Facebook brings even more mess to Messenger
Until last year, Facebook Messenger was one of the best messaging experiences around. It was clean, fast, and simple to use -- but over the last 18 months, the company has been hell-bent on "improving" it by lathering on features... and now, ads.
If you're a fairly regular Facebook user, you might have noticed the company's 'growth hacking' techniques have become out of control. It started with bots, and trying to get you to try them, but then it was more subtle: if you connect with someone new, you get a push notification in Messenger that you have a new contact, and a giant, pulsing button inviting you to send a waving emoji to them.
Other growth hacks have been less subtle; if you visit a brand page on Facebook it pops up a Messenger window in your face automatically, Messenger now features the (empty) Snapchat Stories rip-off at the top of your feed, and worst of all, if you didn't initiate a chat lately, a giant carousel inviting you to engage with those that are 'active now.'
Look, I know how companies work: they need metrics to prove they're "killing it" and the easiest way to juice those is run a series of tests that throw different elements around at random to get your attention. Facebook Messenger has impressive active user growth, but at some point, these things have to repel existing users away. Growth hacking is bullshit, and I fully believe true value comes from something deeper: building experiences your users want to use, long term.
Display ads, which are coming to Messenger, are the latest example of something that seems lazily implemented in an attempt to juice another metric: soon, you'll see giant half-screen ads, right next to your friends..
There's not much to say about this other than that it's perhaps a lazy way to monetize Messenger, rather than finding something truly different. It's a desperate grab to find the "next newsfeed" as Recode rightfully points out... because the core Facebook product has become completely saturated.
I'm sure advertisers will love it but what remains to be seen is if Messenger's users will stick around. Luckily for Facebook, it happens to own the world's other most popular messaging app, WhatsApp, if it screws this up.
– Read more about Facebook's new display ads