Facebook first revealed the broad strokes of its master-plan to make money from its chat product, Messenger, during its last earnings call.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company planned to let people and businesses start messaging each other ad-free. Then, once it became natural for both people and businesses to communicate that way, Facebook would start finding ways to squeeze money from the businesses.
Today, on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, ad exec Andrew Bosworth pulled back the curtain a bit further, revealing that Facebook is working on a new ad-type called "Click to message" ads.
The idea is that businesses would design ads about their company or product, and then Facebook would place a little "Message" button at the bottom. If a person saw the ad and then felt compelled to click the message button and send the business a question or comment, then the business would pay for that ad click.
Voilà! Facebook would be using these ads to make money from the usage of Messenger.
"It's a huge part of our larger strategy around Pages and 'call to actions,'" Bosworth said.
No more websites (or phone calls)
Earlier this month Facebook completely overhauled its Pages product for small businesses, adding new call-to-action buttons that will let businesses encourage potential customers to book appointments or browse products. It also made it possible for all businesses to use the Messaging tools.
Facebook says it wants businesses to start thinking of their Pages as an alternative to creating designated websites.
"We want Pages to be the most viable online presence for businesses," Bosworth said, noting that unique visits to Pages are up 40% year-over-year, and that in the last month alone Pages have seen one billion monthly active unique visits.
Similarly, he noted that Facebook has noticed more phone-call fatigue than ever: People would rather get their questions answered via a quick text exchange than by picking up the phone.
"If Pages can trigger real business outcomes for people, that’s a huge opportunity," he says. "Click to message" ads might be a big way to make that happen. Bosworth says that people use messaging with businesses to ask questions about products or look into reservations.
Although Facebook hasn't rolled out this new "click to message" ad format yet (it's in the testing phase), Bosworth remains optimistic:
"We think they could be really popular."