Friday, June 17, 2016

Thoughts around Monetization strategy for $19 billion whatsapp

It’s been more than two years since Facebook bought whatsapp. As per this blog(, they don’t intend to sell ads

Biggest question is how do they make money? I hope they succeed in whatever they do. Here are few thoughts to the problem.

First let me introduce few new features which will enable them to monetize.

Integration of businesses
Distinct feature of whatsapp is, a user should own a phone number. Every business has phone numbers. Whatsapp can make every business as a central cloud contact and can provide an ability search by name & location to get their services.

As a service in the app, frequently used business contacts can be added by default. This might help for the businesses.
I would also suggest to make interface zero typing. Let’s say, user is interested in Best Buy. By providing few more additional buttons in the chat(or cmds) ‘Map to a nearest location’, ‘Open hours’, ‘discounts’, makes the interface more friendly. It is also drive friendly interface.

Games are next best way for money flow
Games are another best way of engaging with a friend. I don’t think this is different from having a conversation with a friend. If you mix ‘word’ and ‘game’, you can get lot of existing ideas. This can be more creative given the touch interface.

Chat interface may NOT be good to use as game display interface between two people. Therefore, I suggest ‘message overlay’ feature. Message stays over there even though user types commands/makes their turns. There may be better ways to solve. This is one approach and it has other advantages too.

There is no need to highlight that having games is another best way to make the money.

Innovative approaches to display Ads
As said in above blog, Whatsapp has a resolution NOT to display ads. I kind of liked the idea but sometimes we needs to do needful to sustain.

I am NOT suggesting to mine the user information and display relevant ads. It can be arbitrary and at least can be displayed on publicly available information & location.

I came across a situation where I thought of having this kind of ‘message overlay’ feature is useful. We were chatting in a group and one of my friend sent us a puzzle, which has around 25 questions to answer. We started answering the questions and lot of discussion was going on but the puzzle message keeps going up in the window. It was bit difficult to scroll up and see the message and then answer. Couple of times, we needed to paste the puzzle message. This may be rare but it nice to have this ‘message overlay’, which is hover all the other messages and can be kept anywhere on the chat window. This can be transparent too.

Maybe ‘message overlay’ feature can be used to display ads at the top of the chat window. Generally, the user doesn’t bother about what is on the top. (s)he looks up at the last two messages at the most. This is one way of displaying without obstructing the conversation. Ads can be slowly fade away.

Other way to display ads is, show in the chat window and let it fade away after some time.

Other suggestions:
Facebook or google suggests us wish a Happy birthday to a friend. Well, whatsapp or hangout has a nice advantage to find out the closest friends and suggest them to buy a gift in advance rather than on the birthday. This may apply not just to birthday but to any life event.

Surprise users by displaying best economic method to meet in person who are in different places.

I call these ways(recurring events/suggesting ideas) are proactive ad-display methods. Currently, almost all organizations who display ads, uses reactive-ad display approach. In other words, the Organizations mine through the users’ data, find out the relevant ads and display to them. This is reactive approach because, the organizations are reacting on the data they have.

I haven’t used other message applications such as viber, Allo and others. But I think these thoughts can be applied to them too.

Disclaimer: I am purely an user of whatsapp and no way in related to facebook or whatsapp

1 comment:

Satish Kambala said...

"Integration of businesses" section is a powerful features and this is what FB tried to do with chat bots although I heard that hasn't been received very well.