If you are a WhatsApp user for last four years , you would have noticed its Welcome screen explaining ‘Why we don’t sell ads’. When clicked, the link will take you a page that begins with a quote by Fight Club’s famous character Tyler Durden.
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
The above quote is by Tyler Durden, the fictional character in the Chuck Palahniuk’s famous novel Fight Club, suffered from a dissociative identity disorder – a psychological disease where the victim forgets who he is, and manifests dual character. He does exactly the same what he preaches others not to do. He has a split personality, and while trying to commit suicide, argues with God over human behaviour.
Apparently, WhatsApp thought ‘selling ads’ is a sort of shit that the company would never dive into, promising its users not to sell ads on their platform in their lifetime. But $19 billion cash is too much a value to look at shit as business.
Only on yesterday, it appeared, WhatsApp tried to live by the quote and the character, a character with dissociative identity disorder.
The messaging app last week announced it will integrate with other ‘businesses’ to offer customised solutions to its billion plus users. What it means is the world’s largest messaging app will now run ‘ads’ on its platform.
“We want to explore ways for you to communicate with *businesses* that matter to you too,” WhatsApp wrote in its official blog.
Interestingly, like Tyler Durden, WhatsApp argued with the ‘God’ – for it, consumers – about their nature, and tried to tell them why they need ads.
“For example, you may receive flight status information for upcoming travel, a receipt for something you purchased, or a notification when a delivery will be made. Messages you may receive containing marketing could include an offer for something that might interest you,” said the app that got acquired by Facebook 2 years back.
Though the company claimed it will not sell any ‘third party banner’ ads on its platform, for consumers it will be like once bitten twice shy. They had hoped they can do their messaging in an ad-free serene environment, which is gone now.
However, from a business perspective, when you are bought over for as hefty as $19 billion, you tend to loose your character. You dismiss your original traits and shit appears pure gold. But WhatsApp needs to tread cautiously, else, like Tyler Durden, it stands the chance to be lost in its own ‘Project Mayhem’.