal identifier in ecommerce, it could be set for competition as users forgo the tiresome (in comparison) UI of email apps and communicate in Messenger.

WeChat CRM systems, as listed by WalkTheChat.com.

wechat crm

Facebook may impose a WeChat style message limit

WeChat famously limits the number of messages brands can send their fans in a single day. One would imagine that Facebook will be introducing similarly limited trials of Messenger ads.

The uptake and utility of social messaging apps are explained by the fact that they are free of charges but also of noise.

Facebook won't want to compromise app usage for an ad trial, so brand communication will have to be done sensitively.

Users will have to be clear about what they might receive from a brand and they should be able to unsubscribe quickly.

Receiving order updates and receipts makes perfect sense in Messenger, offers and product info less so, as brands may find it hard to know where to draw the line.

Notifying users when items come back in stock or when big sales like Black Friday start would be obvious use cases.

However the ads are used, a message limit seems a sensible option.

Facebook Messenger ads are a natural extension of Facebook Messenger for Businesses, announced in 2015.

facebook messenger for businesses

Brands will have to exercise restraint

How will Facebook monitor spam? To prevent brand messages from becoming as irrelevant (sometimes) as email marketing, Facebook will have to keep tabs.

Could it be that this channel is so valuable to users that brands will actually have to take great care not to p*ss off their customers?

Message limit aside, utility is the key. Facebook will likely be careful to select only those partners that it trusts in this regard.

Will the Facebook Messenger UI need to be updated?

As Facebook Messenger becomes a bona fide platform it will be interesting to see how the UI evolves.

Can it continue to be a single stream messaging app, or is there an incentive to add more tools and features, enabling something similar to WeChat service accounts.

For example, could you see yourself one day using Messenger to pay in-store, simply to take advantage of the convenience the channel offers post purchase?

Honestly, as someone who doesn't have email notifications turned on, then misses delivery updates, the answer would be yes.

Of course, the challenge is in not disrupting the current experience of the app. Interesting times ahead.

Ben Davis

Published 22 February, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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