Facebook plans to introduce paid advertisements in Messenger within the next few months, according to a new report. TechCrunch writes that Facebook has distributed a document to businesses indicating they will be able to message customers directly beginning in the second quarter of the year. Businesses will only be able to send messages to customers that have already initiated a conversation, according to the report. The move is consistent with Facebook's move to make Messenger the primary way that customers interact with businesses for everything from shopping to customer support.
Facebook declined to comment. The company told TechCrunch that "our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type." But it's also moving to increase the number of businesses that use Messenger as a customer service platform. The company is also rolling out a new short URL for businesses to use that, when clicked by a customer, opens up a new message to the business.
It's unclear what form Messenger ads will take. TechCrunch speculates that businesses could use them to promote sales, introduce new products, and follow up with customers who considered buying something but didn't follow through. It seems likely that Facebook will have more to say about Messenger ads at its F8 developer conference in April.