Facebook Announces New WhatsApp Ads for 2019

In February 2014, messaging platform WhatsApp joined the Facebook family with their adless reputation still intact. Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has drawn in users with its “no-ads” mantra and its end-to-end encryption, but those days seem to be numbered with the announcement of ads which will appear on the Status page coming to the service in 2019.

What Do We Know?

The WhatsApp Status feature was introduced in early 2017 and works much in the same way as many other Story platforms like Facebook and Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. Users can upload photos to show their contacts what they’re up to, with the promise that these videos will be gone in 24 hours. However, uptake has been weak with less than 50% of account holders making use of the feature.

Despite this, and against the platform’s long-standing commitment to providing an ad-free service, Facebook has confirmed that ads will be rolled out into the Status feature at some point in 2019 to the dismay of users and stakeholders alike. WhatsApp’s co-founders didn’t originally know that Facebook wanted to start sharing data across platforms to help target ads at users, which in part led to Brian Acton leaving the company last September.

Users are also unhappy about the news, as it appears many of the platform’s main selling points have now gone to the wayside. WhatsApp’s founders never wanted to know more than your phone number and promised end-to-end message encryption, but many are worried about how much information will be scraped from their private conversations.

What Don’t We Know?

A big question that many advertisers will have is how linked it will be to Facebook, as this will have an impact on the level of targeting available, how much information about a user is made available, and how tied to the Facebook Ads Manager it will be.

For instance, by linking a WhatsApp profile to a Facebook account, this gives an advertiser access to all of Facebook’s targeting methods, raising the question, how easy it will be to integrate WhatsApp advertising into your social advertising campaigns. Will WhatsApp be part of the Facebook Ads Manager – like Instagram is – or will it be managed independently?

WhatsApp operates on a very low barrier to entry, only requiring a phone number to sign up. As such, will the platform be able to link this mobile number to a Facebook account? This will provide more information than is currently available on WhatsApp alone. With account information, advertisers will be able to apply similar targeting strategies to those on Facebook such as interest segments and lookalikes.

It will be interesting to see what kind of creative formats are available: will there be a variety, as there is for Instagram Stories, or will it be more like Facebook Messenger where you can only use single image ads.

There will be a lot of questions about how much information will be scraped from messages and just how much personal data will be shared between Facebook’s platforms. This will be crucial to getting consumer buy-in, as many users will be frustrated if they feel like information from their private conversations is being exploited.

Furthermore, the only ad format being put forward at the moment will appear in the WhatsApp Status, similar to Facebook or Instagram Stories, which are viewed by less than 50% of users. Whether this is extended out into Chat remains to be seen, as this may result in people deserting the service and thus making it unprofitable as an advertising platform.

Currently, we have more questions than answers, but monetising WhatsApp was going to happen at some point, even if it has been soon than many would have liked or even anticipated. This is certainly a platform to keep an eye on as the potential is enormous, but testing will be necessary to assess the actual value.

Online Dating: Should Advertisers Take Notice?

Apps like Tinder have made online dating the norm for today’s young professionals. What used to be seen as awkward, and only for those who couldn’t find a date on their own, is now the accepted dating standard. It appears unusual to find a single Millennial who doesn’t have an account on at least one dating app.

But what is it about dating apps that should have advertisers paying attention?

For one, they’re slowly creeping into advertising territory that’s currently monopolised by platforms like Facebook and Google. Advertisers and dating apps are now “swiping right” together, with apps like Tinder offering programmatic advertising solutions, and partnering with social media channels to gain access to their extensive databases and seamless native ads. Soon we’ll be seeing ads akin to this: No luck today swiping for love? Perk yourself up with a new hair colour or teeth whiteners to boost your chances of a match next time around.

Tinder’s foray into programmatic is enticing to advertisers due to the brand’s recognizability, global reach, and high levels of engagement. Since many users register using their Facebook accounts, the platform is a rich data mine for advertisers looking to corner the Millennial market, as 74% of users fall into this bracket. Advertisers don’t need to chase users for information because they happily provide their personal details in order to get the most out of the app. The more data you provide, the better your chances of a match. Just think of the custom audiences that can be built with all that data, or the accuracy of look-a-likes, targeting users as they swipe with creatives for perfumes, hair dyes, toiletries, and clothing.

Porsche's Valentine's Day Tinder Ad

Porsche’s Valentine’s Day Tinder Ad

In addition to commonly used data, like age, gender, income, location, and education, dating sites also give advertisers the chance to target based on highly sought after information, such as: favourite movies, TV shows, religion, body type, political views, and something as finite as whether they’re a “drinker” or “non-drinker”. Tinder has also recently stretched its search parameters to include gender identities outside of traditional male-female selections, allowing advertisers to access and meet the demands of a new, quickly rising, advertising demographic.

These apps are no longer just on our phones – Tinder is now on Apple TV, taking the app off the phone, and turning dating selection from a private affair, into a social event. Tinder gets friends and family in on the game by allowing dating to become much like the sitcoms of old, where everyone can sit around on the couch and weigh in on your potential love life. Tinder has even rolled out several light-hearted ads showing friends, parents, and even grandparents, helping singles swipe left and right.  The sky is the limit now that Tinder has crossed the device threshold.

Though it is still in its infancy, online dating is a fantastic arena for programmatic innovation. Advertisers have seen dramatic results in CTR and engagement after showing relevant, great looking ads on Tinder that suggest their product will help the user land, or have, that first successful date. Advertisers looking to take advantage of programmatic to boost awareness, engagement, and revenues may want to partner with online dating sites, especially those struggling to connect with this generation. These apps have easy access to the data and target demographic heavily favoured by many brands.

Easy Ways to Implement Paid Search Call Tracking for B2B Businesses

Phone calls remain an important facet of B2B marketing today. Even in this digital age where many people turn to their mobile or computer for information, shoppers still like to ask detailed questions over the phone to start the purchase process, or to ascertain important facts that will assist them in making a final decision. Callers are usually further down the sales funnel versus users who have filled out a form online.

Often businesses face the problem of how to track these calls accurately and how to integrate the information into a viable paid search strategy. Not having a method for tracking calls can be detrimental to business revenue. This is because you may be disabling keywords that you believe are having little effect but ultimately lead to offline interactions.

So, in a time when advertisers should be focusing their energy on fully understanding the effect of each of their marketing channels, it is crucial to have a method of tracking not only across digital activity, but how digital activity effects offline activity.

We understand cross channel attribution and tracking can be a complicated process, but there are easy alternatives for tracking calls influenced by digital activity. Whilst there are numerous options available, this blog post will focus specifically on the paid search activity and the technology available for tracking calls online.

Call Extensions

Offered by both Google and Bing, call extensions are ad extensions that allow users to contact a business directly from the ad via a clickable “Call” button on mobile, tablet or desktop. On desktop, the full number is shown so that the user can pick up their phone and call or in some cases, click on it and be re-directed to a Skype call.


Bing offers two types of call extensions and reporting:

All Devices: Bing generates a call number for you to place in your ads (local or toll-free). Call tracking is automatically activated and the advertiser is provided with in-depth call analytics such as: call type, call duration, and area code. On desktops, and tablets, clicking on the call immediately re-routes it to Skype. Unfortunately, this granular type of call-data analysis is only available to US and UK customers at the moment.

Mobile Only: The advertiser provides their own number for the ad. This method is limited to regular click-reporting only.


Costs: Whether it’s via mobile, desktop or tablet, standard CPC charges apply. (Note: You can only add one call extension per campaign.)

Location Extensions: Bing also offers brands the option of using a location extension with their call campaigns. Your phone number, address, website link, and a clickable link of directions to your store are provided within the ad. If an advertiser happens to have multiple locations, Bing permits the use of two addresses within the location extension and intelligently selects the relevant store based on their current location. This helps potential customers find you. The cost is the same for location extensions as it is for clicking on the advertiser’s text ad.

To add a clickable number to Bing, follow these steps:

Adding Call Extensions to Bing Campaigns

  1. On the Campaigns page, click Ad Extensions.
  2. Click Call Extensions from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click Create ad extension.
  4. Select the appropriate Campaign and Country/Region.
  5. Enter your phone number.
  6. Select On all devices using a Bing Ads forwarding number or On smartphones using my own phone number. If you choose to display your call extension on all devices, select if you want to Show a toll-free number or Show a local number.
  7. Select the links you want to display: Both my website and the phone number or Just the phone number.
  8. Click Save. *courtesy of Bing Ad Extensions

Google Call Extensions 

Control Advantages: Google has some nice features that give advertisers more control over the call extension process. Advertisers can set “call-only” campaigns where ads aren’t wasted by being shown to people without a mobile device. Advertisers using Google Call Extensions can also control when ads appear to keep wasted spend minimal. Ads can be set to only appear when your business is open, and advertisers can also share phone numbers across campaigns and ad groups.

Calls as Conversions: Google offers call forwarding where the advertiser can see where the call is coming from, their area code, and the call duration, all via an assigned, unique Google phone number. Even with a Google number, calls get re-routed to the business’ local phone number and caller ID still works normally.


Costs: The same cost as a standard Google headline click (standard CPC rates apply).

To add a clickable number to Google, follow these steps:

Find the call extensions window

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Select the campaign or ad group for which you’d like to add call extensions.
  3. Go to the Ad extensions. If you can’t see this tab, find out how to enable the tab.
  4. In the top corner, choose Call extensions from the View
  5. Enter your phone number
    1. Click on + Extension.
    2. You’ll see a list of phone numbers that you’ve already set up. You can choose one of these or create a new one by clicking on the grey + New phone number The following steps take you through how to add this new number.
    3. Choose the country where your business phone number is based and enter your number in the box next to the country menu.
    4. If you’re in an eligible country, you can choose to display your ad with a Google forwarding phone number in order to access advanced call reporting. If you don’t want to use a Google forwarding phone number, choose “My own phone number”.
  6. Choose optional settings and save
    1. If you’re using a Google forwarding phone number and want to track your mobile phone calls as conversions, tick the box next to “Report phone call conversions”. Specify how long a call should last for it to be reported as a conversion.
    2. You can choose to have this call extension preferred over other call extensions when people see your ad on mobile devices. To do this, select the box for “Mobile” next to “Device preference”.
  7. If you’d like to limit when the phone number will be eligible to appear in your ad (such as during your opening hours), click on Start/end dates, scheduling and choose your hours.
  8. Click on Save.

You can repeat the steps above to add up to 20 call extensions to each campaign or ad group.

Want to learn more about B2B Marketing? Download our white paper: Your Guide to Successful Digital B2B Marketing 

The Benefits and Challenges of In-App Advertising

In-app advertising is a medium that has grown since marketers have taken advantage of the upswing in mobile usage over the past few years. Optimizing for mobile web use is a great start, but it’s only one part of the mobile advertising equation. With 2.7 billion smartphone users, nearly 90% of the total mobile time is spent on apps. (BuildFire) and with 1.96 million apps on Apple’s App Store and 2.87 million on the Google Play Store, there is plenty of inventory. . It’s hard to ignore the strong engagement and app installs brands can earn going through the in-app advertising route if done properly. Here are a few things to know before you dive into in-app advertising.

In-app advertising provides a better consumer experience than display advertising within the mobile web. Ads on the mobile web are often compressed and unappealing to smartphone users. In-app ads are scaled to fit the screen and look better, thereby improving over all engagement.

Location is a big factor in being able to deliver relevant ads in-app to users. Certain technology providers, such as specialist DSPs, have the capability to determine where the user is at that exact moment and offer real time services or products that take into account location. For example, if you’re male, 18-25, and near a JD Sports store, you can be served a relevant ad based on this information.

Accessibility is another beneficial factor to consider when creating in-app ads. Since most users have their phones with them around the clock, wherever they go, it’s easy to reach them with in-app mobile advertising. You have access to a captive audience, i.e., users who are already using the app and interested in you. Since they’re already engaged, it makes the conversion process an easier win. 59% of US smartphone shoppers used their device in-store to compare costs or search for deals and coupons.

Many mobile users are unwilling to pay for an app so developers have had to come up with creative ways to monetise. One of the ways to do this is through subscriptions on app purchases. Gated levels are another means to monetize and move users from a “freemium” app version to a paid one by allowing them to use the app, but barring some functions such as ads.

Tracking is another area where advertisers are facing challenges. Advertisers may find it difficult to track post-view conversions and tie it in with in-app conversion. Many advertisers have been falling back on using CTR as a form of measurement but this model is inaccurate as it doesn’t account for accidental clicks, which are common with smartphone use. The iOS14 update has provided another barrier to accurate user tracking, with advertisers potentially losing post-click action data.

This blog was updated: 11.05.2021 13.50GMT

Automatic Ad Captioning Given the Green Light By Facebook this Month

Facebook announced that it will be automatically captioning video ads so that brands can still get their message across, but without being intrusive to the user experience. Later this month, Facebook will launch automatic captioning in the US and Canada. Brands can currently add captioning to their videos manually but this will put the bulk of the work in Facebook’s hands, with advertisers being able to edit before posting. In addition to doing the captioning for advertisers, Facebook will also provide brands with the number of viewers watching their silent ads.


The Issues
Facebook conducted testing that showed 80% of people reacted negatively to ads that automatically played with sound in their newsfeed. The reaction wasn’t just negative towards the sponsoring brand, but also towards Facebook.

Another issue plaguing advertisers is that most people leave their phones on silent or vibrate when they are in public spaces, such as on a bus, or in a restaurant, rendering videos reliant on sound useless. Catchy music and sound effects are wasted ad spend when the mobile user just scrolls past and there is no context for what they are watching. The problem is that 40% of video advertising is geared towards working with sound, so when a user bypasses an ad because it’s not interesting enough to capture their attention without blaring in their feed, the advertiser fails to hit the mark, and the ad loses its impact. Graham Mudd, Facebook’s Director of Ads Product Marketing, told Business Insider that 55% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch the next ten seconds; that means advertisers have mere seconds to capture a user’s attention.

The Solution
Facebook is pushing brands to be mobile friendly and that means changing the way video ads are presented on smaller screens. TV ads are not constrained by size and mobility because they have a captive audience that must sit through a commercial to get back to their programming. While it’s true that viewers can skip ads or change the channel, they are still a stationary audience and more likely to watch the advertisement since they are already committed to viewing.

On mobile and tablet, where the user is often on the go, advertisers must earn their attention, as echoed in the sentiments of Mark D’Arcy, Chief Creative Officer of Creative shop, “Great mobile video is not about demanding people’s attention, it’s about deserving it.” This prompted the social platform to come up with a way where video advertising can still occur, but in a more native, and non-grating manner.

A few brands have been quick to jump onboard. Absolut Vodka created an ad that catered to captioning and ran it in a Friday night time slot on Facebook’s news feed. The result was a success; Absolut saw a four-point lift in brand favourability at the conclusion of their campaign.

Although it’s still the “early days,” silent ads with captioning have shown an increase in viewing time by 12%. Facebook is encouraging brands to tell their stories in visually appealing and versatile ways, by making the most of typography, images, and great graphic design that can be as captivating without sound.



Life Style Sports Increases Revenue by Improving Customer Mobile Experience

Life Style Sports Responsive Mobile Site


It cannot be denied that for many of us mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives. They allow us to go shopping without leaving the house, pay bills without going to the bank, and it can even be an office on the go. In fact, according to Mobify, mobile traffic accounts for 37% of all internet traffic, globally.


With so many consumers searching the internet from their mobile phones it is imperative for retailers to have a fully optimised mobile website or application. Those who don’t are missing out on potential revenue, and more than they think. Mobify’s research shows that “30% of mobile shoppers will abandon a transaction if the experience is not optimised for mobile.”


Take Net Media Planet client Life Style Sports for example. Niamh McGarry, Ecommerce Performance Marketing Manager at Life Style Sports talks about their new responsive website. “Our new website, www.LifeStyleSports.com, went live at the beginning of October, giving users a completely responsive design across desktop, tablets and mobile devices.”


“Our new responsive design allows us more flexibility in terms of showcasing our brand, and generally makes it as easy as possible for our customers to find what they’re looking for so that they can easily shop online on any device.”


In just two weeks with the new site we saw exceptional results, with no change to the current Paid Search Strategy. The results below show the difference between October, pre-site change, and January MTD after moving to the responsive mobile site. We would expect an increase in conversion rate, however; the increase in mobile performance is massive!


• Throughout the UK and IE, the percentage of overall website revenue attributed to mobile has increased by 23% since October 2014.
• Mobile traffic conversion rate has increased by 91%.
• Tablet device’s conversion rate has also increased by 85%.


Niamh McGarry, Ecommerce Performance Marketing Manager at Life Style Sports, said, “Initial results are extremely positive with conversion on mobile increasing by 109% since launch and mobile now accounts for 26% of revenue to the site.”


This is just one example of how responsive websites can be beneficial to ROI. There is so much opportunity in mobile retail. In most situations it is worth your time and resources to have a mobile optimised site.

Net Media Planet at SES London 2013



I have just returned from SES London 2013, where I gave a presentation on how the rise of Mobile is shifting user behaviour.


Thanks to my fellow panellists Cindy Krum of MobileMoxie LLC and Mark Brill of Brand Emotivity. It was really interesting to hear further insights on how Mobile is changing consumer behaviours, and how brands can take that knowledge to improve online performance.


I thought I would share the deck I presented, which gives examples of our work with brands such as Papa John’s and Sk:n Clinics, and will hopefully offer some thought provoking ideas. Please feel free to have a look through and let me know if you have any questions.