Facebook today announced that it has begun testing ads in the Messenger app. The test will be limited to users in Australia and Thailand and will allow businesses to place ads on the Messenger home screen below favorite users and most recent conversations.
The company says that "no one will see an ad in a conversation without clicking on an ad experience on the Messenger home screen or starting a conversation with a brand." Facebook assures that ads will not "originate" in conversations.
Facebook says businesses have told the company that they're excited to use the Messenger platform to connect to its billion users, driving sales and building brand awareness. Currently, Facebook runs ads on its News Feed that, when clicked, take users into Messenger conversations with brands. This has helped person-to-business messaging grow popular, with Facebook saying over a billion messages are sent a month between people and businesses.
Messenger users will have "complete control" over their experience, and will be able to either hide or report specific ads using a dropdown menu, similar to how users can report ads on their News Feed. Additionally, advertisers are not allowed to directly message users unless the user initiates the conversation.
The test will only work for a "very small group" of people in Australia and Thailand, and Facebook says the company will take its time before it considers further expansion.